Black Alabama Judge Refuses to Step Down In Trail of White Officer Who Killed an Unarmed Black Man

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Montgomery Judge Greg Griffin (left) is presiding over the case of Officer Aaron Smith, who fatally shot unarmed Black man Greg Gunn, 59. (Images courtesy of WSFA)

UPDATE: Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin has denied a defense request to recuse himself from the trail of the white Alabama cop who killed Black man Gregory Gunn.

Earlier this week, attorney’s for Montgomery officer Aaron Smith filed a motion asking that Griffin step down from the trial because of Facebook posts he published in the wake of Gunn’s death.

Griffin wrote the posts weeks after Smith was charged with the Black man’s murder, but before he was assigned to hear the case

ORIGINAL STORY:

A white Alabama officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed Black man is asking that the Black judge hearing the case recuse himself.

Attorneys for Montgomery Police Department Officer Aaron Smith made the request Monday, May 15, pointing to two Facebook posts published by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin just weeks after the high-profile murder case of Gregory Gunn, according to local station WSFA.

Smith was charged with Gunn’s death just days after gunning down the Alabama man during an early-morning patrol in February of last year. The officer reported seeing the “suspicious” 59-year-old roaming a nearby neighborhood, after which he engaged him and ultimately shot him after a brief struggle.

In their motion, defense attorneys Mickey McDermott and Roianne Conner included Facebook posts by Griffin where he wrote about being stopped by Montgomery police because he was Black and taking a walk down the street. He also talked about meeting with a top official at the MPD to talk about the incident.

The posts came a matter of weeks after Smith was charged with murder.

McDermott and Conner argued that the incident described in Griffin’s posts were too similar to what happened to Gunn last year, raising questions about his impartiality in Smith’s case.

“This honorable Court was so enraged by this incident that it wrote several comments pertaining to the same on a social media site proclaiming its disgust with the Montgomery Police Department due to its alleged unfair and unjust stop of your honor while simply walking through his own neighborhood,” their motion read.

McDermott also cited the second Cannon of Judicial Ethics, which states that a “judge should at all times maintain the decorum and temperance befitting his office and should avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the judicial office into disrepute.”

Griffin is expected to consider the request at a hearing scheduled for Thursday, May 18.

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