It would appear that Heather Ellis wasn't so confident of her innocence after all, after seeing the evidence presented at trial. While the jury was deliberating, Heather Ellis took a plea deal:
The prosecution agreed to drop two felony counts of assault on a law enforcement officer through the plea deal, while Ellis agreed to a plea of guilt regarding the two misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.
The terms of the deal include the sentence that Ellis must serve one year of unsupervised probation, attend at least two hours of anger management classes and serve four days in the Dunklin County Jail, which Judge Joe Satterfield referred to as "Shock Detention."
The big news this week in St. Louis (h/t: Lucianne) is the Heather Ellis case, which evokes the memory of the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. debacle earlier this year. In this case, Ellis went on trial this week (day two coverage, day three coverage) for a January, 2007, incident that began with Ellis line-jumping at a Wal-Mar and ended with her disturbing peace, resisting arrest, and assaulting two police officers.
Of course, the liberal media and race-baiters are positioning Ellis' case as one in which she is facing 15 years in prison for "cutting in line". After a news blackout of two and a half years (until the NAACP got involved), the story suddenly became newsworthy, as Ellis alleged that her treatment at the hands of the Kennett Police was racially motivated.
So what happened? Details of the account vary according to the source (see any of the several blog posts regarding the situation), but some details appear to be undisputed: Ellis switched check-out lanes, cutting to the front of the line to which she switched. This line-cutting resulted in a dispute between Ellis and the other patrons in line. The store manager was called, and asked Ellis to leave. Ellis refused, and the store security guard (a Kennett Police Officer) called for police assistance. The police arrived, and instructed Ellis to leave the premises. Ellis continued to act belligerently, and after being warned, was placed under arrest for disturbing the peace and trespassing. Ellis resisted arrest, and in the process kicked one police officer and punched another in the mouth. As a result, a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest and two counts of felony assault of a police officer were added to four counts of disturbing the peace and one count of trespassing.
Ellis' father, Nathaniel Ellis, explains Ellis' side of the story:
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you explain the two very different versions of what happened that day? Your daughter`s and the cops`?
ELLIS: Well, actually, it`s a lie being told. My daughter was sent there to get a few items for my wife. The actual arrest said that she was cursing. She knowingly disturbed the peace of Kay McDaniel (ph), who was the night manager. It was not about an issue of cutting in line.
First of all, my daughter is not known to be a curser. And previously, she had accepted Christ as her savior, and she had been raised in a Christian home and that`s simply not true.
And also, if they would release the tape from Wal-Mart, it would clear up the whole matter.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...It`s not like -- neither of these cases, somebody went out and tried to do something wrong like steal. In your daughter`s case, the NAACP has gotten involved. Do you think there`s racism here?
ELLIS: I know there`s racism. It is blatant, overt racism.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. What are you going to do about it? Apparently, you were offered a plea deal, and your daughter decided not to accept it.
ELLIS: She decided not to sign, because she was told never admit guilt when you are innocent. We plan to fight it, as we have. The NAACP has been involved. The SCOC and ACLU, and we`re marching on.
Thus, her defense is, in other words: it's all a lie. The cops are racist. She couldn't have done what they said, because she's a Christian. The left have taken this theme and run with it - particularly the racism angle. The NAACP, ACLU, and Al Sharpton are all getting involved, and they're marching and demonstrating.
And here is is Ellis' account of the events that transpired:
It was near closing time when Ellis and her cousin David got on line to check out at the Kennett Wal Mart. There were two checkout lanes open. Ellis got on one line, David on the other. When David’s line moved quicker, Ellis claims she moved over and joined him...
At least two white customers reportedly objected to Ellis joining David on line. One, according to Ellis, pushed and verbally accosted her. An off-duty Kennett Police officer working as a Wal Mart security guard came over to the line. Ellis claims she told the cashier to go ahead and ring the upset customer out ahead of her. By Ellis’s account however, the cashier, after ringing the upset customer out, refused to ring Ellis out, instead proceeding to ring other customers out. The Wal Mart shift manager walked over and told Ellis to leave the store. By all accounts she refused to leave and demanded to be rung out like the other customers, hence she was charged with trespassing. Ellis subsequently wrote, “I felt like I was part of the civil rights movement — I thought I had traveled in a time capsule and was living in Mississippi in the 1960s.” The guard radioed his fellow police officers. David telephoned his mother. Police and relatives were now en-route to the stand-off.
The police arrived and Ellis was allowed to pay for her goods. According to Ellis, however, the cashier refused to give her the change she was due. The arresting officer claims that the Wal Mart shift manager demanded Ellis be removed from the store, but that Ellis told him, “I’m not going nowhere until I get my f***ing change back.” Ellis denies the language the arrest report attributes to her, but both she and the police are in agreement that Wal-Mart was withholding her change...
