Juan May Hearing – January 28, 2021, 11 am Eastern

Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Juan May

SPEAKERS

  • Rapporteur Priscilla Ocen
  • Commissioner Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo
  • Commissioner Sir Clare Roberts
  • Mrs. Jindia Blount, sister of Juan May
  • Mr. Anthony Eiland, attorney for the May family

Priscilla Ocen  00:00

Now we’re going to resume. I think we just want to check in to make sure our commissioners are here. So we’ll just wait. Great. Thank you. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the hearings of the International Commission of Inquiry on systemic racist police violence against people of African descent in the United States. These hearings are a forum by which witnesses can present accounts of the unjustified killings and maimings of Black people by police officers in the United States before an international panel of human rights experts. My name is Priscilla Ocen and I am the rapporteur for today’s hearing. We will be joined, and today’s hearing will explore the case of Juan May. Presiding over this hearing today is Sir Clare Roberts of Antigua and Commissioner Hannibal Uwaifo of Nigeria. The witnesses for today are attorney Anthony Eiland, and Jindia Blount, the sister of Mr. Juan May. There will be 50 minutes for this hearing and witnesses will testify followed by a period of questions from commissioners. I will call time at the 30 minute mark and also at the 45 minute mark. So I hope that you’ll excuse my interruptions, commissioners Roberts and Uwaifo. I now present our first witness. Mr. Eiland. Mr. Eiland, before you speak, can you confirm your name?

Anthony Eiland  01:44

It’s Anthony Eiland. Can you, can you hear me?

Priscilla Ocen  01:47

Yes, I can hear you. Thank you. And Mr. Eiland? Do you promise your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Anthony Eiland  01:58

Yes, I do.

Priscilla Ocen  01:59

You can proceed. Thank you.

Anthony Eiland  02:01

Thank you. Good morning, everyone. As I stated before, my name is Anthony Eiland. And I was the attorney that that worked on the Juan May case. And just to kind of give you all some background on the case and some of the legality issues that we had to endure during this process. I’ll go over with you. The incident occurred on June 21 of 2014, around 9:30pm. And essentially, this particular night, there was a celebration, a birthday celebration, where several individuals got together and they rented a party bus and had different excursions throughout the city in that particular day. And at the end of it, they were all to meet at the Pappadeaux’s seafood kitchen out in Duncanville Texas, where everyone would disperse and go home. At some point during the night, there was a disagreement that ensued regarding some of the individuals that were there. One of the individuals was Juan May, our client. He got into an argument with Thedrick Andres, who is the defendant in this case, and Thedrick Andres is a police officer at the time, and he was a police officer. And during that night, of course, he was off duty. But at some point, there was a disagreement that occurred between Patrick May and Thedrick Andres. And as there was some back and forth going on between the two, a fight ensues. And as a result of it Juan May got involved and tried to break the two up. Because if you know this point, you’re you’re at a party, you’re trying to have a good time, and you didn’t want people to be fighting.

And as he was attempting to break up the fight, and then Mr. Andres, then struck Mr. May, Juan May. And at that point once he struck him, and those two began to fight. Now this fight extends outside the bus. And it lasts a few minutes as other people are standing around watching kind of seeing what’s going on and the fight ends. And as the fight ends, at some point, Mr. Andres decides that, Okay, I’m going to go get my gun. He announces himself as being a police officer, and he’s going to go and get a gun. No one else outside was armed, had any weapons, the fight that had taken place minutes before. We’re strictly by, by hands. And so as Mr. Juan May hears that he’s going to get a gun. He decides, look, we need to de escalate this. I don’t, he does not need to be getting a gun. And he tries to basically catch up to Mr. Andres to prevent him from getting a gun and hurting anyone. As Mr. Andres gets to his car,  Mr. May is behind him, and is trying to get his attention to stop him from retrieving a weapon. And so as he does this, Mr. Andres gets in, he unlocked his car door, gets inside his vehicle, pulls out a gun comes up and immediately shoots Mr. May. Mr. May falls at that point. And those are. that is the injury that he ultimately ultimately died from.

