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H20 jury spends 6th day deadlocked on questions of force - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

H20 jury spends 6th day deadlocked on questions of force

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 12:30 am

HOUSTON — Jurors in the trial of the city of Galveston and 10 police officers accused of abusing members of a 2008 wedding party continued deliberations in a Houston federal courtroom Tuesday and asked for clarification on questions addressing the alleged use of excessive force.

Jurors have been given yes-or-no questions addressing whether individual officers used excessive force against members of the wedding party.

If the jurors decide excessive force was used, they must also determine whether individual officers used force “that no reasonable officer could have believed was within the bounds of appropriate police responses according to clearly established law.”

In a note to the court, the jury asked how to differentiate between the two types of questions or between “qualified immunity” and excessive force.

Qualified immunity protects any defendant who did not knowingly break the law or display incompetence.

The jury entered a sixth day of deliberations Tuesday after receiving what is sometimes referred to as a “dynamite charge” from U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison encouraging jurors to break through deadlock and prevent a mistrial.

Jurors wrote in a note Monday that they had addressed every question addressing the alleged use of excessive force at The San Luis Resort’s H2O Bar on Oct. 5, 2008. However, jurors wrote, “we are deadlocked on some while others have been answered yes or no.”

Ellison wrote that it was the jury’s duty “to agree upon a verdict if you can do so without surrendering your conscientious opinion” on the case.

If jurors find that excessive force was used by Galveston police officers, the jury must also decide whether a custom within the department allowed the alleged abuse. The jurors will also decide how much money, if any, should be awarded to the 12 plaintiffs suing the city and the accused officers.

Deliberation continues today.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.