The Case Of That 12-Year-Old Girl Beat up By Galveston Cops Drags On
It hardly seemed possible, but things are getting ever weirder in the case of Dymond Milburn, the 12-year-old African-American girl whose mother claims in court that several Galveston cops jumped out of an unmarked van, tried to kidnap Dymond and then beat her up in her front yard for no real reason at all.
The case had been scheduled for trial in Houston federal court, but recently things have gone sideways, including a last-minute appeal to the 5th Circuit over a ruling and claims from Milburn's attorney that the defense team is in cahoots with a mediator to try to get the case dismissed.
According to court documents, the two sides entered mediation in May, but were unable to reach any settlement. At that point, claims Milburn's attorney, Anthony Griffin, the clock started running and the defense had 30 days to submit requests to the court. On September 16, however, the Galveston officers' defense team asked the court to dismiss the case based upon qualified immunity, meaning that the officers were just doing their job and are thereby shielded from civil liability. A month later, the judge denied the motion, stating that it was not filed in time.
Since then, defense lawyer William Helfand, who did not respond to Hair Balls' request for comment, has filed an appeal of the judge's decision to dismiss his motion. He claims, according to court records, that the 30-day clock to make requests did not start in May but rather in September, when the mediator sent a letter to the judge stating that the two sides were at an impasse and could not reach a settlement.
Enter the allegations that the mediator and defense lawyers were conspiring together.
Griffin says that it was clear that the mediation ended in May, not in September, as Helfand claims.
"We were so far apart, it was curious as to why we were even there," says Griffin. "I think the mediator is buddies with the defense lawyer and he simply got him to write a letter late in the game. They're trying to re-establish the history of the case, designed to try to get around the timeline and make it seem like the judge was being unreasonable. He was not being unreasonable."
What was unreasonable, says Griffin, were the officers that day in August 2006. He claims that Dymond Milburn went outside to fix a breaker switch located in a box on the side of the house when all of a sudden an unmarked van full of cops pulled up outside the home. Several officers jumped out and grabbed her, he says, claiming that she was a prostitute and trying to snatch her away. Milburn fought back, and during the altercation, she suffered black eyes and throat and ear-drum injuries, for which she was later hospitalized.
As it turned out, the officers were there that day because they were sent to the neighborhood to find three white prostitutes, a white man and a black drug dealer -- none of whom matched the description of the 12-year-old.
The officers claim that Dymond was the only female they saw on the block and that as soon as she saw them, she started to run away. They say that Dymond's family had a history of drug-related arrests and that their training taught them that drug dealers often hide their stash in electrical boxes. When they tried to talk to her and determine if she was a prostitute or drug dealer, Dymond resisted, resulting in a physical confrontation.
Griffin points out that no drugs were found in the breaker box and that the 12-year-old girl was perfectly innocent when she was allegedly attacked.
As for the mediation attempts, Griffin says the defense would not offer more than $30,000 to settle the case.
"It was ridiculous," says Griffin. "I just had to say 'No.' I think a jury is not going to appreciate this happening to a child. I just don't believe a jury in Harris County, Texas or anywhere is going to appreciate it if you're in your own yard doing nothing, for this to occur is just outrageous."
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.