More on Dymond Milburn

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

So there’s been quite a bit of discusion around the Internet on the Dymond Milburn case since I posted on this Houston Press story this afternoon.  I guess if you aren’t used to these sorts of stories, it can seem a little implausible.  Which is why more than a few commenters at various sites have raised the possibility that the whole thing is a hoax.  If it is, it’s quite a hoax.  Like, on a Tawana Brawley scale.

So let’s clarify some misconceptions…

It’s all a hoax.

The lawsuit is very real. It was filed in August of this year.  Here’s a write-up from the Courthouse News Service from the day it was filed.  Here’s a copy (pdf) of the complaint.  If this is a hoax, Milburn, her family, and her attorney are going to great lengths to pull it off. Yes, her complaint likely paints what happened in a light quite favorable to her, and unfavorable to the police.  But I’d be very surprised if the major components of the complaint weren’t true.

This happened two years ago.  Why are you posting about it now?

The incident happened in August 2006.  The lawsuit was filed in August of this year.  Milburn’s attorney tipped off Houston Press reporter Chris Vogel, who wrote about the case yesterday.  I saw Vogel’s story, and blogged about the case today.

This is just one version of events, from Milburn’s lawyer.

Yes, and I made that clear in the post.  After I put up the post and talked to Vogel on the phone, he posted a response from the police officers’ lawyer, William Helfand.  You can read that here.

Here’s what isn’t in dispute:  Milburn was wrongly targeted during a prostitution raid.  The police were looking for white prostitutes.  Milburn is black.  She was apprehended by plain-clothes narcotics officers who emerged from a van as she stood outside her home.  She resisted.  The police have acknowledged they targeted the wrong house.  Three weeks later, Milburn was arrested at  her school, in front of her classmates, for “assaulting a public official.”  At some point, her father was arrested on a similar charge.  The judge declared a mistrial on the first day of Milburn’s trial.  According to Vogel, she’s scheduled to be tried again in February.

Milburn and her family are now suing the police officers who apprehended her.  They claim she was severely beaten during the raid.  According to the compliant, two hours after the raid, Milburn’s parents took her to a hospital, where doctors documented a host of nasty injuries.  I haven’t seen documentation of the hospital stay or the injuries, but if that’s all included in the complaint, I would assume it exists.

I called the Galveston police department and the Galveston district attorney’s office for comment.  I haven’t yet heard back from either.

Milburn has profiles on social networking sites that say she’s 17.  That means she would have been 15 at the time of the raid, not 12.

I’m not linking to a minor’s social networking page, particularly a minor who may have been the victim of abuse.  She doesn’t need a bunch of crazies trying to contact her.  Use Google, or check the comments if you’re interested, but yes, she does state in one of her profiles that she’s 17. My guess is that Milburn exaggerated her age, as teenage girls sometimes do on the Internet.  This high school track and field results page, found by a commenter, says she was born in 1993.  If her birthday falls later in the year than August, she would have been 12 at the time of the raid, as indicated in the complaint.

If it’s true, why hasn’t an outrageous story like this been picked up by the national media?

Why don’t 90 percent of the abuses of power we look at on this site get covered by the national media?  The lawsuit was filed in August of an election year.  A single instance of police misconduct in Galveston at that time would have quite a few other stories to compete with.  As to why the story wasn’t covered in 2006, Vogel tells me the raid took place in a low-income neighborhood.  I would guess that after a traumatic experience like that, and after the seemingly retributive arrest, the family was either too frightened to take their story to the media, or couldn’t get anyone to listen when they did.

I’ll post more information on this case as I learn of it.

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74 Responses to “More on Dymond Milburn”

  1. #1 |  CharlesWT | 

    Battle of the Badges Monroe — Sean Stewart (Galveston Police Dept.)

  2. #2 |  btweenus2001 | 

    This is an amazing story. And just as someone metioned earlier, where the hell is Nancy Grace? It seems that crimes against little Black girls is never a news “priority” …elitist???

    I’m amazed at some of the mentality from some of you.