Now, the issue that we had was when Mr. Andres announced himself as being a police officer, you know, we argued in court that, of course, that was him, invoking his police powers. And he decided at that point that he was going to operate under the color of law as a police officer. And before the court, and all of their filings and in their arguments, they never denied that he had adopted his police duties. And so he, he was, in fact, operating under the color of law. The issue that we had was, and in all of these cases, I see that this is a problem here in America as far as being able to successfully argue and successfully hold these municipalities accountable is qualified immunity. So basically, qualified immunity allows for police officers to and for municipalities to hide behind that particular law, which basically states that if you’re operating within the the color under the color of law, as an officer, and you’re essentially exercising your duties and your ability to police as a police officer, and it’s reasonable for other police officers have to have responded in such a way, then the city, the municipalities, and the police officers are not to be held liable for those are those actions. And so that was what we had to try to overcome. And unfortunately, that was the argument that was difficult for us to sustain, because the way that the judge played it out in front of in the court was well, when Mr. May, you know, approached Mr. Andres, after the fight was over and was trying to, quote unquote, you know, de escalate the situation and to make sure that he didn’t retrieve a weapon.

Well, how did the officer know that? He wasn’t trying to inflict any additional harm. How did he know what he was attempting to do? Wouldn’t a reasonable police officer in that situation feel like, Hey, I feel threatened at this point. So he felt they’re saying that, you know, he felt, I guess he was justified in retrieving that weapon. We argued that that wasn’t the case. We argued that number one, Mr. May never possessed a weapon. And everybody out there knew that he didn’t have a weapon. And that’s the fight that had taken place between he and Mr. Andres was over. And so and knowing that it’s over, and knowing that he didn’t have a weapon, and knowing that, in his attempts to approach him, as he was walking to his car, it was all to de escalate and to say, hey, you don’t need your gun. You don’t need a weapon. Look, this is over. Let’s everybody go home. And so, you know, essentially, the court disagreed with us. And they sided with the city saying that, you know, it appears that it was reasonable for any other police officer under those circumstances to have retrieved the weapon and committed the act that he in fact, did. And, you know, as I follow these cases around the country, you always see that you see that, you know, they’re always giving this differential treatment to these police officers and to these municipalities. But in fact, the problem is, you know, with the types of police officers that they have on the streets, and if you’re trying to hire good people, or you’re trying to put good officers on the streets, you’re gonna have to start holding some of these cities and these municipalities accountable.

Because as it stands right now, police officers are able to do whatever they want to do. And the city can hide behind, oh, qualified immunity, which in fact, is a made up all by the court system. And they’re not held accountable. And until these municipalities get started being held accountable for hiring these subpar people to be police officers, you’re going to continue to have these instances where innocent people are being killed. And so, you know, I don’t want to talk too much. And I’ll give some more information later on. But I want to give Ms. May an opportunity to give her account of the events that took place out there because she was there. But as far as how all of this played out, you know, something has to happen. Something needs to change as far as the law is concerned, because these cities need to be held accountable.

Jindia Blount  11:14

Am I allowed to speak?

Anthony Eiland  11:21

Ms. May? Are you there?

Jindia Blount  11:22

Yes, I’m here. I just I didn’t know if I was to wait for someone to –

Sir Clare Roberts  11:29

Professor Ocen?

Priscilla Ocen  11:32

Yes, sorry. I dropped out. Apologies.

Sir Clare Roberts  11:43

Mrs. May were going to speak. Okay.

Priscilla Ocen  11:49

Sorry, let me just introduce you. Ms. Blount, apologies. I got kicked out of the meeting. Next witness will be Jindia Blount, who is the sister of Mr. May. Miss blank. Can you confirm your full name?

Jindia Blount  12:09

Yes. Jindia Jaswant Blount.

Priscilla Ocen  12:24

I’m having trouble hearing you. So I’m just going to invite you to begin your testimony.

