Last June, local musician Juan Holladay was arrested by police in an incident that sparked allegations of excessive force and an internal investigaiton. Today, Holladay had his day in court, and was found guilty of resisting/obstructing an arrest, but not guilty of creating a public disturbance.
According to the prosecution, undertaken by Assistant District Attorney Lili Lopez, Holladay had barged into an ongoing arrest, handed fliers to a person police were interviewing and then cursed at officer. The prosecution relied on testimony from APD Officers Willie Carswell and Travis Dych. Carswell said he had felt threatened by the crowd (over 200 by Holladay’s estimate) that gathered to witness Holladay’s arrest and feared for his safety.
Attorney Keith Hanson’s defense posited that it was a lack of coordination that explained how the officers, both at or over 6’ tall and weighing over 200 lbs each, could fail to easily subdue the 5’9, 135 lb. Holladay. Holladay himself took the stand, claiming that he had thought the person he was handing a flier to wasn’t involved with what the police were doing, hadn’t been belligerent towards the officers and only cursed later — when he believed he was in danger of serious injury — and then not in a way that was directed at the police. Witness Christine Posner said she felt that the force used against Holladay was excessive, and that he didn’t seem to be resisting.
Judge Julie Kepple asserted that Holladay had intentionally put himself into the situation, and so was guilty of obstructing an arrest. However, she disagreed with the prosecution’s assertion that he’d caused a public disturbance, instead noting that the arrest itself was responsible for the crowd.
Holladay entered a successful plea for prayerful judgment, meaning he won’t face penalties or have the charge go on his record.