Police Protester Faces|Up to a Year in Jail

ST. LOUIS (CN) — A St. Louis jury on Wednesday convicted a protester of assaulting a police officer after an encounter with Police Chief Sam Dotson.
     Elizabeth Vega was arrested last year outside the home of a city prosecutor who had just announced she would not prosecute the policeman who had shot a teenager to death in 2014.
     The jury in city court deliberated for about an hour and 40 minutes before finding Vega, 49, guilty of misdemeanor assault. It is punishable by up to a year in jail.
     Vega, of St. Louis, was arrested on May 19, 2015, during a protest outside the home of St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce. The protest came after Joyce announced that day that she would not prosecute the police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old VonDerrit Myers Jr. on Oct. 8, 2014.
     Police Chief Dotson testified Tuesday in Associate Circuit Judge Nicole Colbert Botchway’s court that he arrived outside Joyce’s house to see protesters “who were very amped up, very agitated.”
     Dotson said the first officers to arrive had fired pepper spray at some of the protesters. He said he was standing in a street and saw Vega, whom he recognized from other protests. He said she walked directly toward him.
     “She said, ‘You did this to me. You did this to us. (Expletive) you. (Expletive) the police,'” Dotson said. “She took her arm and wiped it across my chest.”
     Dotson arrested her and grabbed her wrist. She went limp and fell onto the street, he told the jury.
     Vega told the jury a different story. She said she never cursed Dotson or any other officer and never intended to make contact with the chief.
     “We started walking toward each other, and he tells me to back up,” Vega testified. “I said, ‘No, your men are the ones who escalated this.’ I stopped and he continued to walk toward me … The next thing I know, my arm is on his shirt because he bumped into my hand. He said, ‘That’s assault.'”
     Vega will be sentenced on Nov. 21.

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