Jindia Blount  12:31

Okay. Hi, my name is Jindia Blount. I am the sister of Mr. Juan May. And I just want to start by saying thank you to all of the commissioners and the attorneys and all of the dignitaries here. Thank you for this platform and the opportunity to be able to speak my truth regarding my brother’s case. So my testimony is a little bit different. From you know, there were 26 people on this party bus that attended this party for my cousin on the night of June the 21st. And I have a different vantage point. So I see this act through a different lens, because I was there, because I attempted to render aid to my brother and was unsuccessful. So throughout that night, Anthony is absolutely right, we did go to several different venues to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. Mr. Andres was on the bus. But he was a civilian at that point, that no one knew was he, nobody knew, I had never met him before. I didn’t know he was an officer. Neither did my brother. So on our way back to our rendezvous point, which was Pappadeux’s Cajun kitchen, seafood kitchen. There was a verbal altercation between Thedrick and my cousin Patrick. And in that verbal altercation, you know, my cousin jokingly said to him, you know, why don’t you put, get on the pole and show us some of your moves? And Thedrick’s response, he uttered some homophobic profanities that I can’t, not to, not to repeat on a platform such as this one.

And, you know, on the ride back, the air just got really thick. And you could, you know, hear that he was, Mr. Andres was really upset by the notion of him dancing on the pole on the bus, which was meant as a joke. So to kind of defuse the situation and lighten the mood, my brother kind of got up and grabbed the pole and started dancing the trying to you know, make people laugh and make the mood a little bit lighter. But when we were on the bus, I was actually seated next to Mrs. Andres, which is Thedrick’s wife, and he was seated next to her, and I could hear him telling her, oh, they don’t know who they playing with, you know, these N-words, don’t know who the F I am, blah, blah, blah, but I didn’t think anything of it. And afterwards, I actually dealt with guilt from that, from not picking up on the fact that he was really, really angry. So we get back to Pappadeux’s. And when we are departing the bus, my cousin Patrick, and my cousin Robin, were the first to to get off the bus. And then Thedrick and his his wife, they depart the bus along with some other people. And my brother, they get off the bus, him and his fiance, and I am on the bus, me and my husband we’re on. We’re still on the bus, helping to clean the bus so that my cousin Edwin won’t get a charge for any debris or trash that’s left on the bus. We want him to get his full deposit back. So as I’m stepping off the bus, I see my brother with these two buckets of drinks that he had provided. It was like Margarita drinks that come in the bucket. And he’s got the bucket in his hand and he’s looking over his shoulder.

And my cousin Patrick is letting him know that Thedrick is approaching. So as he looks over, and he sees Thedrick approaching him, he puts down the Margarita mix bottles, mind you, I’ll rewind for a second when Thedrick called my cousin Patrick, the, the homophobic, profane profanity word on the bus. It It made me uncomfortable. You know, I was, I was very uncomfortable, but I just had no idea what was going to, what was going to take place, I didn’t know that it would escalate to something so, so violent, and so, so tragic for me and my family. So when Juan saw that he was approaching, he put the Margarita bottles down, and I’m stepping off the bus, he was, had his trunk open, because he was about to load it into his trunk. The bus was blocking my brother’s car. And so there was nowhere we could go. So Thedrick approaches my brother and my brother walks up to him, he’s like, Man, look, we had a good time tonight. You know, we’re not even gonna do all of that, whatever, you know, let’s just go home. And we had a good time. And Thedrick said something to my brother, and whatever he said, so my brother, my brother did hit him, and a fight ensued. Okay, so there was a fight that took place. My cousin Patrick walked over, and he pushed the two of them apart. When he pushed the two of them apart. Thedrick then hit my cousin, and they began to fight. Okay. But at no point did this man lose consciousness or, you know, or anything like that. When the fight was over, when the fight was over, my brother was walking towards his car, which again, was blocked by the party bus.  Thedrick Andres made a mad dash for his car, his wife yelled out, you there’s a gun in the car, there’s a gun in the car. She unlocked the door with the key fob. And he ran towards his car. When my brother heard that there was a gun in the car.