    The girl was twelve. Do any of you remember what it was like to be 12 years old…twelve years old. My issue with some comments (Alek) is there seems to be a need to rationalize this crime based upon “guilt by her environment”. I personally have worked in the sex industry with a ministry that helps women who wish to leave sexually oriented businesses. This child was no prostitute. Trust me, one of the main things rehearsed in “prostitute etiquette” is that the police can be your friend, do not resist.

    Because this child was afraid,and well she should have been, if she were familiar with street etiquette, a regular prostitution arrest would not have gone down like that, unless the officers already had contempt for the environment in their heart.

    While I think we all agree that resisting arrest is against the law, in the future you might not want to jump from a car, in plain clothes, snatching a child, literally from her home. Hopefully, with efficient records, it will be determined that their lights did go off and the parents of this child sent her to the breaker box…case cosed to reset the breaker

    And since when does prostitution require such force…I don’t give a damn that she resisted, given the situation, she should have done exactly that! And yes, time will tell…

  3. #3 |  CharlesWT | 

    Officer Sean Stewart was made an Officer of the Year (.pdf, page 5) this year.

  4. #4 |  Douglas | 

    I would like to see a report from the local Galveston press concerning the original incident(s). I searched for it and have found nothing. I am sure there is something underlying this lawsuit but I can’t seem to find anything about it in the local press. I searched the Galveston County paper’s archives back to 2004 and found only mentions of the girl’s name (or just the last name) in the Sports pages. I am sure the writer of these articles on the case has thoroughly investigated and not just relied on phone calls and the court filing on the lawsuit.

  5. #5 |  wiggles | 

    Does anyone know the stated reason the criminal trial against Dymond Milburn was declared a mistrial? Did at least that judge grok how insane it is to criminally charge a twelve-year-old for defending herself from an attempted kidnapping? I’d like to read a statement, if one’s available, but I haven’t found one so far.

  6. #6 |  TheBlackCritic | 

    It’s rare to hear something being said as bluntly as it may need to be said: http://theblackcritic.com/?p=905

    How To Beat Down Black Women & Get Away With It

    “Beating down Black women is the perfect pass-time hobby because there are no real consequences. The worst that can happen to you is a few weeks of paid suspension. You don’t even have to worry about some gang of vigilante Black dudes seeking out revenge. They are mostly cowards masquerading as men.”

  7. #7 |  Frank | 

    #53 Not surprised. Outraged, but not surprised. The writing was on the wall when those Federal Marshals got medals for killing a boy and his dog in Idaho.

  8. #8 |  Sad Recent Victim of HPD | 

    No one who lives in this area (Houston) would be shocked by this story. Galveston is a little less than an hour south of here. The whole area here is phenomenally corrupt. False arrests on made-up charges that actually stick in the kangaroo courts around here are the norm. The police are butal criminals. I was recently pulled out of our truck at a garage sale by Houston police, held at gunpoint in the shadows, finger on the trigger and his hand shaking to my back, told not to look at his face, not to talk to him. My husband has been twice unlawfully detained and myself once in about a two month period of time. The violence done to us resulted in a still birth for me and my near death. As soon as humanly possible we are leaving this cess pool. We fear for our lives from both the cops and the non-uniformed criminals here. We never knew who our assailants were, but police engaged in criminal activity anywhere in this area is not unusual.

    Believe me! No one here would think for an instant that this story was a hoax. Presently, I just don’t leave the house unless I absolutely have to and the general rule here is, unless you want to have a member of you family gunned down, don’t call the cops here for anything.

  9. #9 |  Police Assault 12 year old girl.....Allegedly! - Page 4 - Southern Maryland Community Forums | 

    […] of those ‘Let’s get them riled up with a really old story that’s no longer newsworthy’ posts. Here’s some updated material. __________________ "Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society’s […]

  10. #10 |  Here’s what isn’t in dispute: Dymond and Clara – women in and beyond the global | 

    […] Radley Balko picked up on the story, and then it took off into the blogosphere. Later, Balko updated his account: “Here’s what isn’t in dispute:  Milburn was wrongly targeted during a […]

  11. #11 |  Student_Teacher | 

    A citizen’s right to resist UNLAWFUL arrest. (Court Rulings)
    found on dailypaul.com
    http://www.dailypaul….

