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Function of Juries | 04 Mar 2013

-Jury Finds Occupy Wall Street Protester Innocent After Video Contradicts Police Testimony


Jury Finds Occupy Wall Street Protester Innocent After Video Contradicts Police Testimony

In the first jury trial stemming from an Occupy Wall Street protest, Michael Premo was found innocent of all charges yesterday after his lawyers presented video evidence directly contradicting the version of events offered by police and prosecutors.

In the police version of events, Premo charged the police like a linebacker, taking out a lieutenant and resisting arrest so forcefully that he fractured an officer’s bone. That’s the story prosecutors told in Premo’s trial, and it’s the general story his arresting officer testified to under oath as well.

…the video prominently shows a TARU cop named Bosco, holding up his camera, which is on, and pointing at the action around the kettle. When Premo’s lawyers subpoenaed Bosco, they were told he was on a secret mission at “an undisclosed location,” and couldn’t respond to the subpoena. Judge Robert Mandelbaum didn’t accept that, and Bosco ultimately had to testify [Correction: Bosco didn’t take the stand; he had to appear at the District Attorney’s office for a meeting with Maurus and prosecutors. Judge Mandelbaum accepted that Bosco would likely say on the stand what he said in the meeting, and didn’t require him to testify.] Bosco claimed, straining credibility, that though the camera is clearly on and he can be seen in the video pointing it as though to frame a shot, he didn’t actually shoot any video that evening.

Even more importantly, the Democracy Now video also flipped the police version of events on its head. Far from showing Premo tackling a police officer, it shows cops tackling him as he attempted to get back on his feet.

Click through for the entire article discussing the situation, which involved the defendant being down on the ground trying to crawl when police claim he charged them.

This is very similar to the case of Phil Mocek-who was acquitted by a jury without ever presenting a defense case-after it became clear that the testimony of the law enforcement officers involved did not match the evidence on video that Phil recovered after it disappeared from his camera while in the custody of police.

Jurors should keep in mind that the testimony of law enforcement officers holds no special authority simply because they have badges. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Statements made by government agents should be weighed thoughtfully, taking into consideration potential prejudice against the defendant and for the prosecution, and that as human beings, they are as able to supply inaccurate information, whether inadvertently or intentionally, as any other witness.