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June 13, 2003     Cape Gazette
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June 13, 2003

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10 - CAPE GAZETI, Friday, June 13 - June 19, 2003 U.S. Appeals Court finds Dewey officer violated coach's fights By Jim Cresson A Third Circuit Court of Ap- peals ruled, June 5, that Dewey Beach police Sgt. Erik Campbell did not have reasonable suspicion to detain a basketball coach for 40 minutes before releasing him with- out charges, Dec. 29, 2000. The opinion rendered by a panel of three judges with the U.S. Dis- trict Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed an April 2001 District Court jury decision that found Campbell had not violated former William Penn High School basketball coach Steven G. John- son's constitutional or civil rights Miller Continued from page 9 However, administrators upheld the suspension. The victim told police Miller followed the bus, May 15, after his children had been dropped off at home. According to the::affi davit, the bus driver confirmed one of the children advised him the bus was being followed. "[The driver] stated he turned left on Robinsonville Road and the vehicle turned left; he slowed the bus, the vehicle would also slow. [The driver] stated at this point he became concerned and turned into when he detained him. Johnson's attorney Victor F. Battaglia Jr. said after the Court of Appeals ruling: 'q'he court really did a wonderful job of explaining the two-hour detention law, which figured very prominently in this ease. The ruling will be very help- ful to police officers around the state and nation." Campbell's attorney Norman Brooks Jr. had successfully con- vinced a jury of eight in 2001 that Campbell had reasonable suspi- cion to hold Johnson until he ran an identification cheek on the coach and found out what brought to follow the bus so he con- tacted 911." A trooper then intercept- ed Miller so he did not see where the driv- er dropped off the ,victim's MILLER chiidrtn:T: -i. trooper who intercepted Miller re- ported "Miller was very argumen- tative and defensive." Miller al- legedly told the trooper he was following the bus because he was considering becoming a bus driv- er. The victim repoaed Miller then developments he normally didn't went to his place of business and him to a quiet street in Dewey af- ter dark. Brooks said he and Campbell have 90 days to decide whether to appeal the Court of Ap- peals ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court or to file for a retrial in the Third District Court. "The odds are against the Supreme Court hearing this, but there are nuances to this case that affect every police officer in America, so it's possible they would want to hear it." The case arose after Johnson's William Penn High School basket- ball team had lost its first Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament to school administrators about the suspension. The victim replied he thought it was unfair for his son to be reprimanded and Miller's son not to be likewise disciplined. The two men engaged in a ver- bal argument that apparently esca- lated, and the victim told police Miller said: "The retarded kid shouldn't be on the bus anyway," states the affidavit. The victim told police Miller willingly left the property but returned a short while later from another point of entrance. Miller was released on $300 unsecured bond, pending further court action. "There is no story," said Miller. "There is no incident. I don't have anything to say." Miller's attorney was un- game in 2000. Johnson took his team back to their rooms Sea Esta III motel on Rodney Street in Dewey Beach following the lost game. He left team members and his assistant coach in the school van and went into the motel lobby to find a newspaper. While in the lobby, night clerk Christine Price, a former Delaware State Police of- fleer, said he appeared to be agitat- ed. Price. had been robbed by two black men two weeks earlier and was suspicious about Johnson, an African-American. According to the facts presented during both the jury trial and the appeal, Price called her husband to express her concern about the man in the lobby, and her husband called Dewey Beach police. Campbell answered the call and responded, walking 100 feet from the station to where the van was parked in front of the motel. When he arrived at the van, he asked Johnson to roll down the window, which Johnson did not do. When Campbell asked again, Johnson rolled the window down part way, but refused to provide his identifi- cation. Instead, he uttered an ob- scenity. Campbell then &old John- son he was under arrest for disor- derly conduct, placed the coach in handcuffs and walked him back to the police station where Johnson finally produced his identification and told Campbell who he was and why he was parked at the motel. Campbell then released the coach without charges. Within weeks, Johnson filed a federal racial discrimination charge against Dewey Beach, Campbell, the motel and its clerk. The case went to trial in Wilming- ton, April 2, 2001. Sea Esta HI mo- tel and Price both settled out of Continued on page 15 Thistles Gallery of Limited Edition Graphics, original oils, art glass & jewelry. Custom framing. 203 2nd. St. 644-2323 Lewes, De Open Daily drive in, and the vehicle continue asked the victim why he had gone available for comment. 30 year fixed/zero points H,00sO, Exedenee, Va/ae MERIT I00IORTGAGE