A Manhattan jury has convicted Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan of a felony for assaulting a police officer during a protest in Zuccotti Park in March of 2012. According to witnesses in the courtroom, Judge Ronald Zweibel denied bail and remanded her into custody until her sentencing date on May 19th. McMillan is facing up to seven years in prison.
— Joey Boots (@JoeyBoots) May 5, 2014
Upon remand, McMillan supporters stood in court, shouting "Shame! Shame!" ~40 officers promptly cleared the courtroom.
— Nick Pinto (@macfathom) May 5, 2014
The trial, which lasted nearly four weeks, essentially pitted the credibility of McMillan, a 25-year-old graduate student, against that of Officer Grantley Bovell. McMillian alleged that during a chaotic altercation with police during a protest, Bovell violently grabbed her breast, causing her to rear back and elbow him in the eye. Bovell testified that it was intentional. The video evidence is murky.
McMillan's attorney, Martin Stolar, presented the jury with photographs of his client's injuries, including a photo of a large bruise on her right breast, and pointed to Officer Bovell's past that involved ticket-fixing in the Bronx and his history of alleged violence against suspects in his custody. Bovell also repeatedly referred to the wrong eye when testifying about his injuries.
Prosecutor Erin Choi told the jury that medical records did not support McMillan's claim, and according to the Guardian, called McMillan's testimony "so utterly ridiculous and unbelievable that she might as well have said that aliens came down that night and assaulted her."
The Manhattan DA's office declined to comment on the verdict. Stolar did not immediately answer requests for comment.
In a statement, the group Justice For Cecily writes, "We are devastated by the Jury’s verdict today. It has been clear from day one that Cecily has not received a fair and open trial." The group also vows to appeal: "Cecily’s lawyers are optimistic, given the circumstances of the case and the gross bias demonstrated throughout, that we can win on appeal."
Of the 2,644 Occupy cases handled by the Manhattan DA, 489 were dismissed outright, 354 pled guilty, 202 were dropped before the defendant was arraigned, 1382 were given ACDs, 56 people were convicted, and 11 were acquitted.