    As citizens of the United States of America, we must understand that we are the rulers of our own lives and each of us holds sovereign rights over our bodies and liberties.

    We must also understand that when police officers or government officials break the law they no longer hold any authority what so ever. In the instant they act outside the law and under color of authority or jurisdiction we have a right and duty to resist.

    Below are some very interesting court decisions and legal precedents in which honorable judges and juries have found the right to resist with mortal force is the right of all free citizens.

    All law enforcement and government officials should be made of aware of these facts. Maybe that will raise some eyebrows instead of billy clubs and ltasers.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    “Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. The Court stated: “Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed.”

    “An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than an involuntary manslaughter.” Housh v. People, 75 111. 491; reaffirmed and quoted in State v. Leach, 7 Conn. 452; State v. Gleason, 32 Kan. 245; Ballard v. State, 43 Ohio 349; State v Rousseau, 241 P. 2d 447; State v. Spaulding, 34 Minn. 3621.

    “When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified.” Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.

    “These principles apply as well to an officer attempting to make an arrest, who abuses his authority and transcends the bounds thereof by the use of unnecessary force and violence, as they do to a private individual who unlawfully uses such force and violence.” Jones v. State, 26 Tex. App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93, 903.

    “An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.” (State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260).

    “Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.” (State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100).

    “One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.” (Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910).

    “Story affirmed the right of self-defense by persons held illegally. In his own writings, he had admitted that ‘a situation could arise in which the checks-and-balances principle ceased to work and the various branches of government concurred in a gross usurpation.’ There would be no usual remedy by changing the law or passing an amendment to the Constitution, should the oppressed party be a minority. Story concluded, ‘If there be any remedy at all … it is a remedy never provided for by human institutions.’ That was the ‘ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice.’” (From Mutiny on the Amistad by Howard Jones, Oxford University Press, 1987, an account of the reading of the decision in the case by Justice Joseph Story of the Supreme Court.

    As for grounds for arrest: “The carrying of arms in a quiet, peaceable, and orderly manner, concealed on or about the person, is not a breach of the peace. Nor does such an act of itself, lead to a breach of the peace.” (Wharton’s Criminal and Civil Procedure, 12th Ed., Vol.2: Judy v. Lashley, 5 W. Va. 628, 41 S.E. 197)

  12. #12 |  Police assault 12-year-old girl after mistaking her for a prostitute - Exodus Portal | 

    […] blogger defended the story from accusations that it was a hoax because it has not been picked up by the national media and many of the facts come from the […]

  13. #13 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » One of the Cops That Jumped Dymond Milburn Named 2008 Galveston “Officer of the Year” | 

    […] posts on Milburn’s lawuit here and […]

  14. #14 |  12 year old girl beaten for resisting arrest - Abibitumi Kasa Afrikan Language and Liberation Institutes and Community Networks | 

    […] back and yelling for help. The fact that she’s being criminalized for it is beyond comprehension. Apparently the Milburns have filed a lawsuit against the police department. Hopefully they’re successful. This case is especially compelling because it involves an innocent […]

  15. #15 |  nattypol | 

    Assuming that the story we’ve heard so far is an accurate rendering of events, is a lawsuit enough? Not only was this girl assaulted by grown men, she was then arrested at school for daring to resist by an unrepentant police force. Will civil damages set matters right and act as a sufficient deterrent to such behavior in the future?

  16. #16 |  Spockman | 

    I wonder why the media spent so much time on the ‘Don’t taze me bro’ case and this one is perpetuated by the internet far more then newsstations. Does the media just desire for two-sided stories? Is it just that people don’t want to hear what really happens so the media tells them what they like? Or is it the news stations that dare pawns?

    It’s a screwy ‘democracy’ that we are living in when an officer can stick cocaine down your shorts then get you imprisoned for possession. Fortunatley, things this despicable are still viewed as wrong when people hear them.

