A member of the jury that convicted Occupy protester Cecily McMillan of felony assault against an officer yesterday now tells the Guardian he or she regrets their verdict. “I’m very remorseful about it,” the unidentified juror said. “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”
“For most of the jury, the video said it all,” the juror told the paper, referring to this grainy footage in which you can see Cecily McMillan elbow Officer Grantley Bovell (0:20). It's impossible to see in the video whether Officer Bovell violently grabbed her breast, which is what she says caused her to rear back and strike him in the face. A photo of a large bruise on her breast was also shown to the jury. In another video, bystanders recount how McMillan suffered a seizure and was unattended by police or medical personnel for several minutes.
The juror said that an immediate vote after the 12 were sent out for deliberation found they were split 9-3 in favour of convicting. After everyone watched the clip again in the jury room, the juror said, two of the three hold-outs switched to the majority, leaving only the juror who approached the Guardian in favour of acquitting the 25-year-old. Sensing “a losing battle”, the juror agreed to join them in a unanimous verdict.
However, once the trial had concluded, the jurors were allowed to conduct their own research of the case and learn about McMillan's possible sentence of seven years in prison. Once the jury saw what they had potentially sentenced her to, “they felt bad,” the juror said.
Gawker obtained a few photos of McMillan's arrest that were used as evidence. "Cecily might have thrown her elbow back in reaction to getting grabbed from behind, but I would hardly call that assault," the photographer writes. "I would call that a natural human reaction to being attacked."
During the trial, Martin Stolar, McMillan's attorney, brought up Officer Bovell's ties to the ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx, and previous allegations that he had assaulted suspects, but Stolar says the video "is the only piece of evidence that a jury could hang its hat on.” Stolar adds, “On a quick glance without analysis, it looks like an assault. But it does not show what happened to Cecily.”
The judge denied McMillan bail until her sentencing on May 19th, and she was sent to Rikers Island until then.