Answer: when you're a juror having to defend a transgender woman of color, perhaps?
I have no idea what lay behind the 12th juror's insistence that Bridges McRae, who was caught on video beating an unarmed Duanna Johnson back in 2007, was innocent - but that lone juror's failure to declare McRae guilty of what he is clearly doing in the video forced the judge to declare a mistrial.
Not that it matters for Johnson: she was murdered in 2008. McRae was on trial for "violating her civil rights", which might be the correct legal term, but feels like a sick punchline to an already horrific story.
I have nothing intelligent to say about this story, because... really, what can one say? I'm posting this so that we can see it, and remember that this happens.
Testifying for the prosecution, James Swain said he watched officer Bridges "Sutton" McRae use his metal handcuffs like brass knuckles to punch the prisoner several times in the head in the sally port of the jail.For those of you who don't know this story, here's a news report from shortly after the incident, including the original surveillance video [warning - the video shows some pretty rough violence]:
"McRae kept hitting Johnson multiple times in the head," said Swain, a probationary officer released by the department. "Johnson was bleeding profusely from the head. It was a beatdown. It never should have happened. ... (McRae) walked by and said 'I love to fight.' He was very aggressive and had his chest puffed out. I was speechless."
But despite the prosecution testimony of five "eyewitnesses" and the incessant replay of the Shelby County Jail surveillance tape capturing the incident, the jury of 5 men and 7 women, when verbally polled in the courtroom by Judge Anderson, all agreed reaching a unanimous verdict would never happen.Like a perverse inversion of Twelve Angry Men, it all came down to a single juror. No consensus: mistrial.
The prosecutors may try again. In the meantime, a smug McRae is "relying on God to give me strength and give me peace."
I don't know what to say about this story, other than: this happens.
I'm not sure this story will get a lot of attention. Violence like this isn't as compulsively bloggable as meta-debates about strategies for repealing the gay military ban, and even in the LGBT community we can be enormously tunnel-visioned when it comes to issues affecting transgender men and women. I don't mean that in an accusatory tone: just to note that, again, this happens.