In her statement, Ellis wrote that she was hopeful the officers would give her “a little support” with her demand for her change. She added that “they didn’t provide any...”
Once outside of the store, according to Ellis’s subsequent complaint, five Kennett police officers proceeded to torment her with racist and misogynist slurs as she and David walked to their car. Ellis claims that while still walking to her car, she suggested to the police that they instead harass “drug dealers and crack heads,” rather than “taxpaying citizens.” ...As her aunt arrived by car, the officers arrested Ellis — quite violently, by her account, lifting her off the ground and tossing her into a police car as her aunt helplessly stood by and watched while herself allegedly being threatened with arrest. Heather’s mother arrived at the police station in time to witness what she describes as her daughter being pulled out of the car by her hair and slammed against a wall...
Others are straining the narrative to the breaking point. Race-Baiter Boyce Watkins attempts to cast aspersions on the police report (which includes sworn testimonies of two police officers, the store manager, and five store customers) by appealing to the alleged lack of credibility of the justice system as a whole, and likewise tries to cast aspersions on the allegedly racist town of Kennett, MO, by mentioning a racial attack on a black boy in "the same area", in "nearby" Poplar Bluff. In reality, Poplar Bluff is 50 miles away from Kennett - or, roughly the distance between Baltimore, MD, and Alexandria, VA; Cincinnati, OH, and Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN, and Greensburg, IN; or Evanston, IL, and Kenosha, WI.
In other words, what happens in Poplar Bluff really has no bearing whatsoever on what happens in Kennett. But the race-baiters in the Heather Ellis case would lead you to believe otherwise.
According to the police report, the following summarizes the written and signed statements of the witnesses:
According to statements made and obtained - On Saturday - January 6th, 2007 - Heather Ellis - was and had been a customer at the Wal-Mart store. Heatehr Ellis apparently collected some items of merchandise, and Heather Ellis then went to check-out aisle #13 at the front of the store. Instead of waiting in line behind the other waiting customers, Heather Ellis - broke in line - as she walked to the front of the line, to the cash register attendant, apparently because she did not want to wait in line.
The cash register attendant had already began checking out the next in line customer. The cash register attendant had activated the conveyer belt in order to advance the merchandise of the next in line customer, to be scanned and checked out. Heather Ellis reported became angry because of this, and Heather Ellis reportedly began shoving the merchandise back down the conveyer belt. Witnesses and Victimes tated that, Heather Ellis became very belligerent by yelling, cursing, issuing threats, and issuing many deerogatory comments to several of the persons present. Reportedly, Heather Ellis at one point attempted to advance toward the attendant and store assistand manager in a very hostile and aggressive manner. Management of the Wal-mart store gave numerous verbal communications to heather Ellis to leave the store and the property. Heather Ellis refused to leave after being told several time [sic] to do so.
Apparently, since Heather Ellis was out of control, and since Heather Ellis refused to leave the business and property, the Kennett Police Department was contacted by on-duty security officer - Officer Craig Moody [DSN: 931], of the Kennett Police Department.
And here is the officer's account of what happened when Moody called for police assistance:
On - Saturday - January 6th, 2007 - at approximately 23:30 hours, Officers of the Kennett Polie Department received a radio communication from Officer Craig Moody [DSN: 931] of the Kennett Police Department. Officer Craig Moody was requesting the assistance of other Police Officers. Officer Craig Moody requested that additional Police Officers respond to the business of Wal-Mart, which is located at 1500 First Street. This request for assistance was in reference to, and due to an unruly and belligerent customer.
Kennett Police Officers; A.W. Fisher [DSN: 920], Joe D. Stewart [DSN 943], Allen Campbell [DSN: 942], arrived at Wal-Mart at the same time.
Upon our arrival, all Officers entered into the business. As I, Officer A. W. fisher entered into the business, I could immediately hear the voice of a female, that was taling loudly. I could hear the female yelling, and cursing. It was easy to determine who the person was, that was causing the disturbance. I also saw Officer Craig Moody standing by check-out [cash register] aisle number 13. Officer Moody summoned all Officer's [sic] to come to his location.
As I arrived at teh check-out [cash register] number 13, I was immediately informed by - Kay McDaniel [On-duty Assistant Manager for Wal-Mart], that she wanted the black female that was yelling and cursing, to be removed, and escorted from the store, and off the property. I then informed the black female that, she had to leave the store and the property immediately, and cease causing any further disturbances. The black female turned and yelled, "I ain't going no where until I get my [ed: expletive] change back". So I stood by while the cashier attendant handed the belligerent female her change.
NOTE : The black female, which was causing the distrubance and was eventually placed under arrest, was subsequently identified as - Heather R. Ellis.
Heather Ellis continued to act in a very belligerent, angry, hostile, and aggressive manner. Heather Ellis refused to comply with my repeated requests to calm down, and cease causing a scene and distrubance. Heather Ellis then turned her anger and aggression toward me [Officer Fisher], and all other Police Officers which were present. Heatehr Ellis then began yelling, and cursing, and issuing derogatory comments toward this officer. She then took her purchased items, which were in bags, and she began walking toward one of the exits of the building. However, Heather Ellis continued to yell, curse, and issue verbal insults toward this Officer. Heather Ellis would walk a little way, and then she would again turn and continue to yell, curse, and issue more insults. Heather Ellis continued to refuse to comply with all repeated requests to just calm down, and stop continuing to cause a scene, and disturbance. I tried to convey to Heatehr Ellis [as best I could], that all she had to do was leave peacefully. However, it was incredibly and abundantly obvious that Heather Ellis had absolutely no desire and/or intention of conmplying with any and all request [sic] by this Officer. Any and all attempts to convey logic to Heather ellis were unsuccessful.
Heather Ellis would not simply leave the property. She continued to be belligerent, angry, loud, hostile and aggressive throughout the front of the store. Due to the way that Heather Ellis was conducting herself, she [heather Ellis] was obviously disrupting the business of this store. I kept trying to calm Heatehr Ellis, and I was trying to convey simple and basic logic to her, that all she had to do was just simply leave the store in a calm and peaceful manner. Heather Ellis was obviously not receptive to these simple requests, and she told me about it in the same loud and belligerent manner in which she had been conducting herself.
I, Officer, A. W. Fisher, then informed Heather Ellis that, if she did not cease causing a scene and distrubance, and if she did not simply leave the property, that she would then be placed under arrest. After issuing this final request, Heather Ellis [again] turned toward this Officer and she [again] continued to yell, curse, and refuse to leave the property. She then issued a threat to assault me [officer Fisher] by saying that if I even tried to put my hands on her and if I tried to arrest her, she was going to "beat my ass".
Heather Ellis was given every opportunity to comply with the Officers [sic] repeated requests for her to simply leave the property of the business of Wal-Mart.
Once it became abundantly, and obviously clear that heather Ellis had absolutely no desire and/or intentions of complying with all of my repeated requests, I then informed Heather Ellis that she was now under arrest. I then grasped the right arm sleeve of her black leather jacket, and I was attempting to deploy my handcuffs, in order to place Heather Ellis under arrest. Immediately, when I grasped her right arm sleeve, Heather Ellis immediately became combative, and began fighting this Officer. Heather Ellis began swinging wildly toward this Officer with her arms and fist. Heather Ellis refused to comply with all requests for her to stop fighting, and stop resisting arrest. heather Ellis continued to fight, yell, and curse. Heather Ellis was completely out of control.
Sgt. Joe D. Stewart, and Officer Phillip Caldwell, then came to assist me [Officer Fisher] with this arrest, as i was having to fight and struggle with Heather Ellis. All three officers continued to have to struggle with Heather Ellis. Heather Ellis still wouldn ot comply with all of this Officers [sic] request for her to stop fighting and stop resiting arrest.
Heather Ellis would continue to resist arrest by stiffening her body, arms, and legs in an attempt to prevent the arresting Officers from placing the handcuffs on her, and placing her under arrest. Then, Heather Ellis would [again] swing her arms and fist, and kick her feet in an attempt to prevent being arrested, or attempting to break free and flee from the grasp of the Officers. At one point during the struggle with Heather Ellis, she [Heather Ellis] kicked me [Officer Fisher], and she [heather Ellis] struck Sgt. Joe D. Stewart in the mouth. During the entire struggle with Heather Ellis, the Officers issued repeated requests for her to stop fighting, and stop resisting arrest.
Finally, the Police Offices were finally able to place the hands of Heather Ellis behind her back, and then we were able to place the handcuffs on the wrists of Heather Ellis.
However, as were wre trying to walk her to, and place her in the back seat of the patrol car, heather ellis would continue her efforts to resist by refusing to walkforward. heather Ellis would [again] stiffen her legs and body, and she would [again] refuse to comly with the Officers [sic] requests to walk to the patrol car. Officers had to actually make Heather Ellis walk forward, so that we could finally place her into the backseat of the patrol car. Heather Ellis would continue to yell, curse, issue verbal threats, and issue her derogatory commenhts. Heather Ellis continued to act in the same belligerent, hostile, and aggressive manners.
Heather Ellis was then transported to the Dunklin County Jail, where she was processed, booked and incarcerated.
Later in the shift, the Kennett Police Department received a call from the Dunklin County Sheriff's Office, informing us that, Heather Ellis was demanding medical treatment. Heather Ellis was then released from custody, so that she could go and seek whatever medical attention she desired.
