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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mark Hays Case Update: Hays Found Guilty

The Stranger reports that Mark Hays was found guilty of obstruction and assaulting an officer today, after days of jury deliberation and despite reports that several independent witnesses contradicted police assertions that Hays had attempted to tackle an officer prior to the video taped vicious beating Hays received from undercover officers stemming from nothing more than a jaywalking offense.

The Stranger writer who posted this story is unaware as to whether Hays' defense was permitted to show the SPD dash-mounted video of Hays' head being repeatedly smashed into the pavement by several undercover SPD officers, whether the contradictory witness testimonies from multiple bystanders was permitted in the trial, nor whether the undercover ACT officers' history of misconduct and brutality complaints were permitted either.

There has been no word on whether Hays or Lujan are still pursuing civil cases against the city in relation to this case.

UPDATE: However, there was this reply posted in the comments:

I can tell you that the video was played for the jury multiple times. There was only (one) witness that came forward besides the suspects and added nothing to the night's events besides what was on the video already. Bottom line is: if you witness something like this and are bothered by it--COME FORWARD AND TESTIFY! The fact that there were apparent "witnesses" to the event and no one came forward with a statement ruined Hays' case.

As mentioned previously, there were numerous witnesses who told The Stranger's Jonah Spangenthal-Lee that Hays did not attempt to tackle the undercover officers, contrary to police testimony. But, if the person who posted that comment was at the trial, it appears as though these witnesses were too afraid to come forward and contradict the police at trial.

I have some empathy for those frightened witnesses, experiencing or witnessing police brutality is very traumatic and changes your life forever, it makes you question your basic assumptions about society and it forces you to fear the ease with which police can abuse citizens. But as I say repeatedly... if people don't stand up against abusive officers, they'll be free to brutalize more people. Or, as some people tell me when I waver about writing this blog, the police are more likely to abuse you again if you are a victim instead of a critic.

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