He ran after Thedrick because he didn’t know there was a gun in the car. But when he heard that, he ran to try to stop him from getting to the car, and his baby sister and only sibling, his fiance’s brother in law, and about four or five cousins went in that parking lot. So I was asked during grand jury, why do I think my brother ran towards Mr. Andres? My response was I can’t answer that, I would be speculating. But the grand jury asked, he said, No, I want you to speculate. So my answer was and still is, as a trained combat Marine, he was trained to enclose on the threat and engage the enemy. At that point when a gun was introduced, that was, in my humble opinion, what he was trying to do. He didn’t want a gun to be introduced into a parking lot, where all of his family and friends were. Okay, so that is still my testimony. Um, when Juan went to grab  Thedrick, he went to grab him and pull him away from the car. And he was able to reach down with his other arm and still reach down into the car and come up in he shot my brother. Now from where I was standing when the shot went off. I couldn’t tell right away if the shot just went off or who was shot, because it took a few seconds for my brother’s body to collapse and fall backwards. I ran towards him but as I was trying to run towards my brother, I stopped because after Mr. Andres shot my brother, he had the gun in his hand. He stepped over him and he was looking like he was looking for someone else. So in that moment, I froze. Now my husband and my cousin Patrick, who were both wearing a white top that night. So I saw my husband come, and I saw Mr. Andres peek at my husband, but my cousin Patrick had already left. Okay, so it really made me it really made me fearful. But by the same token, I still felt like I needed to get to my brother to try to render aid.

My cousin Edwin was talking to Thedrick to try to get the firearm from him. Meanwhile, me and my brother’s fiancee, we got down on our knees, I tried to stop the bleeding. I tried to do CPR, but there was nothing that I could do to render aid. When the police arrived on the scene, they came from both parking entrances to the parking lot. And they pretty much just walked around and snapped their gloves. But no one got down and tried to help and render aid with me and my brother’s fiancee. So my my attempt to render aid and save his life was unsuccessful. They the ambulance came, but Arlington Police Department also showed up on the scene. Now, I was there, I was near my brother, I was not far from where the fight took place. And I also chased him when I saw that he was trying to stop this man from getting this gun. At no point that night did I hear him introduce himself as a police officer. All I heard was his wife saying you this gun in the car, there’s a gun in the car. And I heard a shot go off. I didn’t hear anything come out of his mouth that night. And that was still is my sworn testimony. This has been this has been the single most tragic thing that my family has had to endure.

Because as a result of my brother’s death, you know, we’ve had subsequent tragedies. I’m, for instance, my grandmother willed herself that she did not want to live in a world without her firstborn grandson, she stopped eating and she did die 90 days after we buried him. You know, my mother is a broken woman and my father is but a shell of the man that he used to be before he lost his only son and firstborn child. So my brother left behind two daughters, and a son who’s also a Marine, just like his dad was, but you know, those girls, their dad won’t be here to see them walk down the aisle. You know, my nephew, he’s got two babies on the way, my brother is going to be a grandfather, he will not be here to witness that. So like the totality and the way that this has caused the Continental Divide in my family. I don’t think when these cases go before the courts, they talk about just that one aspect of the incident that took place. But I don’t think that anyone it really takes into account the the broad spectrum of how this negatively impacts families.

Priscilla Ocen  23:26

Thank you so much for your powerful testimony, Mrs. Blount. And let me just extend our condolences to you and your family for not only the loss of your brother Juan May, but also for all of the tragedies that have followed. I’m going to now ask our commissioners, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Uwaifo, if you have questions for our witnesses, so I will turn it over to our commissioners for their questions.

Sir Clare Roberts  23:59

Thank you very much, professor.

Priscilla Ocen  24:07

Commissioner, you are muted.

