An Orange County federal jury could not reach a unanimous decision today in the civil case of a unarmed homeless man severely beaten in Santa Ana by two Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department transit deputies in November 2009.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter accepted the jury foreman's report that there was a hopeless deadlock, thanked the eight members of the citizen's panel (five women and three men) for their service and, after consulting with each side in excessive force lawsuit, dismissed the jurors late this afternoon.
The jury had favored the defense of deputies Scott C. Harper and Brian Sherred, who acknowledge that they beat the hell out of Johnnie Franklin Jones--a pleasant, hardworking fellow--on a public sidewalk but claimed their use of force was justified because the suspect didn't rapidly comply with their orders to raise his hands.
Jones' legal team of Jerry L. Steering and Alexander J. Perez had argued during a four-day trial that Harper and Sherred fabricated post-incident reports to justify the excessive use of force that put Jones in the hospital and required emergency surgeries.
On behalf of the officers, deputy Los Angeles county counsel Joseph Langston, a near perfect Rob Lowe look/sound-alike, argued that Jones caused the attack by assaulting the officers and acting mysteriously.
Immediately following Judge Carter's case-ending announcement, Jones said that he was ready for a new trial.
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In its final deliberations, the jury voted 7-1 in favor of Harper and Sherred.
Jones--who, though homeless at the time of the incident, works two jobs and hopes to get a degree from Orange Coast College--is African American; the deputies are white (terribly pale, actually); and post-55, white folks comprised most of the jury.