It was a chilly October night when my client was patrolling the City of Petersburg. It started as a routine traffic stop that quickly became anything but routine. As my client approached the car, the driver bolted, leaving his car parked. A foot chase ensued. My client radioed for backup, as he tried to maintain contact with the fleeing driver, who ducked through an apartment complex weaving in an out of clothes that had been forgotten on a clothesline. Finally, the driver stumbled just enough for my client to apprehend, pepper spray, and take the man to the ground.
Now laying on the ground face down, the driver resisted given up his hands that lay underneath his body. My client struggling with a fleeing suspect in the ambient light of a run down complex constantly ordering him to give up his hands. Then backup finally arrives. A testosterone fueled Officer came from the shadows to assist, yet his presence and “assistance” made a bad situation worse. As this new Officer yelled at the suspect, all while my client continued to struggle with driver, the new Officer began to kick and stomp the driver in the head. This whole event may have lasted a short period of time, but with every second while my client wrestled with the driver, it felt like eternity. Then out of the same shadows comes a 2nd Officer, who runs up and kicks the driver in the head.
Finally, after wrestling the driver to the ground, dealing with the effects of his own pepper spray, and fearing that the driver may be laying on a weapon, all in very little light, my client is able to get the driver’s hands out from under him and get him handcuffed. Now neutralized; my client begins to assess the situation, which quickly deteriorated upon his backups arrivals. The handcuffed suspect is now unconscious on the ground. The multiple kicks to the head causing potentially life threatening damage. The suspect eventually is taken to the hospital where he undergoes surgeries and is placed in ICU before making a recovery, but carries visible scars from that night.
The Attorney General steps in and charges the two Officers, who provided backup to my client, and the Officers are eventually found guilty and pull a decent amount of time. My client is made to resign and then is indicated by the Petersburg Circuit Court for Malicious Wounding – Principle in the 2nd Degree. This charge basically puts not only his career and livelihood in jeopardy, but also, his freedom.
For over a year, we prepare my client’s case. Speaking to not only the medical doctors that treated the driver, but we thoroughly investigated and questioned the Internal Investigation Detective, the Police Trainer that taught my client the authorized and legal techniques that he used to subdue the driver, and subpoenaed the Petersburg Police conduct policy and training manual. We left no stone unturned. We prepared and we prepared, and when we thought we couldn’t be anymore prepared, we prepared again.
The day of the trial we put forth an united front. The Courthouse was packed with my client’s family, friends, and supporters. The Commonwealth brought forth its case and evidence, and with every jab they took, we were able to counter with an equal, if not more powerful jab. Usually, a strong defense is a good offense, but today a good offense was our defense. We punched holes throughout the Commonwealth’s case, and when it was our turn to bring our case, we just continued to build upon the foundation set with the Commonwealth’s case.
After final statements, there was a recess. My client found nervous comfort upon his supporters and loved ones. As we waited in the hall, a deputy came out and said that the Judge has made a decision. A quick prayer was offered up and in we went. A stoic Judge took the bench staring out into the gallery, as though not to tip his hand. The Judge’s tone became stern, and you could feel the Courtroom begin to squirm. As the Judge began to wrap up his remarks, his tone became somber. He acknowledged the holes in the Commonwealth’s case and after all was said and done, my client walked out of that Courtroom a free man. Vindication ruled the day.
Even with his Dismissal, to this day, it still effects certain aspects of his career choice, and for some has created an unfair label that he will carry for the rest of his life.