Finally, More Details On That Bizarre Galveston Police Incident
In December, Hair Balls brought you the story of Dymond Milburn, a 12-year-old girl whose family is suing several Galveston police officers after the cops allegedly beat and injured her while trying to arrest her for suspected prostitution. The lawsuit claims that the police hopped out of an unmarked car at night, did not identify themselves and tried to arrest Milburn in her yard when the girl began screaming for her parents and fighting back. Several weeks later, police arrested Milburn at her middle school on charges of resisting arrest. The officers' attorney has insisted that his clients did nothing wrong.
Our initial blog item spread across the Web like wildfire, and within days big boys like CNN, Good Morning America and Inside Edition were trying to book Milburn's attorney, Anthony Griffin, on their shows to discuss the case. But to no avail.
Griffin tells Hair Balls that he simply ignored their offers without even a return phone call because it was the holiday season and because, as a Galveston resident who survived Hurricane Ike, "I'm more concerned about the hurricane than I am anything else right now and getting my office back together," says Griffin.
Since the initial wave of reports and news stories about Milburn's lawsuit, not much new info about the case has surfaced. Until now.
We've gotten a transcript of the original resisting-arrest trial, which ended in a mistrial October 2007. It's full of further details; whose side it helps most is not totally clear.
Galveston County District Judge Roy Quintanilla declared a mistrial after only two witnesses appeared, the second of which Quintanilla determined poisoned the whole trial.
The first witness was Terry Ritter, who owned several homes on Milburn's street. He testified that he calls the police between two and five times a week on average to report prostitution and drug dealing in the neighborhood and that he was the one who dialed 911 that night in 2006 regarding dealers and hookers.
A witness for the prosecution, Ritter said that the officers were marked and that they verbally identified themselves as police. He said he heard Milburn's mother and father yelling and getting angry. Ritter described the scene as "pretty much chaos and a lot of yelling."
There was threatening, too.
"I think pretty much everybody was kind of in a threatening manner and being vocal," Ritter testified. "And a policeman was threatening -- they were trying to arrest the young girl -- and they were threatening to arrest the mother, they were threatening to arrest the father, and at one point I heard them say, 'I'm going to arrest your dog, too, if you don't get your dog inside.'"
(Griffin says the dog was a 5-month-old puppy.)
Ritter testified that an officer suddenly took off running down the street after a drug dealer and wrestled him to the ground. With chaos all around him, Ritter said he called 911 once more.
"Everyone was losing their temper and control and yelling," Ritter testified. Then, he said, "the cavalry came," and soon "everything got pretty quiet pretty quick."
Reading a Galveston police report, Griffin said in court that the initial complaint involved "three female whites soliciting white males and male black dealer on location." Ritter then testified that he had never seen a black prostitute working the neighborhood. (Milburn is black.)
On cross-examination, Ritter admitted that he was about 300 feet away from Milburn's yard when the officers arrived and did not hear the officers identify themselves as they poured out of their van. Ritter also testified that he never saw Milburn during the incident but only heard voices.
(Griffin tells Hair Balls that he thinks Ritter "was just exaggerating. The car wasn't marked, there's no way in the world you can hear [from] a block away conversations that are taking place and the officers had a difficult time trying to explain what this child did wrong.")
The second witness was police officer David Roark of GPD's Vice & Narcotics Division, a seven-year veteran of the force.
Roark said he and his partners were patrolling the neighborhood two blocks from Milburn's home when the call for service came in. Roark said he was dressed in a light green shirt with "police" written on the back and front in black lettering.
Roark testified he did not catch the original complaint over the radio so he asked his partner, who said it was for two male dealers and prostitutes. When they arrived at the location, Roark testified, "I noticed what appeared to be a female, saw legs with, you know, shorts, dark shorts on was about all I could see walking towards us ... we identif[ied] ourselves as police. We're going to identify her for possible prostitutes that we were called to because it's the only female I see in the area."
Roark said Milburn ran away from him into a bush. As he tried to enter the bush to find her, "out come hands slapping at my face," he testified. He said Milburn at one point was trying to hold on to a tree while he tried to handcuff her.
"All I did was apply constant pressure against her behavior which was latching on with her right arm and right foot around the trunk of this tree and her left foot, of course, is still kicking and flailing at me. I don't know how she was doing it. It was pretty tremendous," he testified.
Roark told the court, "Well, the girl -- after I said, 'That's it, you're going to jail, no problems, no questions asked,' -- she kept striking and flailing about and then she yells out, 'Daddy, help me.' I'm like, Oh, Lord, Daddy? Why is she yelling Daddy? And then I hear footsteps, thump, thump, thump in the house. And I'm like, Oh man, that's Mr. Milburn. I know he doesn't like me because I told him before not to be selling dope out of his house and this must be his daughter."
Suddenly, Griffin cut Roark off in court and asked for the mistrial. The transcript pretty much ends there.
"[Roark] tired to taint the well by making negative reference to the dad," Griffin tells Hair Balls. "The dad did not know him from Adam. He just made it up. He never had any involvement with him."
It may be true that Milburn's father, Wilfred Milburn, did not know Roark, as Griffin claims, but he does have more than one drug-related arrest on his record, according to publicdata.com.
As for Roark's testimony that he did identify himself as a cop, Griffin says, "They didn't, they just went up and grabbed her. And I'm not sure it makes a big deal anyway when you're 12 and in your yard."
Finally, Griffin says that Milburn, who was hospitalized and suffered a bloody nose, a pair of black eyes and a sprained wrist, could not have retaliated the way Roark described.
"She couldn't do it," says Griffin, "because she was holding on to a tree and pictures show she had marks on her neck, you know she couldn't be being choked and slapping at the same time holding onto the tree."
The civil lawsuit is ongoing and Milburn's new criminal trial for resisting arrest is set for next week, says Griffin.
-- Chris Vogel
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.
- J.J. Watt Is Damn Near Immortal, Wins Third NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award
Fri., Feb. 19, 6:00pm
Fri., Feb. 19, 6:30pm
Fri., Feb. 19, 8:00pm
Sat., Feb. 20, 1:00pm
- No, Houston Will Not Make a Lot of Money Hosting the Super Bowl
- Charged With a Crime? You Might Be Paying a Court Fee That Is Basically Un-Enforceable