After deliberating for four months, jurors acquitted three former Oakland, Ca., police officers of eight charges, including kidnapping. But they deadlocked on the remaining 27 charges, unable to reach a unanimous decision on each. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that during the deliberations, jurors “hurled insults at each other and even discussed ‘Dirty Harry’ — the rogue cop who believed the ends justify the means.” In the end, jurors agreed that they didn’t believe the prosecution’s star witness.
The Chronicle says rookie cop Keith Batt’s testimony that supervisors routinely beat and framed poor black drug dealers fell flat before a largely suburban jury. “Personally, I didn’t believe Batt at all,” said the jury foreman, a law student. Nor did jurors believe the testimony of the alleged victims. Two black alternate jurors who saw nine months of testimony but did not participate in deliberations said the white-dominated jury “had no clue about black communities’ poor relations with police” and that the three Oakland cops were clearly guilty. The alternate said “the victims were all black, and most of the jurors are from bedroom communities where there are not many black people.”
When the trial began last September, Batt testified that the three officers ran roughshod over young African American men, beating them, planting drugs on them and filing false reports to justify their actions. Batt admitted that he hadn’t lost any sleep over the bogus arrests. His honesty might have backfired with jurors, who agreed with defense portrayals of him as a liar. One juror said he supported guilty verdicts only where Batt’s testimony was corroborated by others.