Two jurors were removed from a stop and frisk-related case being tried in Queens Criminal Court because they were no longer considered impartial, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
The defendants in the trial include Carl Dix, the cofounder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and several others who were arrested last November following a stop-and-frisk protest in downtown Jamaica and outside of the 103rd Precinct.
One juror was questioned after asking whether it would be OK to wear an Obama shirt to court, possibly as a sign of protest, but said she could remain impartial, according to SMIN. However, Helen Petersen, a spokeswoman for the Queens DA, said the juror admitted that she could not remain impartial.
The other juror was dismissed after getting into a scuffle at the security desk of the court house. Petersen said the argument occurred when the woman refused to sign a form to reclaim her property — a pocket knife, which she was not allowed to bring into the courtroom — resulting in a summons for disorderly conduct.
Dix along with Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt and Robert Parsons are now on trial for two counts of obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct. If convicted, the four could face two 12- month jailterms.
When the prosecution rests its case, the defense lawyers will ask that the charges be dismissed, according to Steve Yip, a spokesman for the SMIN. “They have not presented any evidence to prove their case,” he said.
“We are not going to comment on a trial that’s ongoing or discuss our strategy,” Petersen said.
The charges stem from protesters allegedly blocking the entrance to the 103rd Precinct and interfering with it being able to conduct business. But Yip said the Commander of the 103rd Precinct, Deputy Inspector Charles McEvoy, testified that the police had put up barricades around the precinct to prevent the demonstrators from getting too close. Later, McEvoy invited protesters to move past the blocked perimeter.
“It was entrapment,” Yip said.
McEvoy testified that he followed the protesters as they rallied and marched for about two hours before they arrived at the precinct, according to the group. Under cross-examination by defense attorneys, McEvoy stated that he “had no reason to expect the protest would be violent, and stated that it was nonviolent.
Neither McEvoy nor the Police Department responded to requests for comment by press time.
“He could name no members of the public who were obstructed, or even inconvenienced by the protest, nor could he testify that any activities of the 103rd Precinct were affected or curtailed during the protest,” Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait and a participant in the protest, said in a prepared statement. “He also testified that he conferred with other officers on-site, and decided to let the protesters come inside a block-long barricaded area in front of the precinct where they were arrested within minutes.”