Civil Liberties

Dymond Milburn Update

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A few updates on Dymond Milburn, the Galveston, Texas girl I posted about last week. Milburn and her family are suing the Galveston Police Department.  They allege that two years ago, several plain-clothes officers jumped out of a van, accosted her in her yard, and assaulted and beat her during a raid in which they mistook her for a prostitute.  She was 12 at the time.  Three weeks later, the police then arrested Milburn at her school in front of her classmates, and charged her with assaulting the police officers who were wrongfully arresting her.  Her father has also been charged with assault.

The updates:

• There's been some chatter on various blogs and message boards that the story may be a hoax. While I'm sure the police account of the incidents differs from that of Milburn, her family, and her attorney, the lawsuit itself is real. Here's a copy (pdf) of the complaint. And here's a record of the filing in federal court.

• The Galveston Daily News picked up the story this morning. They're reporting that Galveston police and the district attorney's office can't comment on the case because Milburn is a juvenile.  Neither office has returned my calls, either. The attorney for the officers Milburn is suing did give the following statement to the Houston Press:

"The father basically attacked police officers as they were trying to take the daughter into custody after she ran off."

"The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances.  It's unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them. And the evidence will show that both these folks violated the law and forcefully resisted arrest."

As far as I can tell, Texas does appear to allow for a citizen to resist an unlawful arrest if the arrest meets certain conditions:

Texas Penal Code Chapter 9, Subchapter C, Section 9.31, Subsection C:

(c) The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified: (1) if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search; and (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer's (or other person's) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary. 

Even setting aside the severe beating Milburn's lawsuit says she received at the hands of the police (which is presumably backed by records from the hospital she was admitted to later that night), you're left with several plain-clothes police officers jumping out of an unmarked van, calling a 12-year-old girl a prostitute, then attempting to snatch her from her own front yard. I would think that those actions alone would satisfy the "greater force than necessary" portion of the statute.

• It looks like one of the officers named in Mlburn's lawsuit, Officer Sean Stewart, was named a Galveston PD "Officer of the Year" last June.  See page five, here (pdf).

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  1. I wish them well in their lawsuit. But a big win will only mean a big debt for the good people of Galveston. The cops involved in this, and especially their bosses, need felony convictions.

  2. “The father basically attacked police officers as they were trying to take the daughter into custody after she ran off.”

    Using the word “basically” as a modifier here means that the father did something other than attack police, but the lawyer is going to spin the facts to make it look like he did. Otherwise, he would just say that the father attacked the police.

  3. He got the cop of the year award, eh?

    I guess all the other officers had hospitalized more than one 12-year-old girl.

  4. Damn you CN!

    I think they hand out awards like candy at Halloween. Neither something to be impressed by or appalled at.

  5. It looks like one of the officers named in Mlburn’s lawsuit, Officer Sean Stewart, was named a Galveston PD “Officer of the Year” last June.

    “You’re doing a heckuva job, Stewie.”

  6. Officer Sean Stewart, was named a Galveston PD “Officer of the Year” last June

    It was probably a nod to his literary career.

  7. Five words: “I thought they were terrorists.”

    After seven years of paranoid conditioning, how has this not become a common defense?

  8. Jeff P,

    That would be because it doesn’t matter if YOU or I are in fear for our lives. We’re expected to lay down and die by law. Only cops can use that excuse now.

  9. I really deteste that these assholes are lumped in with the folks who actually served their country and died in the 9-11 attacks. They seem to be abusing the sentiment that the public developed that everyone in their profesison are heros – a sure sign of being the lowest of the low.

  10. *detest (damn French spellings)

  11. “It was probably a nod to his literary career.”

    Sean Stewart the police officer has a much better tan than Sean Stewart the writer.

  12. Police: “You’re a prostitute!!”

    Girl: “So?”

  13. Looks like the Galveston Police Department is deploying the “Trust us” defense.

    Before You Start Piling On The Cops, THINK

    We at The Police News, want our readers to know that there is another side to this case. It DID NOT happen as alleged in the lawsuit and all the facts will be known when this litigation is settled, and it will be. We know the officers involved personally and we are confident they DID NOT use excessive and/or unlawful force when dealing with the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. These officers have children of their own, they DO NOT beat up kids, and when all is said and done, you will know this as we do, and we are privy to some of the particulars of the event that are not public record.
    Would be nice if they shared those particulars.

