Friday, October 10, 2008

Not Guilty! District Court verdict clears Luis De la Rosa of any wrongdoing in America's Pub incident

In September of 2007, the Wichita Branch NAACP filed a formal complaint with the USDOJ over the arrest of a Luis De laRosa and Adrianna Molina outside of a popular Old Town Night Club named "America's Pub". The arrests came during a period when Wichita Police Officers were cracking down on crowds and disturbances at clubs throughout the city.

Mr. De laRosa alleged that he had been sitting outside the club talking on his cell phone, calling for a friend to give him a ride home when an officer approached and shined a flashlight in his eyes. He said that when he instinctively shielded his eyes from the light, the officer told him, "Don't put your hands on an officer." The officer then threw De la Rosa to the ground and knelt on top of him.

De la Rosa said he was unable to comply with the officer's demand that he place his hands behind his back because the weight of the Officer on his back had pinned his arm underneath his body. After repeatedly yelling to the officers that his arm was stuck underneath his body and he couldn't put it behind his back, the officer on top of him told a second officer to use a Taser. After being tasered, Mr. De laRosa pulled him arm out from beneath his body; scraping away skin from his arm and hand in the process. During the incident, De la Rosa said, he kept thinking, "Man, are you serious about this?... I didn't know what was going on." Luis De la Rosa was booked and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.

After conducting interviews with the complainants and witnesses, we found Mr. De laRosa's complaint to have merit and referred him to a local Civil Rights Attorney. We also filed formal complaints with the USDOJ asking that they look into citizen allegations of excessive force and heavy-handed policing within minority communities. Any WPD internal investigation of possible police misconduct was precluded until the charges against Mr. De laRosa were adjudicated.

Yesterday afternoon, a jury found Mr. De laRosa Not Guilty on all charges. The jury affirmed that Mr. De laRosa was NOT loitering, he had NOT battered a law enforcement officer, he had NOT been resisting arrest, and he was NOT the cause of any disturbance. He had simply gone to a popular nightclub, and afterwards sat outside while calling a friend for a ride home. He ended up being tasered and arrested; and with scrapes and abrasions to his head, arm, and hand. The Jury verdict now clears the way for a full investigation into the actions of the arresting officers.

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