Trial for 4 officers accused in violent death of Tommie McGlothen Jr. begins June 13

The four officers are: Brian Ross, James LeClare, Treona McCarter, and D’Marea Johnson
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Published: Jun. 12, 2022 at 3:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 at 9:52 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The trial for the four Shreveport police officers accused in the 2020 death of Tommie McGlothen Jr. began on Monday, June 13.

The four officers are: Brian Ross, James LeClare, Treona McCarter, and D’Marea Johnson.

The trial was initially set to begin in December of 2021, but the officers waived their right to a trial by a jury. Now, a judge will decide on the case. The officers are facing charges of negligent homicide and malfeasance in office. It’s alleged that the officers used excessive force against McGlothen and that they failed to provide medical attention to him.

McGlothen died in police custody in April of 2020. KSLA was able to obtain dash cam video of his violent encounter with police.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE>>> Judge denies motion to throw out civil case involving in-custody death of Tommie McGlothen Jr.

The prosecution and defense counsel painted very different pictures of what happened on April 5, 2020. Prosecutors argued the officers treated McGlothen “less than human.” However, the defense argued that this is a case of “misplaced blame.”

Prosecutors argued the four officers seen in video used excessive force in beating, tazing and macing McGlothen, all in violation of police department policy. Prosecutors say video evidence will show officers treating McGlothen, a man suffering from schizophrenia, as less than human before he died after police allegedly threw him into the back of an SPD squad car. They say officers at no time told paramedics McGlothen had been struck, tazed or maced, and as a result, prosecutors claim McGlothen did not get needed medical treatment and died. Prosecutors also argued police should have known McGlothen was suffering a psychiatric episode because earlier in the day McGlothen’s family called police asking for help in having him involuntarily committed.

Defense attorneys argued that evidence at trial will show the officers were not to blame. They say McGlothen kicked and hit officers, spat at them, stabbed one officer with an ink pen and broke another’s finger during the scuffle. Defense attorneys also argued that the medical evidence and expert testimony will show the officers actions did not cause McGlothen’s death.

Prosecutors also introduced nine videos into evidence, including cell phone footage uncovered by KSLA after the incident, police dash cam footage, and surveillance video from the home on Eileen Lane where the violent encounter happened.

After opening statements, four witnesses took the stand, each saying McGlothen did seem to resist arrest – but that he also did not look or act right. Each stated they witnessed part of the encounter between SPD and McGlothen. They all say they saw officers struggle to get McGlothen in handcuffs and they saw him struck, tazed and slammed against the hood of the car.

Three of the witnesses said they saw two officers “toss” McGlothen into the back of a squad car. All four witnesses claim it took around 40-45 minutes before EMS paramedics in an ambulance arrived, with one recalling seeing fire fighters on the scene.

Before the trial began, the judge took up a matter involving KSLA video showing Tommie McGlothen’s encounter with police. In June 2020, Chief Investigative Reporter Stacey Cameron uncovered this cell phone video from someone who watched part of the arrest. The person who says they recorded it on their phone let Stacey record it with his Go-Pro.

The court subpoenaed Stacey to testify about the video. KSLA objected on the basis of reporter privilege laws. Our attorney Scott Sternberg reached an agreement with the court to provide the video and an affidavit so our job as journalists is not comprised in the courtroom.

“So when we got the subpoena from the district attorney, our first inclination was well how can we help, but not violate our journalistic ethics and the rules that we live by, confidential sources, things of that nature... We are going to provide the video with an affidavit that authenticates the video so that way both the defendant - the accused - the numerous accused, and the family of the victim can see the video and use it as a part of their case,” said KSLA’s Attorney Scott Sternberg.

Stacey’s video was entered into evidence this afternoon after a woman testified that she witnessed the entire incident from across the street. The witness said that Stacey’s video accurately portrayed what happened between McGlothen and the four officers charged in the case.

Judge Chris Victory will pick back up taking testimony Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

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