On May 21st, Antwine Hunter was assaulted by an officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and slammed onto the ground outside a pizza place near downtown Las Vegas. Not long after, he found himself inside a cell at the Clark County Detention Center with the leg braces he had worn since being paralyzed in a drive-by shooting 17 years ago in California at the age of twelve having been confiscated.
Initially, he was unable to move without the braces and not much better off once he was given a cheap, undersized, and uncomfortable wheelchair to use. After being informed that he was arrested on a warrant for burglary and larceny charges, Hunter couldn’t fathom how he could be wanted for those crimes. The confusion deepened when he was told that he was being accused of running into a UPS driver’s truck, grabbing his cell phone and scanner, and then escaping by running away.
Obviously, someone who is paralyzed from the waist down couldn’t have ran into and then away from the truck. So, logic would tell you that Hunter wasn’t the man who really committed that crime. Unfortunately for him though, nobody within the LVMPD stopped to actually use logic or anything even remotely close to it.
Not the officer who sadistically threw him to the ground during the arrest. Not the detectives who issued the warrant and then never bothered to even interview him after he was arrested. (In fact, in the video embedded below Hunter states that when he tried to explain to an officer that was reading the description of the charges and the details of the allegations against him that it couldn’t have been him, he was told to “shut up.”) Not even the judge who ordered him held on a $20,000 bail, which was too high for him to pay.
Instead, Hunter suffered for two weeks in jail before he finally went before Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman to face the charges. Amazingly, once a jail guard wheeled Hunter into the courtroom everyone, including the judge, the prosecutor, and the UPS driver whose property was stolen, instantly knew he wasn’t the droid they should have been looking for.
Herbert Hutson, the UPS driver immediately informed Prosecutor Elana Graham that Hunter wasn’t the person who had robbed him. Graham quickly realized, for what should have been obvious reasons that Hunter wasn’t even capable of being the one responsible for committing the crime and Judge Goodman dismissed the case. Meanwhile, the unnamed arresting officer never even bothered to show up for court and Metro had no comment when asked about the case by the Las Vegas Review Journal.
So, how did it get to the point that Hunter was left to suffer for two weeks in jail without proper medical care or the necessary accommodations for his disability, in spite of being completely innocent and very obviously not even being physically capable of having committed the crime he stood (no pun intended) accused of? For some reason, Hunter was included within a photo lineup that was presented to the UPS driver. Even more inexplicably, when Hutson picked him out as the man he believed stole his equipment, instead of explaining that it couldn’t have been him since he couldn’t actually run, detectives simply issued a warrant for his arrest and sent an officer out to (violently) arrest him.
Prosecutor Graham called the dismissal, “a totally fair resolution.” – Because those two weeks of his life and the physical hardships inflicted upon him during his time in jail don’t really count. She also made sure to caution everybody that just because the charges were (finally) dismissed, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a criminal, just that he wasn’t THAT criminal. – Because dragging the reputation of the people accused of crimes through the mud, even if they are shown to be innocent, is kind of a tradition among prosecutors and the police in Las Vegas. You’ve gotta seize every opportunity you get, especially when someone has some old convictions for victimless crimes (that he maintains involved the use of marijuana for the pain caused by the injuries that left him severely disabled).
For his part, Judge Goodman stopped short of throwing the case out altogether. Instead, he ruled that those detectives who did such a great job the first time and/or the prosecutors could refile the charges against Hunter if some sort of evidence surfaced that he was actually involved in the robbery. So, for instance, if it comes out that Hunter has just been faking that he is a paraplegic since 1999 as part of an elaborate ruse to eventually steal a cell phone and UPS code scanner, they can send someone back down to bodyslam him again.
Meanwhile, Roy Nelson, the defense attorney that represented Hunter, stated that his client “could pursue litigation against the police,” as well he should. The only thing more obvious in this case than the incompetence and shitty job pretty much everyone involved did, is the fact that the taxpayers of Clark County, Nevada are going to have to pay a pretty penny to bail Metro out on this one.
Close behind those two factors in obviousness is the certainty that none of those people that completely screwed up this case, then abused and traumatized a completely innocent man, will suffer any sort of consequences, whatsoever. There’s no shortage of precedent for that eventuality throughout the history of Las Vegas area police.