Corruption in Jacksonville, FL – The Brenton Butler Case
Hat tip to 2dogsonly.
2dogsonly posted a comment on the page Upsetting the Apple Cart that spurred me to find out more information and blog about the Brenton Butler case. I also discovered the film on Youtube that 2dogsonly referenced, Murder on A Sunday Morning. It is embedded below. Made by French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 74th Academy Awards in 2001. The film follows the case from the defenses’ strategy through verdict and afterwards when the guilty person was arrested and convicted.
The film provides information on how Jacksonville prosecutors were driven to make an arrest of anyone because of the nature of the case.
In May 2000, in Jacksonville, Florida, 15-year-old Brenton Butler was charged with murder. As a public defender said in the documentary, the first news he heard about it was that a 15-year-old Black kid had killed a White woman tourist and confessed to the crime. The victim’s husband identified Brenton as the perpetrator, and Brenton signed a confession. At his trial however, Brenton testified that he had been brutalized into his confession. Detectives and cops told him what he did, took him out of the police station in shackles and beat him, wrote the confession and made him sign it as one cop unholstered his firearm.
The public defenders provided photos of Brenton showing bruises that they argued were caused by the beating. They also asked logical questions of witnesses, such as if the eye witness heard footsteps on the pavement or in the grass? Did investigators ask Brenton where he got the gun? Brenton’s public defender attorneys went to the crime scene and re-enacted it as stated by the eye witness, and found that the distance based on the eye-witness’ testimony, was not logical.
In 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
After the case, the State Attorney’s Office launched a grand jury investigation into the conduct of the officers and prosecutors, while the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office began an internal affairs investigation. The grand jury investigation criticized the prosecutor and police for their handling of the case but found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The police disciplinary board sought the suspension of three officers and other penalties for two more, but their decision to suspend was later overturned.
The Butler case opened discussion about video taping of police interrogations. Although it would have been great had Brenton Butler not been wrongfully accused, his case should be used as an example for how the American justice can work when racial biases are not used to wrongfully convict, neither to set the guilty free.
In 2004, Butler wrote a book about his experience, entitled They Said It Was Murder. In an October 2011 interview with News4Jax, they reported that Brenton said, “ despite his story, he doesn’t think things at the sheriff’s office have changed.”
The full movie is about an hour and 48 minutes . Please watch it. You will not regret doing so.
Posted on 10/20/2013, in Cops Gone Wild, Trials & Cases, Videos and tagged 2dogsonly, Brenton Butler, corruption, Jacksonville, Murder on a Sunday Morning, They Said It Was Murder. Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.