Denison, TX — The Free Thought Project has reported on, quite literally, thousands of instances of police officers hurting or killing citizens, many of them entirely innocent. In the overwhelming majority of the cases, the officers are not charged with a crime and most of those keep their jobs. If those roles are reversed, however, and a citizen dares fight against a police officer, that citizen will face punishment every single time. A Texas man learned this the hard way this week after being sentenced to 99 years in prison for kicking a cop.
The incident happened in April of this year when Donnie Mills, 59, was allegedly speeding down Highway 91 in Denison, Texas. Denison police officer Chris Bell pulled Mills over and claimed to smell alcohol on his breath. According to Bell, Mills admitted to drinking earlier in the day.
Despite admitting to drinking, Mills was not immediately brought to jail. Instead, he was taken to a local hospital to have his blood forcibly drawn from him to determine how drunk he was.
While Mills was being dragged through the hospital, he became agitated and told officer Bell that he was going to "put him on the ground" and "f**k you." Mills was in handcuffs the entire time, so there was no real threat.
As Mills was being loaded onto a gurney, however, barefoot and angry, he swung his leg out at Bell and reportedly kicked him in the face. Since Mills was laying down, intoxicated, had his hands cuffed behind his back, and was barefoot, the kick was little more than a light shove. In fact, officer Bell was not seriously injured and required no medical attention.
As the video showed, the kick didn't even deter Bell from continuing to strap the drunk man to the gurney. Nevertheless, Mills was charged with DUI and assault on a police officer.
This week, the court handed down an unprecedented sentence of nearly a century behind bars. As Mills is already 59, this means he will spend the rest of his life in prison for kicking officer Bell that night.
Yes, we agree that kicking someone is assault. Yes, we also agree that Mills should be held accountable for kicking the officer. But sentencing a man to 99 years in jail for kicking a cop so lightly that he didn't even need medical attention is utterly insane.
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The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
A 99 year sentence for kicking a police officer while having your blood forcibly drawn is for all intents and purposes a "cruel and unusual punishment."
To justify this insanity, however, the District Attorney brought up Mills' past which dates back decades.
"He has a 40-year criminal history going back starting in 1979 with his first DWI, and he has been to the penitentiary for five different felonies," said Assistant District Attorney Don Hoover.
Oddly enough, the jury — apparently blinded by the thin blue line — agreed, and they think that lightly tapping your foot to a cop's face is worthy of a century behind bars.
"The Grayson County jury, the citizens of Grayson County have a zero-tolerance for violence on peace officers. I think that's a loud and clear message. This defendant will have the rest of his life to think about his actions," said Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith.
We here at the Free Thought Project don't believe in applying special privilege to someone based on their occupation. The fact that the jury was okay with a 99 year sentence because the person who was kicked is a cop is disheartening, to say the least.
It is especially discouraging when we look at the case of Jeremy Mardis, a 6-year-old boy who was murdered on video by officer Norris Greenhouse Jr. in 2015. After being convicted in the murder of a child, Greenhouse servedless than two years in jail. When a man receives a sentence 50 times harsher for kicking a cop versus a cop killing an innocent 6-year-old child, it may be time to re-calibrate this country's moral compass.