  14. Sage-

    At least Brownie was not accused of beating up 12 year old prostitutes.

  15. a cop that writes magical realism?

    can we stop the pk dick merry go round? i’m feeling a bit queasy.

  16. My prediction,

    All of the cops who were present at the scene will have remarkably consistent memories of the obviously chaotic situation.

    After all, they’ve had tplenty of time to get their stories* straight.

    * in the fictional sense of the word.

  17. Paul,

    They can’t share those particulars yet. They’re still in the process of making them up and memorizing them.

  18. I wish them well in their lawsuit. But a big win will only mean a big debt for the good people of Galveston. The cops involved in this, and especially their bosses, need felony convictions.

    It’s such a shame that the father didn’t run outside with a shotgun. Given the situation that the police created, most juries in Texas would have probably let him off if he’d shot all three cops dead on the grounds that “they acted like no good varmints out to rape my child.”

  19. This is what the right to bear arms was written for. I wish Mr. Milburn had had a clean shot at those vicious thugs.

  20. It says a lot about the prevailing mindset in departments like Galveston’s that the unit commander didn’t throw a chair at these men for being told to go after 3 white female prostitutes and a white man buying drugs from a black man, and they came back with a beaten up 12 year old black girl who was obviously supposed to be at the residential location where they found her. Hunters euthanize dogs for less incompetence than that.

  21. I really deteste the balls these motherfuckers have; I can’t wait to hear their honest, rational description of the alleged events that took place.

  22. I can’t wait to hear their honest, rational description of the alleged events that took place.

    An honest explanatiopn of what occurred at the Millburn home will not be provided by the cops who were on scene. I’m 99.9973% certain of that. Circle the wagons and lie like a rug seems to be the LEO MO in these types of cases.

  23. It DID NOT happen as alleged in the lawsuit and all the facts will be known when this litigation is settled

    I’m betting that when the case is settled (far from the prying eyes of the public), all the records will be sealed, and the facts will NEVER ne known.

    I’m also betting none of the police officers involved will be fired, demoted, or scolded.

  24. I’m also betting none of the police officers involved will be fired, demoted, or scolded.

    I’m not taking that bet.

  25. We are only getting one side of the story here. We have no idea if what the lawsuit says happened resembles in any way, shape, or form, what actually happened, since the cops are apparently under a near-total gag order due to the case involving a juvenile. The father did plead guilty to cocaine possession and got a two year jail sentence immediately after the incident (although that doesn’t mean that his side of the story is false, either).

  26. “We are only getting one side of the story here.”

    Even viewed in the light most favorable to the police, it’s still pretty bad.

  27. Plain clothes officers jumping out of an unmarked van and accosting a twelve-year-old who does not in any way match the description of their suspect?

    Even if they were *perfect gentlemen* they’d still be royal and unpardonable fuck-ups, given that fact pattern.

  28. Here’s my only question? What kind of police department, a full 7 days after realizing the horrendously large mistake it made in attempting to forcibly detain and arrest a totally innocent 12-year-old girl, compounds the magnitude of its ineptitude by re-arresting her in a psychologically damaging manner in front of her entire social community? I hate to say it, but I honestly believe if this family was white, this wouldn’t have happened. The Galveston police department would probably be tripping over itself to make amends and apologize.

    And a bang-up job the Galveston police are doing anyway if they seriously believe they have 12-year-old prostitutes working residential communities. After all, under what circumstances wouldn’t a 12-year-old prostitute be a victim herself? Are police officers even require to THINK in Galveston for crying out loud? Geez.

  29. We are only getting one side of the story here.

    Unless the girl was, in fact, a prostitute, and was arrested and convicted of prostitution, there’s only one side of the story to get.

    I really need to get on more juries involving police misconduct, because I think I take the proper attitude about them.

    The cops’ side of the story probably runs: “We made a mistake and grabbed the wrong girl, but then the girl resisted, and her father came out and resisted, and we used the force we had to use to get the situation under control.” But to me that’s not really a defense – it’s a complete concession.

