Sanders trial continues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Young adults partying at Club Eclipse nearly six years ago testified on Wednesday that Selma Police officers, who allegedly beat and pepper sprayed them, did so without provocation.

Kindaka Sanders, John Moss Jr. and Kenyatta Gaines filed a lawsuit against the officers in Dallas County Circuit Court seeking damages after their Oct. 7, 2000, party ended in a dispute between two other men.

Email newsletter signup

Effie Major, a Selma school teacher at the time of the incident, testified that the officers had their guns drawn and told them not to move when backup arrived.

“‘Freeze’ was their instruction, and that’s just what we did,” Major said. “Mr. Sanders was in the fetal position on the cement, moving in a circular motion.”

Sanders, the son of attorney Faya Rose Toure and Sen. Hank Sanders, testified he was beaten with batons and maced. Toure asked Judge Marvin Wiggins for a moment to gain her composure after hearing the testimony.

“This is why you shouldn’t try your son’s case,” said Toure, who along with law partner J.L. Chestnut Jr. are seeking justice for the alleged overzealous activities of police officers.

Moss, 31, who met Sanders while undergraduates at Morehouse College in Atlanta, took the witness stand Wednesday testifying the purpose of their party was both a fundraiser for their new nonprofit corporation and night out for the public. Their organization, POWA (Principle Organizing of Wealth Acquisition), provided tutorial assistance and professional development.

Major testified she supported them, helping with decorations for the party and was clearing the tablecloths and candles when the altercation between two of the attendees took place. One man was hit with a glass bottle and bled from the head. He was taken outside and police were called.

The first two officers to arrive were Brian Gallion and Josh McDaniel. An off-duty employee of the SPD, Jasper Bowie, who was attending the function, testified he met the officers outside and told them what happened. Bowie was asked to go back inside and asked the man who reportedly hit the bleeding man with the bottle to come outside.

Bowie testified that Sanders, who had recently graduated from Harvard Law School, was diffusing the escalating situation.

Moss, who testified he joked with one of the attendees who lagged behind “looking for his watch,” continued to “play the dozens” with the man after the first two officers arrived. One of the officers asked Moss to return inside. When Moss didn’t follow

the order, the officer told him he was going to jail and handcuffed him. Moss said he was forced back inside the door and confusion ensued.

Bowie testified someone jumped onto one of the officers’ backs and the next thing he knew, either Gallion or McDaniel had “called in double zero, officer down, officer needs assistance.”

What happened after that resulted in the lawsuit against Gallion, McDaniel, Michael Heath, Michael Rushing, and Chuck Webber, who was the supervisor on duty. A sixth officer, Moses Suttles, the only black officer charged, was released from the lawsuit before proceedings began.

Testimony is expected to continue Thursday before Wiggins. Selma City Attorney Jimmy Nunn said he planned to call the officers to testify in their own defense, possibly early as Thursday afternoon.