Closing Arguments in Occupier's Assault Trial
MANHATTAN (CN) - Attorneys on both sides in the case against an Occupy Wall Street activist facing felony charges for elbowing a police officer in the face presented closing arguments Friday to the jury.
The seven-man, five-woman jury are expected to begin deliberating Monday to decide the fate of Cecily McMillan, the 25-year-old student activist accused of elbowing NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell at Zuccotti Park during a March 17, 2012, rally marking the six-month anniversary of the Occupation movement.
She could face up to seven years in prison if convicted.
"This was a celebration," McMillan's attorney, Martin Stobel told the jury. "But the police department had other ideas."
Stobel said Bovell grabbed McMillan's breast, lifted her off the ground and threw her down, face-first, which caused McMillan to swing an elbow at his face out of instinct, without knowing he was an officer.
"She's the queen of nonviolence," Stobel said of McMillan's reputation among other Occupiers. "She is not someone who goes around hitting cops. It's just not her."
"She has no motive, no reason" to do this, Stobel said.
He again showed the jury blown-up photographs of McMillan in her underwear taken after the incident depicting bruises all over her body, including a hand-sized bruise just above her right breast.
"Where did it come from?" he asked. "How did that magically get there?"
"You don't have to like her," Stobel said. "But she's a human being."
In her closing remarks, Assistant District Attorney Erin Choi told the jury it was a "very simple assault case. This is not about rich or poor or anything related to Occupy Wall Street."
Choi said McMillan turned to her friends with a smart phone and asked, "'Are you filming this? Are you filming this?' to make sure that she had an audience who watched her assault a police officer."
McMillan then cocked her elbow and jumped up to hit the officer in the face, Choi said.
Several protesters at the rally carried smart phones, and several videos of the incident were posted online. Choi again played one of those videos for the jurors.
"There's no question that it was this defendant who struck Officer Bovell with her elbow," Choi said.
Choi said the notion that the officer came up from behind her and lifted her up by one hand by grabbing her breast and then throwing her face-first into the ground was "absolutely offensive," and that the allegation is "heinous."
Prosecutors say that after the assault, McMillan "played dead" and faked a seizure in a "desperate and unconvincing attempt" to avoid arrest. When that didn't work, Choi says, she concocted the story "to gain sympathy" and "to get herself out of this predicament."
Choi also challenged McMillan's recollection of the event, and noted how, while on the witness stand, McMillan remembered where she went that day, what she ate, what she drank, and what she wore - but doesn't remember throwing the elbow.
"She remembered everything - except when she committed a crime" of assaulting a police officer, Choi said. "How convenient for her."
When the jury returns Monday to begin deliberations, it will begin the fifth week that the trial has played out in Manhattan Criminal Court before Judge Ronald Zweibel.
The court has been packed with McMillan's Occupy supporters each day, and Occupiers have stayed connected and updated on her case through Twitter feeds and other websites.
If convicted, McMillan's felony charge will be the most serious conviction of the thousands of Occupiers who have moved through the court system during and after the Occupy demonstrations.