Occupy Protester Trial Held to Dig for NYPD Dirt
MANHATTAN (CN) - A trial for one of New York's last criminal cases against an Occupy Wall Street activist has been postponed again amid revelations about the officer whom she allegedly assaulted.
New York City police arrested dozens during the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, which also coincided with St. Patrick's Day on March 17, 2012.
Cecily McMillan, 25, was with the arrested protesters at the movement's Zuccotti Park headquarters, but she says that she was there for holiday celebrations and not demonstrating. She also claims to have inadvertently thrown back her elbow when she felt a hand grope her breast, striking officer Grantley Bovell as he arrested her.
Although McMillan said that she suffered a seizure and has photographic evidence of bruising from her arrest, she faces up to seven years imprisonment if convicted of felony assault of a police officer.
Originally slated for Feb. 10, McMillan's trial was postponed to reassign the case to a new judge, and it encountered another delay to probe other misconduct allegations against her accuser.
Bovell, who serves the Bronx's 40th Precinct, was a defendant in a June 2011 lawsuit filed by 17-year-old Reginald Wakefield who said that police intentionally hit him with an unmarked car while he was riding his friend's dirt bike.
According to the lawsuit, Bovell was not driving the car that hit him, but he was one of the officers who failed to prevent the crash.
"When the unmarked police vehicle struck Wakefield, the force propelled him from his dirt bike and sent him airborne and head first into the metal pole of a street lamp," Wakefield's complaint states. "The dirt bike he had been operating flew under a nearby parked car."
Losing consciousness from the impact, Wakefield woke up at Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx with a broken nose, two broken teeth and lacerations to the thighs, torso, elbows and forehead, according to the complaint.
The 17-year-old said that he left the hospital a week later with stitches, scars, trouble breathing from his nose and weight loss from his reduced ability to eat.
His lawsuit was finally settled this year on undisclosed terms.
Martin Stolar, a National Lawyer's Guild attorney representing McMillan, said in a phone interview that Bovell was internally disciplined in connection with the Bronx's ticket-fixing scandal, but he was not among the officers indicted under those charges.
New York Assistant District Attorney Erin Choi requested and received another trial delay Thursday to probe the other allegations against Bovell, Stolar said.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Citing Bovell's alleged reputation as a "rather rough character" with protesters, Stolar said he plans to use the new information in a motion urging the judge to search for other misconduct in police records that are typically confidential.
Meanwhile, Stolar previewed what could be described as a St. Paddy's Day defense as he wound up the phone interview to prepare with co-counsel Rebecca Heinegg for trial, now scheduled for March 3.
"You don't go to Zuccotti Park to assault a police officer intentionally dressed in bright green," Stolar said.