Mayor pleads:

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don’t resist arrest

BY Victor Inge


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Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. gave an impassioned plea during Monday’s City Council meeting for the citizenry to obey police and not to resist arrests.

Such a request would seem peculiar; however, Selma residents are operating with more knowledge and precedence set when three former police officers were found guilty several weeks ago of wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. Perkins said it has to stop &8220;before someone gets seriously injured.&8221;

A Dallas County jury awarded three men a total of $310,000 in damages after an incident six years ago outside a Selma night club, when jurors said police overreacted to a distress call sent out by two inexperienced officers. During the trial their attorney, Faya Rose Toure, brought to the attention of the court an individual’s right &8220;to use reasonable force to resist what they know to be an unlawful arrest.&8221;

Perkins said the police department has since reported an abnormally high number of charges for resisting arrest and officers have been attacked.

He urged citizens to comply with the law, and not try to determine what’s unlawful while in the streets.

Police Chief Jimmy Martin said he planned to help clarify the law with the general public, in light of an incident this week in the 1300 block of St. Phillips St., during which two police officers were allegedly attacked. While attempting to arrest

Marshawn Davis on drug charges, officers Reginald Fitts and Christopher Harris were involved in an altercation with members of Davis’ family.

Davis was taken into custody and Det. Frederick Walker is investigating the incident to see if any other family members will be charged, Martin said. Officer Harris was treated for minor injuries and released from Vaughan Regional Medical Center.

Martin said he feels the public is misinformed and he wanted to investigate the law before publicizing it. He said the problem arose from the public not understanding the verdict in the City’s recent civil trial.

Kindaka Sanders, John Moss Jr. and Kenyatta Gaines filed the civil lawsuit against the officers in Dallas County Circuit Court seeking damages after their Oct. 7, 2000, party that ended in a dispute between two other men. The lawsuit claims the officers overreacted when more than 50 police officers, state troopers and sheriff deputies arrived with guns drawn.

The plaintiffs’ contention was they were hosting the event and were serving as peacemakers until police answered a distress call and assumed Sanders, Moss and Gaines were in a confrontation with police. The City of Selma has retained two attorneys, Valerie Chittom and Rick Howard, to handle an appeal to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

Jurors interviewed after the trial said the officers gave conflicting testimony during the trial and appeared to have overreacted during the early morning hours when called to the scene.