A jury in Ottawa Hills, Ohio has convicted Officer Thomas White of felonious assault in a trial where jurors watched a video of his shooting of Michael McCloskey, Jr. — an unarmed motorcyclist. The video is below.
White, 27, was charged with felonious assault with a firearms specification and was convicted after a jury deliberated for six hours. He now faces 11 years in prison.
McCloskey is paralyzed for life.
Two expert witnesses testified that White was justified in shooting the unarmed McCloskey. White himself testified and called this a “high risk vehicle stop” and that he considered it odd that McCloskey began to turn around while sitting on the motorcycle. Defense expert Columbus police Officer James Scanlon was even more forgiving and generous in his testimony. “I come to the conclusion that it was reasonable and, by all the standards we live by, it was justified.” He insisted that by fleeing the two motorcyclists gave White a reason to believe his life was in “imminent risk.” Urey Patrick, a retired FBI agent turned consultant, noted “one appeared to be out of control, the other suddenly stopped. They already indicated a willingness to flee. That’s an indicator that this is not a routine stop.” Notably, it was not clear that the motorcyclists knew White was behind them, but the experts insisted that it only mattered what White knew — not the men. Yet, that would allow an officer to gun down any fleeing suspect with any movement of the driver — a clear violation of Garner v. Tennessee.
The jury obviously rejected the testimony of those witnesses. Form the videotape, I fail to see the reasonable basis for the use of force. If these experts were correct, there would be tens of thousands of such justified shootings each year by officers.
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