Four aggravated battery against a police officer charges reduced to one misdemeanor resisting arrest charge
CHICAGO, IL â€“ Yesterday, Mr. Gary Wagaman entered a negotiated plea agreement to one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest on June 6, 2012 during a â€œcasseroleâ€ march that was held in solidarity with student strikes in Montreal. He was originally charged with four counts of felony aggravated battery against a Chicago police officer and alleged to have thrown a deadly weaponâ€”a frying panâ€”at the officer. Casserole marches typically include protesters using pots, pans, and kitchen utensils as noise makers. The prosecutors conceded that the evidence in the case did not show that the officer involved in the incident was hit with a frying pan, much less that Wagaman was guilty of those offenses. Wagaman received credit for the 16 days he spent in Cook County Jail after his arrest and did not receive any probation or fines.
Supporters of Wagaman and other protesters arrested at the casserole march last year noted that the prosecutors offered this negotiated plea agreement after stating at the last court hearing that they had not reviewed a video that had been entered into evidence. Reducing charges after reviewing evidence is a common occurrence in politically motivated cases since the charges are meant to punish and discourage dissent rather than maintain law and order, supporters have asserted. The prosecutors also clearly negotiated the plea agreement in a way that protected the police from being sued for an unlawful arrest and other civil rights violations, supporters noted.
â€œGary was offered this plea agreement because the prosecutors knew that the evidence would show that the police officer completely fabricated the accusation that he had been hit with a frying pan,â€ said Adesina Clay, an activist in Chicago. â€œReducing the charges to a misdemeanor shows that the prosecutors knew they couldn’t convince anyone to believe the cop, who was in fact the only one that day who was acting violently and hitting people. We’re glad Gary can finally put this whole ordeal behind him and get on with his life and his organizing for social justice.â€
Wagaman sustained ligament damage during his arrest and was denied medical treatment for the first part of his two-and-a-half week incarceration in Cook County Jail. He was also held â€œin the holeâ€ in jail and denied amenities such as toilet paper for seven days. His bond was set at $50,000 and funds were raised by activists and supporters in Detroit and Chicago to secure his release. Supporters assert that his treatment while in custody is part of the jail’s typical abysmal and inhumane treatment of prisoners, which is designed to break their spirits and strip them of their humanity.
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