Sir Clare Roberts  24:09

I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I like to join Professor Ocen in giving my condolences to Mrs. Blount on the tragic way in which she lost her brother. So the suffering as I understand it, it’s not just with her, but the whole family would have been broken. So condolences.

Jindia Blount  24:41

Thank you.

Sir Clare Roberts  24:41

I wanted to ask Mrs. Blount, in terms of justice for your brother, what would you consider that justice is – No, there’s nothing that can bring him back. But what would satisfy you that there’s been some justice in the, in this awful situation?

Jindia Blount  25:08

Well, you know, I really think that that what you just said is very important, nothing can bring my brother back. However, I would like to see some type of accountability. You know, I want to, I want admission of negligence, of dereliction of duty, of carelessness, the loss of a life has happened and no one can bring him back to us. But I think it’s the evasiveness and I think that no one, there’s no admission of guilt here. I want, you know, someone to hold this individual accountable. Because one thing that my mom wanted, she’s like, you know, I’m a Christian woman, I have forgiveness in my heart, I just want to know, of all the other options that he had, you know, placing him under arrest, you know, leaving and going home, what made him decide to take my son’s life? And I just wanted answers to those questions, you know, allow him to answer those questions, accept accountability, and apology, just accountability and acceptance of the fact that alcohol was involved. You were not acting within the scope of the law. I don’t care what anyone says, I was there. Okay. And, you know, there are some things surrounding the incident, surrounding the firearm, surrounding your service jacket that shows that this is not the first time that you’ve done this, you know, maybe some education for future officers that are coming up sensitivity training, and education on on how to transact in those types of environments, where it won’t end up with a loss of life.

Sir Clare Roberts  27:07

Just one very quick, further question Mrs. Blount, has there been any effort on the part of the state to honor the memory of your brother since this incident?

Jindia Blount  27:24

No, sir, the only honor of my brother’s legacy has been done by a group that I advocate with here, called the Mothers Against Police Brutality. And we do an annual event called the voices of grief or struggle. And I’ve done you know, my best, the best of my ability to keep his story alive, and to advocate and to make sure that no one forgets his story, because his case does not fit into that box of, his story does not fit into that box of like, a uniformed officer and someone that was pulled over that lost their lives. So I’ve always felt like I’ve had to work a little bit harder, because it doesn’t fit into that box, if you will. And so a lot of people don’t really consider this, an officer involved shooting, but it still involved the abuse, misuse and overuse of power. Because he was given that because Thedrick was given that preferential treatment in that. I mean, case in point, Arlington Police Department showed up on this, at the scene of the crime, and we were clearly in Duncanville jurisdiction. So they had no jurisdiction there. But they showed up and they were asked to go home. I mean, not asked to go home, but they were told to leave. So there’s just, you know, there, there are muddy waters there. There’s no clear, concise set of regiments of rules, if you will, when it comes to off duty officers. If that makes sense.

Sir Clare Roberts  29:18

It certainly does.

Hannibal Uwaifo  29:22

Thank you very much. Let me join my fellow Commissioners Sir Clare Roberts and Professor Ocen to express the condolences for the African Bar Association. I wanted to find out something from you as a policeman who was not on duty so at a party, there was some kind of trouble between friends wherever, the way they fight, And he goes to his car to get a gun. Was he not discussing…? What was he getting a gun for? Elementary law tells us the responsibility to intend the natural probable consequences, which follow from his actions. So if you want to get a gun when all the people are the party were not holding guns. And you are a policeman and you do not have the training or not to settle disputes among friends at a party. Was a rush to get a gun through the argument and somebody got shot and killed. Not because they have got involved or are fighting with guns [bad connection, inaudible]

Anthony Eiland  31:22

It kind of broke up there towards the end. So I didn’t, I didn’t hear everything that you said towards the end.

Priscilla Ocen  31:33

So I think I caught most of the question. I think the question was one, you know, this, the defendant here was not in uniform, not a sworn police officer. And the the fact that he is an officer – was there not training about how to handle these kinds of situations without, you know, using a gun or deadly or deadly force. Mr. Uwaifo, Commissioner, Uwaifo, if I misstated that, let me know. You can add to that if you like.

Hannibal Uwaifo  32:14

Yes, no, That was part of the question. But I wanted to answer specifically, what were the arguments in court, when Mr Andres introduced a gun, when there were no gun in the past? For what was…[inaudible]

Anthony Eiland  32:45

Yeah. So. So Commissioner, thank you for that question. And as far as the arguments in court, so number one, you know, there was the issue of him being an off duty police officer. He wasn’t in uniform. I think some of the people there knew that he was a police officer. I don’t think everybody, but following the the fight the scuffle that that had occurred that night, apparently, that’s when he announced himself as being a police officer. So at that point, everybody, okay, we know he’s, he’s a police officer. Now, there is case law that shows that even off duty police officers can enjoy the benefits of qualified immunity and operating under the color of law, as long as they announced themselves. And so once he announced himself as being a police officer, even though he was off duty, then he was able to basically adopt that that argument in court, which is what his attorneys were shooting for, they wanted to do that. So, you know, to cover him and to also cover the city so that they wouldn’t be liable. So once they were able to adopt that and implement that, then we move on to the latter part where he rushes to his vehicle to retrieve a weapon.

And so yeah, in court, we did argue that we argue, hey, you know, all this training that he’s had, you know, as a police officer, you know, using an actual weapon is supposed to be the very last resort. That’s not your first resort, especially in situations where no, no weapons have been exhibited. Nobody’s shown to have any guns or knives or anything like that, which, during the course of this, the fight that had preceded this, nobody had any weapons. And so in that situation, so and we made that argument to the court, what’s the – point number one, the fight that that had taken place was over. And number two, how in fact Is there a any avenue for them to be able to argue that he was justified in retrieving a weapon in a situation that didn’t call for a weapon? And basically, you know, and I sat in front of the court, we were there for about three and a half, four hours that day arguing. And, you know, the other side, they kept saying, well, when he went to his vehicle, you know, he was going because he felt, you know, he was in danger, he was threatened. He didn’t know that the that the fight was over. He, he, and that’s basically how they they always argue, and in all these other cases that we’ve seen, these police officers are always saying how threatened they feel, and how under so much duress, they’re under.

And so they needed to do what they did. You know, in Malley v. Briggs. It’s interesting, because the court in that case, said qualified immunity is designed to protect from civil liability, all but the plainly incompetent, or those who knowingly violate the law. They further went to say that if public officials or officers have reasonable competence, could disagree, disagree, on whether the conduct is legal, immunity should still be recognized. So that saying, even if you’re a reasonable person in that situation, and you’re disagreeing with other people in your in your field, then they’re still saying that a qualified immunity should still be in effect. And so it makes no sense that, you know, they’re using this made up law to hide behind and to advance the the terrible actions of these police officers. And so yeah, we made those arguments. We got pushback from the other side. And the court just flat out, allowed them to get away with it.

Jindia Blount   37:09

Can I just add on-

Anthony Eiland  37:16

Please go.

Jindia Blount  37:18

Can I just add that not only was he not operating within the scope of the law, but he was drunk, he was inebriated, he had been before the party bus arrived to take us to our destination. The guest of honor, which was my cousin, everybody else was on the bus. And he was like, has anybody seen my friend that they had to go and find him inside the restaurant at the bar? So he had already gotten a head start? Okay. So when this incident took place, he, he was, he just was blurting out, he was just being belligerent the entire night. It started from the very beginning, his mindset was, um, you know, he just was really haughty and just really boastful and belligerent the entire night. And when we got to the courts, they they literally asked him to demonstrate because he lied. Okay, I can say he lied and said that he was fearful, because he tried to make a claim that my,  he tried to make a claim that my brother was trying to fight him. So with one hand he was trying to fend off, and with the other hand, he used to get the gun. And he was asked to demonstrate that in open court at the grand jury, I mean, and he was like, Oh, I’m nervous there. And, you know, they were like, oh, I’ll wait. But he was not able to reenact that, where he was able to unholster his off duty service weapon.

