Black Teen Beaten Unconscious By Racist Police Officer During Arrest Wins In Court
Justice has finally been served in the case of an Illinois teen who had her teeth knocked out and was beaten unconscious by a police officer during a 2013 arrest. She went to court on charges of resisting arrest and assaulting an officer but was cleared of both charges this past Friday.
A jury took about three hours Friday to acquit a 19-year-old Bloomington woman of assaulting and resisting a police officer in a June 2013 incident where racism was later alleged.
Gabriella Calhoun was hugged by her mother and other supporters after the verdicts Friday night. She was acquitted of felony aggravated battery and resisting arrest.
“I am just happy it’s over because it has been a long time coming. It’s been very stressful,” said Calhoun, now a junior at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.
Defense lawyer Steve Skelton said, “It was a hard fought case. Going into it we had an uphill battle because with cops as witnesses it’s a tough hurdle to overcome.” State’s Attorney Jason Chambers said prosecutor Samantha Walley “did a good job trying to keep things focused on the facts.”
Judge Casey Costigan denied Walley’s motion to ban Skelton from proposing in closing argument that racism played a role in the incident. The judge also let Skelton make the claim in his opening statement Tuesday.
Skelton said that the “common thread was the vast majority of those people (present) were African-Americans.” The officers’ actions “speak volumes about the bias that the team in blue brought with them that night.”
In her testimony on Friday, Calhoun described a chaotic scene at Denny’s restaurant, 701 S. Eldorado Road, where Bloomington police ordered everyone to leave after responding to reports of a fight that did not involve Calhoun or her friends.
Calhoun denied she intentionally shoved, struck or resisted an officer.
She said she was following her boyfriend, Braxton Fuller, as he was being led out by Officer Justin Gale, who was holding Fuller’s arm behind his back.
As the officer pushed Fuller out the door, Calhoun said she saw a gap in the crowd and tried to go around the officer.
“Everybody was being pushed that whole time,” she said.
When she felt someone grab her shoulder “my instinct was to get that arm off of me,” she said. Then she noticed it was a police officer, she said. After that “all I can remember is waking up on the ground face first … spitting out chips in my teeth and blood,” Calhoun testified.
Her friends and Braxton testified they did not see Calhoun push or swing at Gale, or anyone else.
We’re just glad to see that justice can still prevail in some cases and thankful that this young woman was vindiciated.