    As far as I’m concerned, if the cops fuck up and grab a 12 year old black girl while they’re looking for an adult white prostitute, then they should expect to be resisted, and if they hurt people overcoming that resistance they should expect to have their careers destroyed and their municipalities bankrupted. I’ll grant that the cops are allowed to make mistakes and still use force to overcome resistance – but only if the mistake is reasonable and passes the laugh test. Grabbing a random 12 year old girl off the street when you’re at the wrong house and when you’re looking for someone of a different race doesn’t qualify.

  30. What kind of police department, a full 7 days after realizing the horrendously large mistake it made in attempting to forcibly detain and arrest a totally innocent 12-year-old girl, compounds the magnitude of its ineptitude by re-arresting her in a psychologically damaging manner in front of her entire social community?

    They probably had figured out that they would be sued, and calculated that they had a better chance to defend themselves against a lawsuit if they papered the file with a bullshit arrest.

  31. Unless the girl was, in fact, a prostitute, and was arrested and convicted of prostitution, there’s only one side of the story to get.

    Even if the girl was a prostitute, I don’t see how the police officers actions would be excusable as they are currently being described.

  32. It’s such a shame that the father didn’t run outside with a shotgun. Given the situation that the police created

    Considering the racial dynamics here, it’s extremely fortunate he didn’t. He’d of either died there or on death row in 20 years.

  33. Haven’t read comments yet but did y’all see item 20 in the court docs where the officer threatened to also shoot the family dog?

  34. I’m trying to look at the police’s worldview here. Basically they see themselve’s as under siege from all sides. If they falter even slightly they’ll collapse. So they must never, ever publically admit wrongdoing, under any circumstances, as this would give the “bad guys” a wedge to destroy them.

  35. Given the situation that the police created, most juries in Texas would have probably let him off if he’d shot all three cops

    A jury might, but you can bet that the cops in his town would make his life hell. He’d have a cruiser tailgating him anytime he left the house.

    -jcr

  36. I read the Galveston Daily News article yesterday. Id like to know why they are witholding the police report. As you stated “I’m sure the police account of the incidents differs from that of Milburn” .. Id really love to read their account. I always thought police reports were public information. I hope some news organization sues under the the Freedom of Information Act to get this.

  37. I still don’t understand what the cops can be arguing here. I mean, this girl wasn’t a prostiture so regardless of the beating the cops made a huge mistake. So what’s the argument here “Yeah, we forcibly arrested this 12 year old girl, thinking she was a prostitute but we sure as heck didn’t beat her very hard.”

  38. Galveston is a crappier version of New Orleans.

  39. Given the situation that the police created, most juries in Texas would have probably let him off if he’d shot all three cops

    IF and ONLY IF there was absolutely zero possible way that he knew they were cops.

    If his story is inconsistent in any way, he’s going to jail for manslaughter, at the very least.

  40. Okay, has anybody bothered to call up Ron Paul and get his take on the situation since, you know, he’s all constitutioney and freedomey, and he uh… lives near there?

  41. Poll: Should police officers in the Dymond Milburn case be prosecuted? They haven’t even apologized, so no wonder the police dept. is getting sued. Click on my name to read more about this case, as told by a Civil Rights lawyer.

  42. The big deal here is that they did not have uniformed officers respond. Plainclothes require special training and tactics to handle situations such as these, and they must involve safety and containment until the uniformed officers arrive. Anyone can lie about being police, but you must accept the presumption and obey when you see a uniformed in a black and white.

  43. “””I’m trying to look at the police’s worldview here. Basically they see themselve’s as under siege from all sides. If they falter even slightly they’ll collapse. So they must never, ever publically admit wrongdoing, under any circumstances, as this would give the “bad guys” a wedge to destroy them.””””

    Paranoid, and hell bent on self preservation. Protect and serve means to protect yourself and serve the state.

  44. Let’s see.

    If I lived in Texas and a bunch of strangers tried to kidnap my daughter in front of me, there would be a bunch of dead strangers decorating the front lawn.

    The defense is straightforward: Protection of family against kidnappers. I doubt if any jury would bring down a guilty verdict.

    H.F. Wolff

  45. Is there a fund to pay for Dymond’s legal fee that we can donate to? Seriously what the girl went through was hellish.