He couldn’t demonstrate that again for the courts. But that was his testimony. So it’s just for as a civilian, I don’t, you know, I’m a veteran, but as a civilian, I don’t know how I just can’t fathom how, if this is your testimony, and we’re asking you to recreate this in so that we can see how you felt threatened and that you use this force because you were you were feel fearful of your of your life, then demonstrate how you with one hand on holster this weapon and shot this civilian, this unarmed man, and he wasn’t able to do it, but there was still no consequence. There was still no consequence for that. And again, the service jacket show that this was not his first time pulling out his service weapon on a civilian. I mean, it’s in his service jacket, and and and I’ve just had so many questions. Like about the fact that the firearm used to kill my brother had the serial number filed off of it. Like these are questions that my family have always had. But we never got answers because it was just put to bed.

Priscilla Ocen  40:18

Thank you Ms. Blount, I just want to note that we’re at about 840. So that means we have about 10 minutes left remaining in the hearing of the case of Juan May. I’ll turn it back over to the commissioners for additional questions.

Hannibal Uwaifo  40:36

Thank you very much. Sorry, Sir Clare, I just finish in a minute. Now, I was gonna say, you know, to Mrs. Blount and Anthony Eiland, and is it safe to say now that the US laws and the US courts have admitted police officers above the law, without willingness to correct or conclude?

Anthony Eiland  41:02

Oh, absolutely, absolutely they have.

Jindia Blount  41:05

Yes, sir.

Anthony Eiland  41:08

And I’ll say this, as far as that’s concerned, you know, when we talk about qualified immunity, when we talk about the scope of these police officers’ abilities, none of this is, number one, is not in the Constitution. Number two, it’s not, it’s not a law that was actually passed through legislation. This, this information strictly came from the courts. It was invented by the courts. And so you have a lot of justices and federal judges who disagree, who disagree. Some believe that qualified immunity shouldn’t even exist, because it’s made up. And when you have the court system, actually, basically making laws from the bench, it eliminates an entire branch of our government, the ability, their ability to make law. And you know, what they’re doing right now is inventing this term and inventing this particular cause of action. It’s, it’s killing people. And like I said before, until someone does something about this and gets rid of this qualified immunity, these cities are still going to be allowed to hire any and everybody. And a lot of those people are not qualified to be police officers, and they’re going to make wrong decisions. They’re going to kill people. And at the end of the day, they’re going to be protected by this law.

Priscilla Ocen  42:45

You are muted.

Jindia Blount  42:49

I’m sorry. I was just, it was in the comments was saying that I didn’t get sworn in.

Priscilla Ocen  42:57

Yes, I’ll, I’ll address that before we conclude. But if you want to answer any of the questions that were posed. Or Commissioner Roberts, I think you also have questions.

Sir Clare Roberts  43:09

I have a question for Mr. Eiland. He said that something has to happen. What changes? What reforms? Would you like to see, in order to stamp out these killings of persons of African descent by police, and to ensure accountability, including prosecution and punishment for these awful acts? I understand you to say qualified immunity should be repealed. It sounds like common law principle, judge-made law. But what other changes do you would you recommend?

