Jury: Miami Cop Resisted Arrest
Apr. 03, 1998
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A black Miami-Dade police major who charged he was a victim of racial stereotyping was convicted today of resisting arrest by white deputies during a videotaped traffic stop.
Aaron Campbell was acquitted of the more serious charges of battery. He hugged well-wishers as he left the courtroom.
Earlier in the trial, the judge had agreed with Campbell's claim that he was stopped illegally because his race and his Dade license tag fit a profile that Orlando deputies use to stop drug suspects. Critics derisively call the purported crime ``driving while black.''
The highway encounter between the polo-shirt wearing, 27-year police veteran was taped by a patrol-car camera and later broadcast nationwide. During the weeklong trial, jurors attentively watched the 20-minute video three times.
Campbell, 55, cursed several times, grabbed his driver's license off a the deputy's clipboard and demanded to talk to a supervisor after he was stopped at night on Florida's Turnpike.
Orange County sheriff's deputies denied using racial profiles, but Circuit Judge Thomas Mihok concluded during trial that the stop was illegal. Two of six charges against Campbell were dropped, one of resisting arrest with violence and one of resisting arrest without violence.
The jury of a black man, a white woman and four white men was left to consider two counts of battery, a remaining count of resisting arrest with violence and one count of resisting arrest without violence.
In closing arguments earlier today, prosecutor April Douglas said Campbell was using race as a red herring to divert jurors' attention from his belligerent behavior.
``Race is not the issue in this. It never has been,'' she said. ``You were dealing with a man who wanted special treatment and didn't get it, and because he didn't get the special treatment he escalated the confrontation.''
Cpl. Richard Mankewich testified he stopped Campbell for changing lanes without signaling and because a license plate frame obscured part of his plate.
Defense attorney James Cheney Mason accused Mankewich of lying about the stop. Even if it wasn't racially motivated, Mason said, Campbell believed it was.
``He was pulled over for doing nothing wrong,'' Mason said.