  46. Anyone being charged with statutory rape could use this incident as a defense.

    “Your honor, I thought she was eighteen. If even our highly-trained super-observant police officers can’t tell the difference between a 12-year old girl and an adult prostitute, is it really fair to charge me with ‘sexual assault of a child’ for having consensual sex with a 17 year old?”

  47. I don’t know whether it makes the police look better or worse in this case, but it’s very likely that the Milburn home wasn’t just another house on the street to them. The father, Wilfred Milburn has a bit of history with the police.

    GALVESTON – A traffic stop turned into a felony drug arrest late Tuesday night.

    A patrol officer pulled over a car in the 4500 block of Avenue S about 10:45 p.m. for failing to signal before a turn, police said.

    The officer saw a red liquid in a clear, plastic soda bottle standing next to the driver, with more of the substance in an adjacent, Styrofoam cup. The substance turned out to be codeine, according to police reports.

    Galveston resident Wilfred Louis Milburn Jr., 42, was in jail Wednesday, under a $250,000 bond. He faces a charge of possession of a controlled substance, which carries a possible prison term of five to 99 years, or life, as well as a fine of up to $50,000.
    Police News for July 22, 2004: Traffic Stop Turns Into Arrest

    […]
    “NCIS had contacted us and asked if we’d work an operation before the ship docked on Friday,” Braun said.

    Sgt. Phillip Fleming, who leads the department’s vice and narcotics team, said the number of arrests and felony charges stemming from the operation made it a success.

    Attorney Anthony Griffin was not so sure. Griffin, a lawyer who has taken on many civil liberties cases in his legal career, said military involvement made for potentially murky legal issues.
    […]
    Charged were:

    ? Wilford Milburn, 43 … Milburn also faces a marijuana charge.

    Navy, DPS, GPD net 12 in drug sweep

    Eight misdemeanor cases listed (place Milburn Wilfred in “Party Name:” box and click search):

    Misdemeanor Records – Search

  48. “I don’t know whether it makes the police look better or worse in this case, but it’s very likely that the Milburn home wasn’t just another house on the street to them. The father, Wilfred Milburn has a bit of history with the police.”

    Given that the cops who grabbed Dymond are narcotics officers, the above information makes me wonder whether these officers knew exactly who they were grabbing and did so to interrogate the girl about her father.

  49. A couple of things about the two previous comments.

    Mr. Milburn was arrested on a charge of cocaine possession a couple of weeks after these men tried to kidnap his daughter. The arrest is suspicious, not only because of the timing, but because no evidence was ever presented. Mr. Milburn was sentencd to two years. This would keep him conveniently out of the way for a while. Meanwhile, the getaway car driver, Officer Gomez, was promoted to head of narcotics. He became Narcotics Commander in Galveston. One of the other officers involved in this crime – abducting a child from her home, regardless of what her parents may or may not have been involved in in the past is clearly a sinister crime – was awarded “Officer of the Year” in 2008.

    Please, keep in mind that this area is a hotbed of racism and police corruption that has to be seen to be believed. I’m from Missouri – I had to be here for a while before I believed it. But, it is true. People – innocent bystanders and so-called suspects are battered, tased or shot to death here pretty regularly by police and unless it’s the mayor’s daughter (that’s the latest scandal) the cops will assess their own behavior and say that they “acted properly.”

    This is not a normal place. We have a crime wave of human trafficking and cops engaged in crime. The police, the corrupt city, their corrupt crime lab, murderously corrupt officials here make it so that nobody who is paying attention trusts what the police or officials say or do. It is a complete breakdown of the public trust. There is no law and order here. If that weren’t true four police officers would not have been trying to abduct this child, in the first place. It is the police who have the drug dealing and human trafficking connections. They are far more terrifying than the common criminals here – and we have no shortage of those.

  50. I’m not clear on the timeline here. CharlesWT refers to Mr. Milburn being arrested for possession of a plastic bottle containing a red liquid which turned out to be codeine. The arrest was incidental to a traffic stop, not part of a narcotics sting. It sounds like the substance was pediatric codeine/acetaminophen syrup, which pharmacies dispense in a biggish plastic bottle.

    The second linked article talks about a narcotics sting involving the Navy. Was Mr. Milburn involved in two separate incidents, or was the codeine incident lumped in with the sting operation by the reporter?

