Portland, OR — On Thursday, a 16-year-old boy, who was facing multiple criminal charges for allegedly assaulting a police officer, was found not guilty on all charges.
Circuit Judge Diana Stuart ruled that Thai Gurule, a Roosevelt High School sophomore, did not resist arrest. He also didn’t strangle and assault police officers as they had originally claimed.
Stuart’s strongly worded decision took more than 15 minutes to read aloud as she made sure to let the cops involved in the incident know they were in the wrong. She explained how the “melee of fists and punches and bodies falling upon him,” put Gurule at great risk of bodily harm.
The judge went on to voice her discontent with the dishonesty in the officers’ reports.
According to Oregonlive.com.
“Hornstein was not credible in several important instances,” the judge said.
Hornstein claimed Gurule was throwing punches throughout the encounter, but that was clearly not the case from viewing the videos, the judge said. The videos also didn’t show Gurule ever putting his arm around Hornstein’s neck or throat and strangling her, as Hornstein had testified.
“It is clear that when the youth’s arm came in contact with Officer Hornstein, his arm was around her shoulder … not in any kind of choke hold,” the judge said.
Prior to this trial starting, a local attorney, Stephen Houze offered to take Gurule’s case pro bono.
Houze told Oregon Live that most police officers work hard to protect the community, “but in this particular instance, what happened at the hands of several police officers was outrageous,” Houze said. “… One can only hope that (the judge’s words) sent an appropriate message to the individuals involved and perhaps the leadership of the Portland Police Bureau.”
The original incident happened in September of last year as Gurule, his 20-year-old brother, and a friend were walking home. The trio was unlawfully stopped by three Portland police officers claiming they “fit the description” of another group of “seven to nine, shirtless, African Americans” who were apparently throwing things and swearing.
Police stopped the group, even though all three were wearing shirts and Gurule and his brother had large Afros, Houze said. The “distinctive” hairstyle wasn’t listed as part of the description of the suspects, he said.
Luckily for Gurule, two different cell phones recorded the assault. The videos were dramatically different than the police reports, which Houze referred to as “works of fiction.”
You can read the police reports here.
One of the videos was published to Facebook, and you can watch it below.
“This is a 16-year-old child frightened by the circumstances he’s been confronted with, having done nothing wrong,” Houze said.
“We’re dealing not with a 30-year-old hardened criminal, someone you saw running from a bank robbery,” Houze continued. “… This is a kid walking down the street, minding his own business. And when they accosted him, it scared him.”
Gurule’s brother, Giovanni Gurule, can be heard at the beginning of one of the videos saying, “Can I ask you a question? What did my little brother do? He don’t do nothing. He plays football for Roosevelt, come on now. He don’t drink. He don’t smoke.”
While it is heartening news to see Gurule be acquitted of his charges, the opposite can be said about his brother Giovanni.
Giovanni Gurule went to trial in adult court in January for this incident and was found guilty of misdemeanor interfering with a police officer and resisting arrest. Judge Cheryl Albrecht sentenced him to 64 hours of community service and two years of probation.
Giovanni’s only “crime” was filming the assault of his acquitted brother by police. Now this otherwise innocent young man is “in the system” for the rest of his life.
And so the grimy and rusty bureaucratic gears of the American “justice” system roll on.