Monday, June 27, 2016, 12:55 pm
Charges filed by the Greenwood Police Department against local activist and businessman Jelani Barr were abruptly dismissed by Municipal Court Judge Carlos Palmer.
There is no indication in the order of dismissal as to why the charges were summarily dismissed by Judge Palmer. Barr told The Taxpayers Channel that he went to court on Wednesday, June 15, for his first court date, and Judge Palmer said simply to him that he could leave.
The Judge's order dismissing the charges may be seen here: Judge's Dismissal of Charges
Barr's attorney was informed last week that the charges had been dismissed.
The Taxpayers Channel has obtained a copy of the court file, and the facts therein confirm that Barr was illegally arrested by long-time Greenwood police officer Lt. Perry Hines on May 29th, not for an actual crime, but in retaliation for exercising a core civil liberty protected by the Constitution.
This case marks the third time in 14 months that a Greenwood police officer has had Mr. Barr unlawfully arrested in retaliation for his exercise of clearly-protected constitutional rights.
A review of the affidavit filed by Lt. Hines corroborates Mr. Barr's statement to The Taxpayers Channel that he was arrested by Hines after Hines first tried to intimidate Barr from exercising his right to video the officers in the park on Sunday, May 29th.
The affidavit, the arrest warrant, and the police report filed by Hines may be viewed here: Court File for Greenwood v. Barr
Barr had been filming the police at work in the park, and had approached one of them to ask why traffic was being blocked. Lt. Hines told Barr that the Supreme Court had ruled that Barr didn't have the right to video the police in the performance of their duties. Hines swore in his affidavit that he was indeed instructing Barr regarding court rulings against videotaping the police.
That statement by Hines, made for the purpose of threatening Barr if he continued filming the police, was false. Citizens do have a right under the First Amendment to collect video evidence regarding police conduct in public places. The Supreme Court has not issued any opinions stripping citizens of those rights, as Hines falsely told Barr.
Barr informed Hines that his statements about Barr's rights were incorrect. Barr then walked away from Hines, and according to Hines, Barr told him "you dumb ass, get your facts straight."
Hines then arrested Barr and charged him with "public profanity" for uttering those words, in violation of black-letter law which has long held that citizens have a First Amendment right to rebuke police officers for their official misconduct. Supreme Court precedent, as well as rulings by the Mississippi high court, have long held that citizens may not be charged with "public profanity" for calling out police officers with language far stronger than Barr used in this case.
Arresting officer Hines retired from the force less than a week after the arrest incident took place.
At publication time, neither Mayor Carolyn McAdams nor Police Chief Ray Moore had responded to our Friday request for comment as to whether this illegal arrest incident had anything to do with Hines' retirement from the force, or whether an internal affairs investigation had been opened on the matter.
All three officers who have had Mr. Barr arrested during the past 14 months have either retired or been removed from the force within 60 days after their misconduct came to light.
John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel