Cop Testifies About Fateful Arrest of Occupier
MANHATTAN (CN) - An Occupy Wall Street activist accused of assaulting a police officer faced a damaging day of testimony Friday from the officer who says she elbowed him in the eye and then played dead and faked a seizure.
Cecily McMillan stands accused of assaulting New York City Police Officer Grantley Bovell on March 17, 2012, which marked both the sixth-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park and St. Patrick's Day. The 25-year-old, who wore a pink dress and three strands of peals to court Friday, faces up to seven years if convicted by the 15-member jury, in which women outnumber men 2 to 1.
Continuing his cross-examination of Bovell, defense attorney Martin Stolar asked the officer about his disciplinary record.
On Wednesday, the officer had testified about his involvement in a 2010 ticket-fixing scandal. He revealed Friday that he was disciplined that same year for violating police department rules by failing to put in a call over the system when a police car in which he was riding hit a dirt biker.
Stolar implied that Bovell was trying to run the driver off the road after the two collided. The defense attorney also pointed out an investigation of Bovell involving the officer's scuffle with a Bronx man. Though Stolar intimated that Bovell kicked the man in the teeth and broke his own foot in the process, Assistant District Attorney Erin Choi pointed out that Bovell was exonerated of wrongdoing in that case.
While Bovell, sporting glasses, a goatee and his uniform, testified, one of McMillan's supporters in the packed court jumped up from his seat and shouted.
"Say no to the Police State," he said. "I won't shut up! Don't cooperate with these fascists! Free Cecily now! Get the fuck out of here!"
Guards escorted the man out of the courtroom, with only a "sh!" from one fellow observer in the courtroom.
Bovell spoke about the incident with McMillan late that March night, saying the police were there to clear out the park so that it could be cleaned.
He said he approached McMillan and began to escort her out when she allegedly screamed: "We shouldn't have to leave! Are you filming this? Are you filming this?"
"I looked and didn't see anything," he said. "She crouched down and threw an elbow."
"It was unprovoked as far as I know," Bovell said. "I was shocked."
McMillan has maintained that she threw the elbow because Bovell had grabbed her breast.
Bovell said McMillan changed attitude after her resistance and started "to act dead, not moving her feet."
"I had to drag her along somewhat," Bovell said.
Noting that the two of them then fell, with Bovell landing on top of her, the officer testified: "If you play dead, you're going to fall."
As the officer escorted McMillan to a waiting bus, she allegedly started "rolling around, chanting, screaming."
Bovell said McMillan then jumped up and ran toward the barricades while shouting.
"I don't know what she was saying, but I know I had to get her," he said. "I just shook my head and laughed."
That's when McMillan started shaking.
"It looked like she was faking a seizure," Bovell said. "I've seen people fake seizures and that's what it looked like."
Looking for discrepancies in Bovell's testimony, Stolar noted that the officer had testified earlier before a grand jury that he was hit in his right eye, but is now saying he was hit in the left eye.
The needling failed to shake Bovell. "That was a mistake, but not from me," he said.
Prosecutors will present a new witness when the trial continues Monday.