by Kyle Swenson
Throughout the summer we’ve kept readers dialed-in to the fates of Destini and DeAsia Bronaugh, the teen sisters who tangled with Cleveland Police at a protest outside of Collinwood High School in May. The girls were subject to a rough arrest, and the entire incident was caught on tape by Scene’s favorite Marx-toting community organizers, Caleb Maupin and Adam Gluntz. The clip, below, was shown on media outlets across the city, stirring up talk of police brutality. After some uncertainty, county prosecutors went ahead and charged the two with felonies, and the younger girl — 17-year-old DeAsia — went on trial this week in juvenile court.
DeAsia was looking down the barrel at two felony counts of assault on a police officer. The proceedings went before Magistrate Jeffrey Ehrbar and were held in a dank, cramped courtroom of the Juvenile Justice center. Juvenile proceedings are usually closed to the public, but due to the high-profile nature of the case, the family asked and was granted an open trial. Flanked by her mother Tina and backed by a small group of supporters, DeAsia quietly sat at a desk in the courtroom throughout two days of testimony.
The trial only got as far as the state’s case. Key to the charges was the prosecution’s assertion that during the struggle with police DeAsia attempted to kick one of the officers in the face. The prosecution called school security guards and the arresting police officers on the stand to bolster the claim.
Well-known courtroom vet Terry Gilbert handled the defense. With his amped-up cross-examinations, he pretty much tapped danced over testimony of police; much of the back and forth focused on whether or not DeAsia actually intended to kick the officer or if her foot just happened to be dangling in the vicinity. Maupin’s video was repeatedly played in slow-motion. Things got wonky, like an extended bit on what may exactly constitute a “kick.”
By the time the state was finished, Gilbert made a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the prosecution failed to make its case against the girl. Ehrbar agreed and tossed the charges.
“ We’re exuberant,” Tina Bronaugh told Scene in the hallway after the trial. “We’re just so happy for our DeAsia. Now we have to worry about Destini.”
Destini, 19, goes on trial later this month.