    Angela Kaelin says Mr. Milburn was “arrested on a charge of cocaine possession a couple of weeks after these men tried to kidnap his daughter”. Is this a third incident?

    The Misdemeanor Records link lists 8 dockets, but the actual documents aren’t there so I can’t tell what the charges were (drugs? jaywalking?) or if they relate to separate incidents. However, they all end with a motion to dismiss, except for the final one which includes a plea of guilty and ends with a judgment and sentence.

    Are we talking here about a series of arrests for drug crimes? Or are we talking about a series of subsequently dismissed misdemeanor citations stemming from a misconstrual of legitimate actions such as a father picking up his kid’s prescription?

    And – most importantly – how is this relevant to Dymond’s case? Is her right to be treated respectfully and decently somehow dependent on her father’s reputation? Is it okay to waive the presumption of innocence if a suspect’s relative has a record of misdemeanor citations? Does stirring up suspicions about her father make her case less legitimate? Do these suspicions mean that it is understandable that the police would view Dymond as a criminal suspect instead of as a citizen whom they have a duty to protect and defend?

  51. “It’s such a shame that the father didn’t run outside with a shotgun. Given the situation that the police created, most juries in Texas would have probably let him off if he’d shot all three cops dead on the grounds that “they acted like no good varmints out to rape my child.”

    No, they’re black.

  52. “Your honor, I thought she was eighteen. If even our highly-trained super-observant police officers can’t tell the difference between a 12-year old girl and an adult prostitute, is it really fair to charge me with ‘sexual assault of a child’ for having consensual sex with a 17 year old?”

    Yeah, even if they thought she was a prostitute, surely they realized she was a minor, which would make her a victim of sexual exploitation.

    Maybe beating the shit out of rape victims is how they deal with it in Texas; my guess is their rape statistics would improve greatly, if nothing else.

  53. It seems that there are no shortage of subhumans and racists in Texas who would excuse any outrage against anyone who isn’t White.

    But that 30 mile, untouched debris field at Galveston should have humbled the jackasses. Not!

    Are these people even Americans? Most times, I get the impression that the most arrogant and obnoxious Texans think that they’re above, and separate from the rest of us.

    After 8 years, I’m just about sick of anything to do with Texas, right now. At least we’re running some of the creeps out on Jan 20, 2009.

  54. I hope citizens really work these cops over and render them disabled. The truth is that they were trying to rape this girl, and being white and therefore her superiors, it inferiorated these racists that this little black thing would turn down their sexual advances. If anybody sees these brutal, sexist, racist, and trash officers, be sure to work them over. When departments refuse to remove trash officers from the streets, the citizens must do it.

  55. 1. When cops receive a report, they are aware that they are receiving an abbreviated, and often incorrect, account of the situation. When they respond, they look for anything out of the ordinary. 2. There are plenty of 12-year-old hookers in this world. 3. Plainclothes policemen wear plain clothes. These cops were in uniform, albeit not the standard dress uniform. 4. When you resist a cop, you can expect that cop to use force. 5. God help that little girl because her family surely didn’t. What father or mother would send their kid outside to work on house power? That stuff can kill you. 6. If you let your kid dress like a hooker, people will assume your kid is a hooker.

  56. This 12 yr old girl lives in Galveston. It’s hot and humid there. She was probably wearing a tank top and shorts like everyone else does here in Texas. That outfit would hardly make her a hooker. Hell maybe she was wearing platform clear acrylic shoes with a sequined tub top, a leather mini and a boa. In that case she would be a 12 yr old girl playing dress up!

    As for playing with power…she was flipping a switch on a fuse box. People and children do that all of the time. That most certainly doesn’t make her parents “bad”.

    Also we’ve had several fake police officers her in North Texas and a few women were raped by one if I recall correctly. They were telling people not to stop for an officer unless it was in a well lite crowded place at night for a while. Do you think that little girl saw badges or do you think she saw several big men running at her and yelling prostitute first?

  57. My stomach cringes at the very notion of reading this bs.. Im so appalled, hurt, inraged!…. I almost dont even know how to respond…I applaud the father. He should have SHOT AND KILLED ALL THREE COPS…The are scum. Degenerate bastards.

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