Iowa judge tosses felonies against Black Lives Matter leader

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A judge has dismissed nine counts against a Black Lives Matter executive in Iowa, accused of shining a laser pointer in the eyes of police officers during a protest in August .

Judge Paul Miller ruled on Thursday that the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office violated Matè Farrakhan Muhammad’s right to a speedy trial by waiting 46 days after his arrest to file an official impeachment document, which was a day more than the law allows.

Miller ruled six aggravated assaults were attributable to Muhammad related to the same allegations can continue as he has never been arrested against them and therefore they were filed on time.

Muhammad, a leader of the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement, told reporters Thursday that he had recently changed his name from Matthew Bruce, the name he used when arrested. This change is not reflected in court documents.

Prosecutors say Muhammad shone the laser in the eyes of several University of Iowa police officers during a protest on August 31 in Iowa City. The officers reportedly suffered temporary vision loss, headaches and other health problems as a result. He was arrested that night.

To convict him on the other charges, prosecutors will have to show that he intended to inflict serious injury on the police when he pointed a laser at them.

Muhammad’s lawyer Aaron Marr Page said on Friday he was grateful the charges were dismissed, saying young people protesting for civil rights should not face such harsh charges. But he said he was struck by his client’s continued lawsuit.

“I am taken aback by the ambition of this case and what the government must now prove if it is to follow through on its commitment to jail Matt Bruce for protesting,” he said, noting that he did not was not aware of Muhammad’s name change. . “I can’t wait to learn more about the government evidence.”

Judge Miller has been criticized on social media for approving a judgment delayed last month for a white man who walked through a crowd at another protest in August against racial injustice. The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office reached a deal that resulted in no jail time and three years probation for Michael Stepanek, 45, who told police he walked through the crowd because ‘he thought the protesters needed a “change of attitude”.

A victim who cooperated with prosecutors did not ask for a jail term, saying she feared this would only further radicalize Stepanek and not rehabilitate him. But she argued that the harsher treatment of Muhammad by prosecutors showed a double standard.

Muhammad, 25, still faces a criminal mischief charge in Polk County due to damage he and others allegedly caused to a police car in June during a protest outside a Hy-Vee grocery store in Monks. He has pleaded not guilty to this charge and is awaiting trial.

He and other activists on Thursday criticized Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ plans to increase sentences for those who riot or harass police and cut state funding for cities that vote to cut police budgets. They said the plans targeted their members and would exacerbate existing inequalities.

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