A Virginia teen whose video went viral last year, showing cops ordering him inside a home while he was trying to record police activity in his neighborhood, was found guilty Thursday morning for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, even though the video shows he was doing nothing more than recording when they approached him.
However, the cops testified that prior to the video, Devin Thomas was “inciting the crowd by yelling obscenities.”
But that’s hard to believe considering he didn’t utter a single profanity when they confronted him, ordering him inside his home before pouncing on him and allegedly smashing his face with a baton.
But Thomas is a 19-year-old black man in a conservative state, so video evidence obviously doesn’t carry much weight against the testimony of police officers.
According to NBC 12:
Devin Thomas was found guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. The charges stem from an incident involving Thomas and police in June 2014. Video of the incident went viral and Thomas’ claim that an officer assaulted him because he was recording a traffic stop on his cell phone led to protests.
Two officers testified they were trying to secure the scene of a traffic stop when several citizens came out of their homes. They told a judge Thomas was inciting the crowd by yelling obscenities and refused to leave the area despite repeated requests. Officers say the recorded confrontation occurred when they went to arrest Thomas.
The video, posted below, runs for almost ten seconds without him saying a word before a cop approaches him and asks, “do you live out here?”
Then the cop, joined by another cop, start ordering him inside a house, forcing him backwards with their bodies. While it’s difficult to understand, Thomas sounds as if he is telling them he needs to walk to another home, but they insist he walk into that house.
One cop asks his age and he responds by telling him, but then that cop pounces on him, taking him by surprise.
“What’cha doing? What’cha doing, man. I didn’t do nothing,” Thomas can be heard saying as he is getting arrested.
Thomas claimed the cop smashed his face with a baton, but police denied that.
However, a photo of him being led away in handcuffs shows blood on his face.
The photo also shows police entering the house behind him, which seems a little intrusive considering they were supposedly there on a mere traffic stop.
There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of resisting or disorderly conduct, which are two of the most common contempt of cop charges used by police when they can’t a legitimate charge to jail somebody on.
As somebody who was also convicted for resisting arrest in 2008 for an arrest where I was photographing cops, only to reverse the conviction upon appeal, I would say he has strong grounds for appeal because unless police introduced evidence that has not been made public, they did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed any crime.
It was obvious he was arrested for recording cops. And it was obvious he was convicted of the same.
UPDATE: It was a judge, not a jury who convicted Thomas; a judge who seems far from impartial, which makes this case even more ripe for appeal.
After he found Thomas guilty, the judge sentenced the teen to 18 months in jail, but suspended the sentence for three years. He ordered Thomas to perform 80 hours community service by April 16, 2015. If he fails to perform his mandatory hours, he would have to go before a Petersburg judge again.
The Deputy Commonwealth Attorney from Colonial Heights Gray Collins, refused many of the questions asked following court, because of a possible appeal.
“He deserves a fair trial just like any other defendant, so does Ofc. Richard who’s not on trial,” Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Gray Collins said. “Police deserve a fair chance to present their case in court.”
In court, the judge told Thomas he was “walking a tight rope” as this was not his first time in court. The judge warned Thomas if he does anything else to get in trouble with the law, Thomas would “probably be going to jail.”