    That’s why I don’t think that we are beyond return. While people still have a moral compass, if things like this where exposed the establishment would garner less and less support.

    But at the end of the day, we are still living under government control. The lay person will deny it, claiming that we still ‘basically’ have our freedom of speech. We only have that freedom because it’s convenient and even then with limitation. It’s just, that for the majority of the populace, (not including this family,) life under government control isn’t so bad yet, so it’s hard to detect. The path to 1984 is a gradual one…

    I really hate to sound kind of like Lincoln Rockwell, but Jefferson was right in saying, ‘When the government fears it’s people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tryanny.’

    The next major step will be our guns, then a serious blow will further limit free enterprise, then things like street preaching will be criminailized saying that it ‘hurts the rights of listeners who don’t want to hear it’ and that ‘it incites riots’ and that ‘it should stay in churches and political forums where people have the choice to live.

    These new regs will of course be used as justification for a plethera of clever ways to limit speech. Part of me, (regrettably,) thinks that when the next step is initiated, (gun control,) a civil war would be… better than the alternative, (totalitarianism.) But I hope and pray that we turn around before then. Starting with a receptive/ethical population and followed up by the media doing it’s ‘responsibility’ to inform. (The primary reason the freedom of press was so stretched by people like Thomas Jefferson and Sam Adams)

  17. #17 |  Spockman | 

    ((Major typos. When I said ‘it should stay in churches and political forums where people have the choice to live.’ I meant the choice to ‘hear’ not ‘live’ which makes no contextual sense. And the news stations don’t dare pawns, they ‘are’ pawns. Sorry about that. I also ranted a little… Apologies for that.))

  18. #18 |  Opera Tronickss » Blog Archive | 

    […] allegedly beat her. Radley Balko posted an update clearing some misconceptions about the story here. Prostitution raid on 12-year-old honor […]

  19. #19 |  Acanthus | 

    “I searched for it and have found nothing. I am sure there is something underlying this lawsuit but I can’t seem to find anything about it in the local press. I searched the Galveston County paper’s archives back to 2004 and found only mentions of the girl’s name (or just the last name) in the Sports pages. I am sure the writer of these articles on the case has thoroughly investigated and not just relied on phone calls and the court filing on the lawsuit.”

    If you think there was something in that particular newspaper at the time of the incident, or that any GDN reporter throughly investigated it at any point, you don’t know the Galveston Daily News. That paper is all about local boosterism, and bowing down to the local powers that be.

  20. #20 |  UcuzHosting Blog | Magazin,haber,oyun,video,oyun indir,dosya indir,dosya yükle - Plainclothes allegedly police beat up 12-year-old honor student girl then arrest her 3 weeks later | 

    […] allegedly beat her. Radley Balko posted an update clearing some misconceptions about the story here. Prostitution raid on 12-year-old honor […]

  21. #21 |  Traveler’s Advisory for East Texas: Warrantless Searches, False Arrests, Paramilitary-Style Raids, Fraudulent Laws, Thieving and Murderous Polic « Angela Kaelin’s Freedom Blog | 

    […] promoted or given awards for their performance. Notice the problem that I addressed above at this link. The story is so outrageous that many people thought it was a hoax. But, it really did happen. This […]

  22. #22 |  Traveler's Advisory for Houston, TX: Constitution-Free Zone | 

    […] promoted or given awards for their performance. Notice the problem that I addressed above at this link. The story is so outrageous that many people thought it was a hoax. But, it really did happen. This […]

  23. #23 |  Traveler's Advisory for Houston, TX: Constitution-Free Zone | Houston Law | 

    […] promoted or given awards for their performance. Notice the problem that I addressed above at this link. The story is so outrageous that many people thought it was a hoax. But, it really did happen. This […]

  24. #24 |  Traveler’s Advisory for Houston, TX: Constitution-Free Zone - TrenDigg | 

    […] promoted or given awards for their performance. Notice the problem that I addressed above at this link. The story is so outrageous that many people thought it was a hoax. But, it really did happen. This […]