Frank Q. Jackson, Mayor Frank Jackson's grandson.
The 23-year-old grandson of Mayor Frank Jackson, Frank Q. Jackson, pleaded guilty Wednesday to drastically reduced charges stemming from a violent encounter in June. In that incident, he choked and punched an 18-year-old woman while in a vehicle and then beat her with a truck hitch.
In the deal, the younger Jackson agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. He has received a sentence of 18 months probation. Jackson managed to escape the harsher felonious assault charge and an abduction charge, for which he faced up to eight years in prison. Two counts of failure to comply had been dropped before the trial began this week.
Prosecutor Michael O'Malley's office, in comments to cleveland.com
, said that after testimony from the woman, Delilah Swift, who claimed Jackson attacked her, they weren't convinced they could obtain a felonious assault conviction. They agreed to the plea deal at the request of Jackson's attorney Jeffrey Saffold and characterized the result as a "fair and equitable resolution."
Saffold's comments after the deal (which of course were in his client's best interest) were remarkable in the sense that they described the trial and its results in terms that are exactly opposed to prevailing sentiment.
He said that the younger Jackson had initially been overcharged
because of "public pressure." Though he didn't elaborate, he likely was referring to the uproar in the wake of Adam Ferrise's reporting, which showed that the younger Jackson's crimes had been entirely ignored by city prosecutors. Everyone recognized the crimes instantly as felonious, but the city had not passed the case along to the county, which is protocol.
The picture that emerged to all but Saffold was that Frank Q. Jackson had received especially lenient
treatment because of his familial relationship with the Mayor. Indeed, in a lawsuit filed
against Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams in November, the mother of a murder victim — whose death was linked to Frank Q. Jackson — alleged that Mayor Jackson's repeated interference in the prosecution of his grandson and great-grandson caused them and their affiliates to believe that they were "above the law."
But according to Saffold, this "terrible case would have never have been brought were it not for who his grandfather is. It’s a shame we had to go through all of this.” Anyone else who choked a young woman, punched her in the face, dragged her from a vehicle and then beat her with a truck hitch would have had a much fairer shake, in Saffold's view.
In lengthy cross-examination of Swift, who is now 19, Saffold tried to characterize her as the aggressor in what was, by multiple accounts, a volatile long-term relationship. He got Swift to admit that she had no visible injuries from the truck hitch beating and that as Frank dragged her across a field near the CMHA housing complex, she was clutching the leg of his pants, refusing to let go.
In additional evidence, Saffold played Instagram videos that showed Swift throwing juice on Frank Q. Jackson's current girlfriend, who is pregnant with Jackson's child. Swift explained the video by saying she had been challenged to a fight at the Mayor's house. Saffold also showed messages between Swift and Jackson which showed that Swift still had a romantic interest in him after the beating.
Assistant county prosecutor Brad Meyer maintained, correctly, that this evidence was hardly relevant to the violent attack which took place on June 10. Though Swift had admitted to Saffold that she was not a "passive" participant in being assaulted, she confirmed to Meyer that it was Jackson who threw the first punch. It was Jackson who was the aggressor. It was Jackson who had the weapon.
The attack, which Swift said began for "no reason," should recall the violent (and indeed, felonious) assault by former prosecutor Lance Mason of his then-wife Aisha Fraser, whom he would later violently murder after he was released early from prison and immediately given a job in the Frank Jackson administration.
Mason was driving on that day in August, 2014, and his two children were in the back seat. Aisha Fraser was in the passenger seat. Mason slammed on the brakes and began striking Fraser repeatedly in the face. He choked her and smashed her head against the dashboard, breaking her orbital bone, before kicking her out of the car.
In Jackson's case, he was driving a truck while Swift was in the back. They were parked at a gas station when Jackson turned around to punch Swift in the face. Then he moved to the backseat to more effectively choke her. Then, after driving Swift and her friend to the Outhwaite Homes housing complex, he dragged her out of the car and struck her with a truck hitch.
The Mayor was in the courtroom during the proceedings, but did not address the media after Wednesday's deal. “I’m happy for my grandson,” is all he said.
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