Above: Cecily McMillan from In Our Hearts NYC.
Judge will hear arguments on defense motion for officer’s personnel file on March 19
In a major development in the Cecily McMillan prosecution, the trial scheduled to begin on March 3rd has been delayed again. The Justice for Cecily campaign has announced the new schedule this morning. On March 19th there will be a motions hearing on the motion submitted by Cecily’s attorney, Martin Stolar to unseal the personnel record of the sole eye witness in the case, Officer Bovell.
This is a major development as such motions are rarely even taken seriously. In this case we already know that Officer Bovell has been reprimanded for his involvement in the Bronx ticket fixing scandal and is being sued for alleged assault on a young African American. Among the police misconduct in the ticket fixing was officers not showing up in court or testifying falsely by claiming not to remember the incident when the ticket was given. The personnel file of Officer Bovell should provide details of his wrong doing. In other trials jurors have rejected the testimony of officers involved in the ticket fixing scandal.
In the motion for disclosure of Office Bovell’s personnel records, attorney Martin Skolar made the following allegations of past violence and misbehavior:
a. In 2010 Officer Bovell was alleged to be part of a police action in which a young man on a “dirt bike” was run down and seriously injured by an unmarked police vehicle in which the Officer was riding as a passenger, all leading to the arrest of the bike rider, one Reginald Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield sued Officer Bovell, among others. It is believed that the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau investigated this incident.
b. In 2009 Officer Bovell arrested a gentleman in the Bronx after he had followed the man into a bodega. A physical interaction between Officer Bovell and the defendant ensued, with Officer Bovell being seen on video surveillance apparently kicking that defendant while he was down on the floor. The Officer claimed to have broken his ankle as a result of this interaction, although he denied kicking the defendant while down. It is believed that the Internal Affairs Bureau investigated this incident.
c. On March 18, 2012, the date of the incident with Ms. McMillan, approximately 70 other people were arrested at Zucotti Park and loaded onto a MTA bus for transport while in handcuffs. Officer Bovell was observed brutally treating an arrestee by bouncing his head on the bus’s internal stairs. The observed conduct was corroborated by the victim of Officer Bovell’s assault. It is not known whether the IAB investigated this incident.
d. After Ms. McMillan’s elbow struck Officer Bovell in the face, she was thrown to the ground and assaulted by several police officers, including Officer Bovell. This assault is captured on video. Subsequent to her arrest, Ms. McMillan suffered an apparent seizure while being placed on the MTA bus in handcuffs. She was then removed from the bus by Officer Bovell and left on the ground suffering the apparent seizure while medical help was delayed for a substantial period of time. This incident, and Officer Bovell’s participation in it, may have been the subject of an IAB investigation.
e. Officer Bovell was involved in the Bronx ticket-fixing scandal. A large amount of information concerning this scandal has been provided to the defense but notations concerning discipline or other matters is likely to appear in the personnel records. IAB investigated this matter and certain of their documents have already been provided to defense counsel.
On February 24th Popular Resistance issued a call to action urging people to tell New York City District Attorney Cy Vance to drop the charges against Cecily. The response to our call to action has been fantastic. Thank you if you were one of the more than 1,300 people who have sent an email and tweet to the New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance. If you have not taken action you can call on the DA to drop the charges here. If you have taken action please share this with people in your community and encourage them to join you in calling for dismissal of charges against Cecily.
Our sincere hope is that the District Attorney recognizes that the credibility of the sole prosecution witness to the event has been undermined by his past behavior. As the District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, represents everyone in New York City, including Cecily McMillan, and is not the lawyer for the New York Police Department. As District Attorney Vance has said it is not his job to seek convictions, but “that justice shall be done.” He has also recognized “the challenge of prosecuting a case where a witness’s testimony is compromised.” By dismissing the charges against Cecily McMillian the district attorney can demonstrate that he meant what he said.
In addition to calling on the District Attorney to drop the charges, please visit the Justice for Cecily campaign website to see what else you can do to help.
And, there is also an Avaaz Petition to the District Attorney that you can sign.