Detroit cop who punched hospital patient wants new trial
The Detroit Police officer who was convicted and given probation for repeatedly punching a mentally ill woman inside a Detroit hospital is seeking a new trial, his lawyer said Thursday.
In a video that went viral, Detroit Police Cpl. Dewayne B. Jones, a 20-year police veteran, is seen hitting the 29-year-old woman with his fists Aug. 1, 2018, in the emergency area of Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Jones, 48, was convicted and given probation last May by 36th Court Judge Kenneth King, who said during his sentencing of the officer that Jones looked "like a rogue officer gone wild."
A court request was sent Wednesday to King seeking a Ginther Hearing, a motion seeking a new trial.
No date has been set for the hearing.
Jones' appeal also cites jury instructions regarding the "reasonableness" of force. Jones contends jurors should have been given instructions geared in incidents involving police officers, Deputy Detroit Police Chief Grant Ha said Thursday.
Ha said Jones also is requesting the appeal because his attorney did not call an expert in the use of force during the trial in 36th District Court.
Jones' appellate attorney, Margaret Sind Raben, said the basis of the appeal is whether jurors were properly instructed on the use of training of police officers in situations when they have to use reasonable force.
"I saw a number of things that really concerned me about the control of the case ... the arguments, the jury instructions," said Raben. "There is a particular standard for evaluating the use of force by police officers.
"(Police officers) are trained to evaluate citizen conduct," Raben said. "I understand she was profoundly mentally ill ... her conduct was uncontrollable until Corporal Jones stepped in there ... to get a hold of her."
Raben added, "There was a lot more going on before Corporal Jones used 'hard hand' strikes, which is permissible force by police departments, against the woman."
Jones went back to full duty last year, according to an officer in the Detroit Police Department's Public Information Office.
During his trial for misdemeanor assault and battery charges, Jones' attorney Pamella Szydlak argued the veteran officer had followed department protocol for dealing with a combative subject who poses a public threat. The homeless woman punched by Jones was described as being out-of-control, violent and combative.
Szydlak argued that her client has been a "dedicated honest, sincere and outstanding" police officer.
"He has dedicated his entire adult life to criminal justice," she said in court last May. "Still, our position is that Corporal Jones acted (within the guidelines) of his training."
Jones was given probation following his conviction last March. He was ordered to attend anger management classes for punching the woman and also ordered to perform 15 days of community service and to pay a $500 fine and about $300 in court-related courts and fee when he was sentenced two months later.
The police officer could have been sentenced to 93 days in jail. In sentencing Jones, King said the video footage of the incident "did not look good" but added that he had a "crystal clear" department record.
Witnesses testified during the trial that Jones repeatedly punched the woman after she spit at him and bit him while Jones and other officers were trying to calm her down in the early evening of Aug. 1.
No date has been scheduled for a hearing in 36th District Court on whether Jones should be given a new trial.
Community activists criticized Jones' bid for a new trial.
"He should've been convicted of a felony the first time," said Chris White, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. "Corporal Jones's actions were disrespectful to our homeless population and place a strain on police-community relations."
Detroit activist Scotty Boman, who has maintained that Jones should not have been let back on the police force, said he believes the appeal is a legal ploy to preserve Jones' pension.
"So what if he wants to protect his pension?" Raben said, adding that Jones is entitled to an appeal. She added there would have been a "different verdict" if jurors had been "educated" on the standards governing a police officer's use of force.