Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jury Issues Verdict In Trial Of Black College Girl Accused Of Assaulting Cleveland Police Accused Of Beating Her And Calling Her Nigger

From the Metro Desk of the DeterminerWeekly.Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (www.determinerweekly.com and www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)

A 12-member Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas jury issued verdicts on Monday against a Black college girl on trial for a host of charges including assault on two White male Cleveland Fifth District police officers. Though charged in a 12-count indictment with robbing the police of their guns, child endangerment and numerous counts of assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest, the jury found her guilty last month of assault on a police officer, and resisting arrest. The girl's mother, also named Rebecca Whitby, was acquitted of two counts of felony assault against police but convicted of a fifth degree felony count of obstruction of justice for allegedly seeking to shield her daughter from an attack and beating by police the night the girl was arrested.

“The jury opted for a compromise on the verdicts," said Cleveland Attorney Terry Gilbert, who represented the older Whitby while Cleveland Attorney Wendell Scott Ramsey represented the younger one. Gilbert said that he would appeal and that mother Rebecca Whitby was actually charged wrongly with a felony count of obstruction of justice rather than a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of official business, though he said Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel Gaul denied his motion to dismiss the charge.

A review of the case docket in the elder Rebecca Whitby's case shows charges of assault but no charge of obstruction of justice, which some say is evidence that Gaul was allowing the woman to be prosecuted on the wrong charge. Currently on probation for judicial impropriety sanctioned by the Ohio Supreme Court, Gaul also denied Gilbert's motion for the grand jury testimony, which the state opposed.

The tortured case has been ignored by the mainstream media because the younger Rebecca was said to have been prosecuted in retaliation for an elderly White neighbor having allegedly witnessed police beat her unjustly and call her a “nigger.” That witness and two other White neighbors testified at trial to the “nigger” name calling incident and the beating. Angered by the testimony, law enforcement officers sought to jail one for an alleged warrant as they were leaving the Justice Center on Friday, but after dragging the woman back in the room they later learned that the one they grabbed had no warrant.

The trial began Jan 31 and jurors deliberated about 5 hours Monday before reaching a verdict. Activists attending the trial include Art McKoy, Don Bryant, Sharon Danann, David and Marva Patterson, Tina Bronaugh, Destini Bronaugh, Denise Taylor, Brett Jackson, Stewart Robinson, Valerie Robinson, Ada Averyhart and Bill Swain.

Gilbert and Ramsey have 14 days from Monday's guilty verdicts to seek a new trial and dismissal of the cases on behalf of their clients.

Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Stanley Miller, who led the indictment of felony charges against the younger Whitby as the appointed Cuyahoga County Grand Jury Foreman of Cuyahoga Judge Timothy McGinty, discussed the aspects of the indictment at an unofficial Cleveland NAACP meeting last Saturday in violation of a state law that precludes discussions of cases by grand jury members following an indictment. Though Gaul originally ordered Miller to testify, Gilbert and Ramsey did not call him to the stand because state law also precludes testimony by grand jury members of what happen during the indictment process other than the indictment itself. The extent to which this issue will impact any appeal of the convictions remains to be seen.

Kathy Wray Coleman, a leader of the Imperial Women, said the group supports the Whitby women and urges both Gilbert and Ramsey to file timely motions for a new trial and post verdict acquittal motions.

“The Imperial Women have a problem when neighbors testify that a young Black woman has been allegedly beaten and called nigger by police and Black leaders and the Black mayor of a predominantly Black major metropolitan city view it as business as usual,” said Coleman.

The younger Whitby was, according to an elderly White neighbor, beaten and called a “nigger” by White Fifth District police officers one dark night in 2009 in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood where the family once lived. Court documents reveal that police were called to the home by her father who said she was too intoxicated to drive, but the family says that records reveal that she was only slightly intoxicated, and that charges were filed only after an internal complaint against police was filed. Neither of the women, both of whom testified at trial, has a prior criminal record.

The case dockets relative to the prosecutions show no sentencing date.