Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Testy Day in Court at Occupy Trial

MANHATTAN (CN) - The mood of an arrested protestor accused of assaulting a policeman during an Occupy Wall Street rally in 2012 went from "bubbly" to "negative" after she learned she was being held for assaulting an officer, the arresting officer testified Monday.

"It was like night and day," former New York Police Department Officer Lisa Waring said of Cecily McMillan's mood after she learned that she would not be given a "desk appearance ticket" to expedite her booking and sent on her way.

McMillan was arrested during the late night or early morning of March 17-18, 2012, during a rally at Zuccotti Park.

The rally marked the six-month anniversary of the protests against Wall Street, as well as St. Patrick's Day.

McMillan, 25, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted by a 15-member jury of 10 women and five men.

She has maintained that the officer she's accused of elbowing in the face, Grantley Bovell, groped her breast. Prosecutors say she played dead and faked a seizure to try to get out of being arrested.

During questioning Monday by Assistant District Attorney Erin Choi, Waring said she came upon the defendant as McMillan was being escorted off a city bus. McMillan was in handcuffs and waiting to be transported for processing, writhing back and forth and complaining she couldn't breathe, Waring said.

The officer purportedly knew nothing about McMillan's alleged scuffle with Bovell earlier that night.

"I just thought she needed help," Waring said of the encounter as they waited together for an ambulance to arrive. "I told her to just relax, everything's going to be OK, just try to breathe," Waring said.

Waring said she gave McMillan a coat and pulled down her lime-green miniskirt to prevent her from exposing herself, and held her head to prevent her from hitting it on the pavement while she writhed on the ground.

When an ambulance finally arrived, "She was OK, once she got into the ambulance," Waring said. "I was surprised."

She said that McMillan never complained of being in pain, didn't show any signs of cuts or bruises, and that she never mentioned that an officer had assaulted her that night.

Waring rode with McMillan to the hospital and stayed with her throughout the ordeal, she added.

When visitors came to see McMillan at the hospital, "she was sitting up ... was talkative, very good, very positive," and thanked Waring for being there with her, Waring said.

At a detention center afterward, McMillan was allegedly "sociable with other prisoners in the holding cell."

"She was still bubbly, still in a good mood," Waring said.

That lasted until they were back at the precinct where Waring got a call from a desk sergeant saying that McMillan was "not to be released because she had assaulted a police officer in his precinct."

"She was amazed," Waring said. "She said, 'If anyone, I was assaulted.'"

Soon after that, McMillan began to complain about back problems and asked to be taken back to the hospital, which was granted.

"Her demeanor toward me changed," Waring said. "She told a nurse, 'I don't want her near me,'" and accused Waring of being "unprofessional."

"She tried to have a nurse take her to a separate room, that she didn't want me there any longer, but I had to stay with her, she was my prisoner," Waring said. "I didn't have a conversation with her because she was so negative toward me."

Monday's testimony began and ended with heated remarks from New York County Judge Ronald Zweibel, as McMillan's defense attorney, Martin Stolar, tried to introduce as evidence several videos of McMillan's arrest taken with smartphones by fellow protestors.

In the morning, Zweibel snapped at McMillan for shaking her head in disagreement with his decision to limit the admission of videos at Stolar's insistence.

"Don't shake your head, Ms. McMillan," the judge said.

At the end of the day, with the jury out of the room, Stolar and Choi again went toe-to-toe on the admission of the videos, and the judge allowed Stolar to play them for his consideration.

After one video was played, a visibly upset McMillan dabbed tears from her eyes with a tissue and left the courtroom.

Stolar accused the judge of always taking "[prosecutors'] word all the time" and that "you never take mine."

Zweibel shot back: "That's an outrageous statement you're making."

Stolar wants to use the tapes to let the jury decide whether they think McMillan was faking a seizure at the time of her arrest, as prosecutors claim.

Prosecutor Choi accused Stolar of "cherry picking" videos to give the jury the impression that it "took a lot longer than it did" to have McMillan arrested and taken to the hospital - an attempt to try to "manipulate the timeline."

Stolar said that if his client was acting for the entire 10 minutes of her arrest, "She's a talent who deserves an Academy Award."

Zweibel shot back at Stolar: "I don't want you to win an Academy Award, either."

The trial resumes Wednesday.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.