DRACO, Oversight, Police Brutality, Police Commission

Statement from D.R.A.C.O. After the Trial of Dewayne B. Jones

On the afternoon of September 13th Defense Council Margaret S. Raben and Prosecuting attorney Joshua C. Holman delivered closing arguments, and the fate Sargent Dewayne Jones was placed in the hands of the Jury.

Jones is charged with the misdemeanor assault of patient and mother Sheldy R. Smith on August 1st 2022 at Detroit Receiving Hospital. Scotty Boman is the founder of Detroit Residents Advancing Civilian Oversight (DRACO). This is his statement on behalf of that group:

In the first days of the trial the court performed its due diligence in impaneling an impartial jury. The court limited arguments to avoid the introduction of opinions from civilians as to whether Jones’s use of force was reasonable. The defense made compelling arguments that Jones may have needed to use force during the encounter, however she failed to show that it was necessary, or legally reasonable, for Jones to punch Smith during critical moments. On Monday she even asked for a directed verdict.

The prosecuting attorney emphasized that, under law, force must be permissible at the time that the action occurred or the defendant’s behavior would be a battery. So the moments that mattered were the same moments captured by cell-phone videographer Ciara Morgen, who was in the waiting room when the beating started. Under law the force must be necessary for defensive purposes or for an officer to carry out his lawful duty.

At the time the Jones began punching Smith, she was being lifted up by another officer, the other officer had her restrained while Jones delivered a dozen punches. He continued punching her after hospital staff indicated they had her, including blows to the back of her head and back while she was turned away from him. While her words were offensive and disturbing, Ms. Smith never hit any of the people involved. She struggled to break free, but not to attack. Clearly, as the defense indicated, there was no credible claim to self-defense. During those moments, it was not necessary to strike her as she was being restrained. One officer even tried to pull Jones back from Sheldy.

Clearly, the people proved their case. Jones is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Felony misconduct charges should also be reinstated. But this case is bigger than one man or one woman. There is clearly a need for systemic change. The Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC), in consultation with the Detroit Police Department (DPD), needs to revise use of force policies to unambiguously limit “hard hand” or “closed hand” (BKA Punching) to circumstances where it is the most effective method and is necessary. The new contract between the DPD and the Detroit Police Officers Association must include language that recognizes the authority of the BOPC as described in the Detroit City Charter.”

Permission granted to reproduce, in whole or part, with attribution. Redaction of names (while retaining title) is recognized as reasonable editorial license and the statement may still be quoted.

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