Witness: Cop 'lost it' when woman spit at him in hospital
Jurors watched cellphone and hospital surveillance videos showing a Detroit Police corporal repeatedly punching a naked and mentally ill woman inside a hospital as Dewayne Jones went on trial Thursday for misdemeanor assault and battery.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Joshua Holman told jurors in 36th District Court that Jones "landed" several blows on the mentally ill woman during the Aug. 1 incident at Detroit Receiving Hospital and hit her in the head, shoulder and back as many as 13 times during the 15-second incident.
"(The woman) was going through a clear mental breakdown," said Holman during testimony before Judge Kenneth King. "It was clear she was not in her right mind. Some say Officer Jones did not have a right to strike (the woman). She did not represent any physical threat or harm to him."
A nurse, Mindy Drain, and another hospital employee, Rebecca Means, testified they saw the patient acting irate and aggressively at the hospital.
Drain said the woman did not initially exhibit any signs of mental illness but soon began making threats as Jones and several hospital officers tried to restrain her.
"She was surrounded by people," said Drain. "She was spitting and yelling at everybody."
"Once the spitting started, everything went crazy," said Rebecca Means, a patient representative for Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Means admitted she didn't witness every part of the incident but said she could "hear" the woman spitting and when she began spitting at Jones, "he lost it."
Jones' defense attorney Pamella Szydlak told jurors in her opening statement that the mentally ill woman spit on her client and bit him twice.
Szydlak said Jones was taking the woman into the hospital's crisis unit to be evaluated when he and his partner saw her near the hospital. She said the officer got a sheet for the woman, covered her up and took her into Detroit Receiving.
The defense attorney said shortly after the woman was in the hospital, she became "vulgar, violent and aggressive."
"You can see the anger in her face, the venom in her face," said Szydlak, adding that the woman became more aggressive in spite of Jones' efforts to calm her and protect hospital staff.
"He understands that she's mentally ill but mentally ill people can become dangerous too," said Szydlak. "She is even more aggravated and violent."
The woman spit at Jones and bit him twice after he told her to sit down, the defense attorney said.
"That's when Corporal Jones knows (he) has a problem," said Szydlak. "She 's still aggressive and ready to fight."
Jones did "exactly what he was trained and required to do," he said.
The woman is not expected to testify during the trial, which is expected to last two more days. Jones' attorney would not say Thursday whether he will take the stand in his own defense.
The maximum penalty for misdemeanor assault and battery is up to 93 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
Felony charges were dropped in January against Jones by 36th District Court Judge Cylenthia Miller, who said the woman "was completely out of control" and that Jones "had the presence of mind" to get control of her.
Two protesters carried placards outside the 36th District Courthouse before the start of Jones' trial Thursday.
Scotty Boman and Marilyn Jordan, of the citizens' group Detroit Residents Advancing Civilian Oversight, said they are disappointed that Jones is no longer facing stiffer charges.
"Officers should serve and protect," said Boman, who added that officers should have training on alternative ways to restrain people, especially when dealing with those who are mentally ill.