Anthony Eiland  43:59

Well, one of the changes, there are several changes, actually, some of the changes are number one, I think the legislature, I think we need to start electing progressive people to office, people who recognize and understand what’s happening and what’s taking place in our court system. And I think once we start electing good legislators to come in and to, you know, pass laws to outlaw qualified immunity. That’s one thing that can be done. Another thing that can be done is people can start pushing their cities and their municipalities, and I know people are doing it now but you need to do it on a more concerted effort, push them to reform their police officer hiring practices, and to stop basically hiding behind this made up law. I think you know, and I saw yesterday, and I don’t know how far it’s going to be. I know, we’re happy that Trump is out of office. But Biden just created a panel thing yesterday, a day before for Supreme Court reform. And I think, you know, depending on the direction that that goes, if we can actually start appointing people to the court, that are not on board with qualified immunity and hopefully get that overturned, then those cities that don’t decide to reform their police departments in their hiring practices, won’t be able to hide behind that law anymore. Once that is overturned, and qualified immunity is gotten rid of, because I guarantee once these courts, these cities, and these municipalities started getting lawsuits and started getting hit in the pockets, and they started getting held accountable financially for killing, you know, Black men and women. At that point, they’re going to start changing their practices and how they hire people, they’re going to make sure that they hire qualified people, they’re going to make sure that the people that they do hire are executing their duties the way that they’re supposed to, and not not the way that they want.

Jindia Blount  46:17

I agree with Anthony, you know, unless the consequences are mirrored and the the the cost for committing such egregious acts are mirrored for people as a whole, there’s not going to be a change, because right now, those consequences for law enforcement are completely juxtaposed to those who are civilians, and unless they begin to look the same, then there’s gonna be no accountability. And as for the courts, I can’t speak to every case, but um, you know, in my brother’s case, and in the Harrison case, there was no acting district attorney, there was no presiding DA, because she was in, she was in drug rehab for, I think, for a dependency on whatever substance that she was getting treatment for. So there was no acting district attorney that presided over those cases. And to my knowledge, and understanding my limited knowledge and understanding, the district attorney can, they can actually advise the grand jury to indict based on probable cause alone, if there was a district attorney that was presiding over the case. And I know for a fact that for my brother’s case, and for the Harrison case, she was not present. So I just feel that these cases just didn’t get their due diligence in court. So of course, it was no-billed. But, you know, district attorney, Susan Hawk, at the time the Dallas DA, she was in a treatment facility, so she wasn’t present. So just little things that I feel these cases don’t get their due diligence. I don’t think that it should have been able to go through the process without the without the district attorney, being there.

Anthony Eiland  48:17

You know, and just to piggyback on what Mrs. Blount just said, You know, I was a prosecutor here in Dallas for several years, and I saw how the grand jury process works. And one of the things, one of the problems that that these types of cases have is the DA offices work hand in hand with police departments all the time. And so when you’re working in partnership with these, these departments, then you basically kind of become beholden to those particular departments, and the fact that you know, that they work so, so closely together. They don’t ever want to step on each other’s toes. And so the DAs don’t want to indict police officers for you know, for dereliction of duty, and they don’t want to have to hold, you know, DPD or any other police department accountable. And so they’re always going to try to sweep that stuff under the rug. That’s the reason why you don’t see a lot of police officers being indicted. That’s the reason why you don’t see a lot of these police departments being held accountable and liable for their actions and their practices is because they work hand in hand. And they simply don’t want to step on each other’s toes so they they look the other way.

Priscilla Ocen  49:42

Thank you, Mr. Eiland. At this point, I’m going to note that we are out of time, but before we conclude, I just want to ask, Mrs. Blount to affirm that her testimony today to the commission of inquiry was true, and to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Jindia Blount  50:08

Yes, ma’am, it was.

Priscilla Ocen  50:10

Thank you very much. And Mrs. Blount, again, I want to thank you for, you know, just your ability to speak on what was clearly such a tragic and senseless loss. And to be and I just commend you on how much courage you’ve shown today in stepping in and being an advocate for your brother. And thank you, Mr. Eiland for your representation of Mr. May and his family. And thank you to our commissioners Commissioner, Sir Clare Roberts, and Commissioner Hannibal Uwaifo Thank you for your time and your diligent questions, and want to thank our audience, both here on Zoom and on Facebook for for joining us for this hearing on the death of Juan May, at the hands of an off duty Dallas police officer. That concludes our hearing. They will resume tomorrow. And we will see you all then. Thank you very much. Thank you.

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