I have never had a case where one of the arresting officers pleads the 5th and refuses to testify even after the grant of immunity.
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) November 18, 2010
Civil rights/defense attorney, Caree Harper will represent Lumard Wilson against allegations that he attempted to rundown officers after he was beaten in the face with a flashlight by Officer Daniel Floyd and shot at by former Riverside officer turned armed robber Officer David Reeves. Reeves pled the 5th and refused to testify about the shooting even after the District Attorney granted him immunity. (Case # RIF-141184). The trial is set for November 23, 2010 at 8:30 am.
Former Officer Reeves and current Officer Floyd’s actions on the January 11, 2008, were captured by the mounted cameras in the patrol car. The video depicts Officer Floyd breaking Wilson’s driver’s side window with a flashlight and hitting Wilson with it. Wilson then begins to drive the vehicle while being hit by Floyd when Reeves opened fire. Both officers appear to shoot at Mr. Wilson on the video although Floyd has denied firing his weapon, under oath, according to case filings (RIF-141184).
“Lumard Wilson was merely installing his car radio that afternoon and there was nothing illegal in the car,” said Caree Harper, attorney for the defense, adding “I have never had a case where one of the arresting officers pleads the 5th and refuses to testify even after the grant of immunity. Nor have I had a case where the officer is an incarcerated convicted felon and the client is out of custody with a clean record.”
This is the second trial in this matter after Judge Craig Riemer declared a mistrial in May, 2010 (RIF-141184). “My understanding is that the judge had a preplanned vacation and the trial was running over the estimated time…” Harper said.
As cited in the case filings (RIF-141184), the man accused of shooting Lumard Wilson is former officer David R. Reeves who was convicted of four counts of armed robbery and three counts of attempted robbery in February of this year, and is now serving a 15 year sentence in prison. (Valley News, February 24, 2010)
District Attorney's Office Public Information Officer John Hall, stated after Reeves’ conviction that "the defendant committed crimes of violence…this was someone who was supposed to protect the public. We want to make sure he serves the time he deserves for committing these crimes." (Valley News, February 24, 2010)
Reeves’ own attorney, Danuta Tuszynska, has been quoted in the media as stating that in the two years leading up to his arrest, Reeves had been in and out of drug rehabilitation centers. His addiction started shortly after he suffered a "significant" on-the-job neck injury and was prescribed Vicodin and Oxycontin for relief. (Valley News, February 24, 2010) She has also been quoted as stating, "At some point, his employer recognized the problem and took away his badge and gun and assigned him to desk work. He was no longer on the streets."
The city of Riverside Police Department has a documented history of questionable incidents that impact this case.
In February of this year, Reeves’ boss, Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach, wrecked his car after he had mixed alcohol and prescription medication about the same time Reeves was pleading guilty to multiple armed robberies. Riverside officers who responded were alleged to have covered up the incident and drove him home without arresting him that evening. (The Press-Enterprise, February 13, 2010)
Leach confirmed his resignation after crashing his city-issued car at 3 a.m. Feb. 8. The handling of that incident has led to independent criminal and internal probes. Leach has said he was disoriented on prescription drugs and doesn't remember what happened. In the single-car collision, he struck a light pole and fire hydrant, then drove more than 3 miles with a hanging fender and two blown tires. When his Chrysler 300 was spotted by officers, it was rolling on its rims and throwing off sparks. Riverside police filed a report indicating that Leach had consumed alcohol but provided no field sobriety test. Officers recommended no criminal action, prompting investigators to review whether their superiors had influenced their decision. (LA Times, April 14, 2010)
Harper, who is representing Lumard Wilson pro bono, says she has tried cases in “less hostile environments,” but believes once the citizens of Riverside hear the evidence surrounding the incident her client will be acquitted.
The state attorney general has previously said the department suffered from “systemic racism” and ordered a series of reforms including use-of-force training and purchasing less-lethal weapons, according to the 10 year anniversary article on the Tyisha Miller shooting. (New York Times, July 14, 1999)
Riverside Police Department was investigated by the California Attorney General for the shooting death of Tyisha Miller by officers. Miller, a 19 year old African American woman, was shot 12 times by Riverside police while sitting in her car at a gas station in December of 1998. This case put the city of Riverside under national scrutiny and promised changes. (People of the State of California, etc. v. City of Riverside, Riverside County Superior Court Case No. 355410)
Before the mistrial Attorney Harper successfully argued for the dismissal of many of the charges against her client in May, 2010 (Case # RIF-141184).
While zealous in her pursuit of justice for her clients, whether it be criminal defense or civil rights violations, Attorney Caree Annette Harper is quick to note that she is "not of the mindset that all or even most police officers are abusive, but the few that cross the line, overshadow the good works of the many hardworking women and men of law enforcement.” Harper herself was a decorated police officer. One of several awards she received as a police officer was for diving into a canal and saving a man's life when she pulled him out of a vehicle submerged under water. Harper performed CPR on the man until paramedics arrived and airlifted him to a hospital where he fully recovered.