The DA and the APD's worst case of unfairness and injustice is that of no action against Officer Michael Middleton. Officer Middleton brutally attacked Eddie Bridges so forcefully that he knocked his eye out of the socket. Bridges died two months later after the senseless beating. Bridges did not violate any law. He merely came out of a store with some juice in a paper bag. Middleton violated his own department's rules when jumped on Bridges without calling for back up. "Eddie Bridges vicious beating by Officer Middleton contributed to his death," says a civil rights representative. Officer Middleton continues to work on the force.
Middleton's freedom is a result of DA Cooper's
office lack of fair presentation of the case brought against Middleton.
Middleton has been freed of all charges for the brutal beating. The NAACP and
the PJP will request an independent review of the Eddie Bridges case by the U S
Justice's Civil Rights Division Officer Middleton was not indicted in the last
grand jury session in Sumter County. The two organizations hold DA Cooper
responsible for the Middleton's continued presence on the police force.
The civil rights representatives compared the presentation of DA Cooper's office with the outcome of the vicious beating of Eddie Bridges by Officer Middleton with Craig Walker spanking his niece-a spanking requested by his twin sister while in her presence-that resulted in a quick grand jury indictment of Walker two months after the incident. Walker was the vice president of the Sumter County NAACP when Americus policeman Alfonso Ross trumped charges that Walker committed a child felony abuse in the first degree by spanking his niece. Furthermore, Walker's niece did not have to visit the emergency room or a doctor for the spanking.
Officer Middleton walked away without being indicted for a gruesome beating of Eddie Bridges but Craig Walker was indicted for spanking his niece while her mother was present and gave approval. Selective prosecution appears to be a tactic of DA Cecilia Cooper when it comes to dealing with a Black citizen. Simply stated, DA Cooper lacks fair treatment when she applies the rule of law with Black and Caucasian citizens in Sumter County.
Another example of DA Cooper's selective prosecution is the case where an Indian store owner on North Jackson Street in Americus, GA right across from Dr Fleming Burroughs' medical office. The store owner beat a black child for allegedly stealing candy in his store. The beating sent the child to the local emergency room for bruises and trauma to his head, arms, and legs. For several weeks after the beating, the child could not hear out of the left ear. An NAACP representative had to accompany the child's family to the Americus police station and demand that the store owner be charged with felony assault on this child. He was charged.
Again, Craig Walker's spanking arrest is no comparison with that of the Indian store owner's beating but the outcome was obviously different. The Americus police department issued a warrant for the store owner's arrest, but the owner paid his bond and avoided jail. Craig Walker's lawyers called Judge Shirley Duke to avoid jail but she never returned the lawyers call. Craig spent one night in jail. As of this news printing, the store owner has not been indicted for his beating of the Black child. We were informed that the Indian store owner has left Sumter County. DA Cooper has apparently put this case on her special back burner since it has been eleven months since the beating occurred. The two organizations have concluded that the shameless racial discrimination of Blacks by DA Cooper warrants speedy notice of these disparities to the US Justice's Civil Rights Division.
Selective prosecution, which is a very serious violation of the rule of law, is practiced at our Americus Police Department. The NAACP asked Chief James Green for the official charges against Officer Middleton and the charges against the victim Eddie Bridges. The civil rights groups have not received the charges yet. Why wouldn't the Americus Police Department release the 'official charge' for a heinous crime as that beating by Officer Middleton. Eddie Bridges is dead and Officer Middleton is back working on the Americus police force.
If that is not enough, the Americus City Attorney, Jimmy Skipper and the police department protected former police Chief Michael Yates by not pressing charges against him. Records showed that Yates performed an illegal criminal background check on Craig Walker. This action was largely seen as an intimidation tactic of Yates to silence Walker, who at the time, was a vocal critic of Yates and had demanded Yates' removal. The background check was illegal because there was not an ongoing investigation of Walker at the time. An illegal criminal background check ----in this case on Walker---- is a criminal offense according to GA Law. At a minimum Yates should have been charged or fired immediately for his actions. Also there is a $5,000 fine and a two-year prison sentence for this offense. [See the front page article on Michael Yates in this edition] The Americus Police Department really closed its eyes on Yates' criminal behavior. Even Americus City Attorney Jimmy Skipper is implicated in a cover up of Yates' criminal investigation of Craig Walker. Skipper maintains that Yates followed the procedures correctly when he did the criminal background check on Walker. What Attorney Skipper failed to disclose was that Yates did not have a valid reason to do a criminal background check in the first place. The civil rights groups are asking the Justice Department to investigate attorney Skipper because he willfully covered up the criminal actions of the Americus police chief.
Selective prosecution or lack thereof has been widely practiced by those who are sworn to protect our citizens under the rule of law. Black citizens have been the recipients of selective prosecution and have suffered because District Attorney Cooper, the Americus Police Department, and City Attorney Jimmy Skipper have worked almost in concert to show favoritism toward certain Caucasians. These three who are entrusted with administering justice should do so in a color blind fashion and apply the law fairly. To operate otherwise is in itself a criminal offense.
The NAACP and the Prison and Jail Project of
Sumter County have seen enough blatant acts of racial discrimination in the
cases stated above and are filing a formal complaint to the U S Justice
Department Civil Rights Division to have them investigate these unresolved civil
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