I have not found any medical records to have been released, either of the two officers that Ellis allegedly assaulted, or of Ellis, who was released from custody to seek medical treatment, though now-recused prosecutor Stephen P. Sokoloff offers the following information in a response to the above Ellis account:
Further despite your report that ther were no injured victims, one officer sustained a split lip from a punch thrown by the "innocent" Ms. Ellis and another a bruised shin where she kicked him. Furhter, the E.R. records of Ms. Ellis' visit show no visible injuries...
Of course, the jury will try the case and will determine the outcome. But let us think critically for a moment.
What is more likely:
- Heather Ellis cut in line, acting belligerently as she shoved multiple customers' merchandise out of the way in an attempt to have her items checked out. The customers behind her complained, which prompted the cashier to summon the manager. The cashier continued to check-out the customers in line, refusing to check-out Ellis' merchandise, while awaiting the arrival of the manager, which further angered Ellis. The manager, upon arrival and seeing a belligerent Ellis and a line of customers upset at her line-cutting, asked Ellis to leave. Ellis angrily refused and berated the manager, cashier, and customers, which prompted the security guard to request police assistance. The police arrived, oversaw Ellis' merchandise being checked-out, and then told her that the manager asked her to leave, therefore she needed to leave or would be considered to be trespassing. Ellis, already angry, continued to berate not only the manager, cashier, and customers, but also the police. The police attempted to calm Ellis and request that she leave the store in peace. After several attempts, the police inform Ellis that if she does not comply, she will be placed under arrest for trespassing and disturbing the peace. Ellis threatens the cop, and continues to shout and curse. The officers inform Ellis that she is under arrest, and Ellis angrily resists, kicking one officer and punching another. Once handcuffed, Ellis continues to resist, forcing the officers to physically move her to the police car and into the backseat. Or:
- Ellis moved from one line into another, fully expecting that the customers already in line would have no problem with her doing so. The customer behind her bagan pushing and shoving her, and the customers in line started issuing racial slurs at her. The cashier refused to help Ellis, and instead called the manager, who demanded that she leave and also issued racial slurs at her. The manager called the police, who also racially insulted Ellis, demanded that she leave, and then jumped her once she was outside the store. The police then roughed her up as the put her in the police car, and then threw her up against the wall when they got her to the police station.
For those keeping track at home: the first scenario has no less than eight unrelated witnesses, and the second scenario has up to two of Ellis' family members each of whom potentially witnessed different parts of the scenario.
Testimony concluded in the trial today, during which time Ellis took the stand. The trial today included this little gem:
Blackmun said she arrived in the parking lot at about the time officers began using force on Ellis. Ellis said Kennett officer Albert Fisher grabbed her by the back of the shoulder with such force that he ripped her leather jacket and swung her around. Other officers became involved and forced Ellis against the squad car, she said.
She was taken to jail and released early the next morning.
Once released, she went to a hospital emergency room. Dr. Benjamin Mozie testified that Ellis told him she had been assaulted and complained of neck pain, wrist injuries and a headache.
Defense attorney Scott Rosenblum presented evidence that had been discovered only Friday morning, when Ellis saw the leather jacket for the first time since the incident. Inside one pocket were documents from police and the hospital. Both, Rosenblum said, had blood stains from injuries to Ellis' wrist or hand.
Under questioning from prosecutor Morley Swingle, Mozie said he saw no evidence of any injury that would lead to bleeding. He also saw no outward signs of neck injury, but said Ellis' wrists were bruised.
Imagine that! Ellis hadn't touched her leather jacket in three years! Even though she now claims that it was ripped in the assault. Never mind that said jacket, if allegedly ripped in the assault, would have been the defense's Exhibit A as evidence of the allegedly rough treatment Ellis received.
(By the way, I wonder if forensic analysis could conclusively determine how long ago the jacket was ripped, and whether or not a human hand could have caused the damage?)
And - wouldn't you know it? - only just today, Ellis "discovered" that inside the jacket pocket were documents that were "bloodied" from Ellis' injuries. Glory be!
Unfortunately, the ER doctor who treated Ellis that night said that he saw no evidence of any injury that would lead to bleeding.
Quite the conundrum, really.
Read through the testimony. The defense has presented zero evidence that the police assaulted Ellis. The defense has presented zero evidence that the prosecuting attorney, four police officers, the store manager, the cashier, and four customers all are racist, and have conspired against Ellis.
The defense's entire strategy appears to be trying to prove that Ellis' cousin was "saving her spot" in line, appealing to the witnesses' clouded memories (nearly three years after the incident), and implying that their testimony was tampered with by Sokoloff.
I think the evidence speaks for itself, and clearly. By now the trial has likely gone to jury, so we will hear the outcome soon enough.