On March 12, 2012, James was driving through Soundview neighborhood, when officers reportedly stopped him for allegedly having a damaged tail light.
But what reportedly happened next shocked eyewitnesses: James was allegedly pulled from his car and beaten in the street, with one officer reportedly placing a female witness in a headlock and throwing her boyfriend through a window for defending her.
On Wednesday, while James was at the courthouse for his trial, the Mass Incarceration Network brought attention to his case outside, “Jeffeth James’ case is a certain representation of what is the rising epidemic of police brutality as it relates to the question of mass incarceration,” said Steve Yip (pictured above, left of sign), a Stop Mass Incarceration leader. “Here, we have a situation where a motorist who has no police record [is] getting stopped by the police and he’s asked why he was being stopped. And because of that, he was actually treated brutally, dragged out of his car by his hair. Forty percent (of his hair) was ripped off his roots, and he was beaten almost to the point of death.”
Watch a News 12 report about the case here:
Noche Diaz, another Stop Mass Incarceration organizer, says she witnessed James’ beating firsthand. “I was visiting my grandmother and walking to McDonald’s, and I saw a crowd of police officers in the street and some people had begun to stop,” Diaz shared outside the courthouse. “There was a man in the middle of the street. Police officers were on top of him, he was surrounded, and the police were beating him.”
Diaz, who was arrested with James and charged with disorderly conduct for filming the incident, called allegations that James was resisting arrest “bulls**t”: “I was also there,” Diaz said. “He was not resisting, not fighting back in any kind of way, but he was continuing to be pummeled by the police. He was basically limp and calm on the floor.”
“This was at least 6 on 1, with many, many other police trying to push the observers away,” said Debra Sweet (pictured left of Yip) after the rescheduling. “We have video.”
Despite having to wait two months for any signs of justice, the Network isn’t waiting to take action.
We will seek to bring together a more cohesive plan around Jeffeth’s case that will be aligned strategically with our remaining stop-and-frisk cases in Queens and also with the most recent arrests post-Zimmerman verdict of Jamel Mims and Noche Diaz — both of whom were arrested without provocation in Harlem during an open-air Justice for Trayvon Martin speakout,” Yip wrote in a follow-up email. They also plan on raising funds for James’ legal defense.
James faces six misdemeanors at trial, including resisting arrest and two counts of assault. The judge on the case decided to postpone the trial’s start date to November 14th to allow the prosecution more time to prepare.