Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in federal District Court at Pine Bluff in the case of a boy who was allegedly beaten while being held at the juvenile detention center on April 18, 2011.
Chadarious Avery, now 15, and his mother, Karen Walls, have sued Roderick Shelby, who was chief of staff for Juvenile Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr., and a part-time sheriff’s deputy. The suit alleges Shelby beat Avery while escorting him back to the detention center part of the building after an appearance in court.
The lawsuit later added Sheriff Gerald Robinson because Robinson is in charge of the detention center and Robinson is alleged to have failed to train and properly equip Shelby and other probation officers.
Earlier this week, attorney Jason Boyeskie of Fayetteville, who is representing Avery and Walls, filed motions asking the court to exclude any testimony about Avery’s disciplinary problems in school and alleged gang affiliation.
On Thursday, Pine Bluff attorney Gene McKissic filed legal documents seeking to have that testimony included, saying it “would be misleading a jury not to be aware that plaintiff Chadarious Avery has a history of fighting and rebellion against any authority and to portray him as an innocent 14-year-old incapable of serious violence.”
McKissic said Avery had established a “clear habit or practice of being aggressive and fighting when angry or mad. He admitted he was angry on the morning of April 18, 2011, while in court. Avery acknowledged in his deposition that, ‘I was mad’ and ‘I didn’t care.’ He stood up at counsel table and began to direct vile profanity at his appointed counsel, telling him ‘—— you,’ and became so disruptive he had to be removed from court.”
McKissic said Avery was suspended from school “multiple times, primarily for fighting. In one instance, he punched out his girlfriend and continued punching her until a school teacher intervened.”
Regarding Avery’s alleged gang affiliation, McKissic said Avery admitted he was a member of the “Crips” and held the position of “BG” or Baby Gangster.
“To qualify as a Baby Gangster, one was required to fight all the time, and fight anyone, including a grown man or police officer,” McKissic said in the court filing. “Avery further testified that he did not ‘show respect’ for Shelby’s position or authority for Shelby as a court employee because ‘I was mad.’”
McKissic said Walls testified that Avery had been suspended from school repeatedly for fighting, and blamed his fighting on anger and “just being upset for no reason.”
Responding to McKissic’s filing, Boyeskie again asked the court to prohibit testimony about Avery’s gang affiliation, saying that Shelby was seeking to use that testimony to prove prior conduct by Avery and is not supported by the evidence in the case, making it inadmissible.
Judge Kristine Baker has instructed attorneys for both sides to be in the courtroom by 9 a.m. Monday and she would take the motions by McKissic and Boyeskie “under advisement.”
Baker previously denied motions by Robinson and Shelby for summary judgment in their official capacities and for Robinson in his individual capacity, saying there were still “issues of fact to be decided by the jury.”
Avery and Walls are seeking punitive and compensatory damages, attorney fees and court costs.