Parker interpreted that as a command to “beat him up,” the prosecutor said.
Robinson was misunderstood, said defense co-counsel William McKenney.
“There will be no evidence Sgt. Robinson told them to beat (these suspects),” he told jurors.
'Breath Knocked Out'
The brazen attack, which occurred in the afternoon during a shift change, was witnessed by Officer Jesse LeBlanc, who reported it to his supervisor, Sgt. Thad Golden.
LeBlanc was “heartbroken” by what he saw, Golden testified Thursday. “He could hear the breath being knocked out of the kid.”
An investigation was opened immediately. Parker and Norwood were separated. Robinson, acting beyond his rank and violating protocol, said Golden, questioned whether LeBlanc was telling the truth. LeBlanc testified he eventually resigned from the DeKalb force because of the backlash he received after reporting the beatings.
Meanwhile, Robinson huddled with Parker, telling him he “has his back,” Thomas said. The state alleges Robinson instructed Parker to tell internal affairs that Williams, the suspect, provoked the beating by spitting on the officers. Parker, according to prosecutors, then texted Norwood with their new story.
In his opening statement, McKenney said Robinson was scapegoated by two “rogue officers” who fingered their commanding officer in order to evade prison.
Parker and Norwood pleaded guilty last month to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony. The two officers received identical sentences of 10 years probation and were ordered to perform 200 hours of community service work.
Robinson, a 15-year law enforcement veteran, is charged with 10 felonies, including aggravated assault and battery, in a 15-count indictment. He faces a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison.
'No Complaints Made'
Initially, Robinson's two accusers protected their supervisor, but two months later, Norwood fingered Robinson in an interview with investigators from the DeKalb district attorney’s office.
“(Williams) never did anything to us,” said Thomas, quoting Norwood. “We beat him because we were told to beat him by Sgt. Robinson because he was being disrespectful.”
It was not the first time, Norwood said. He told prosecutors about a 2010 incident involving three teens, ages 15 and 16, suspected in a car theft. Norwood said he and Parker, along with another officer, were ordered to handcuff the teens and beat them.
“There’s no medicals, no juvenile intake,” McKenney said. “So basically you’re going to have to take their word. No complaints were made by their parents or them.”