Juror’s Pro-Cop, Anti-Black Racist Posts Go Unnoticed Before Trial for Virginia Officer


Screen shot of one of Juror No. 14’s Facebook posts. Image courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot.

A prosecutor in Norfolk, Virginia dropped the ball when he failed to weed out potential bias in his selection of jurors to serve in the court proceedings of a Norfolk police officer on trial for manslaughter.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, juror No. 14 swore that she’d never expressed an opinion about police officers or African-Americans while teams of lawyers and a judge determined whether she could serve as a juror in the manslaughter trial last month.

But her Facebook page – which prosecutors didn’t think to take a gander at – told a different story.

Among the many questionable posts on the unnamed juror’s social media were conspiracy theories about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Scrolling down further, Facebook posts from July and beyond displayed a number of racially charged headlines like:

  • OUTRAGEOUS: #BlackLivesMatter THUGS Meet With Obama Admin At The WHITE HOUSE To Organize THIS!
  • “Obama’s Ferguson Sellout,” an excerpt from Heather Mac Donald’s “The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order makes Everyone Less Safe.”
  • SICK:This Black Thug Viciously Attacks Older White Woman At Park. Obama Silent
  • BREAKING: 17 Black Thugs Arrested for Burning White Girl Alive … The MSM is silent

So why did prosecutors fail to execute the common procedure of checking a potential juror’s social media account for signs of bias? A Norfolk Commonwealth’s attorney spokeswoman said the practice isn’t something her office generally does for such cases – including the trial of Norfolk Officer Michael Edington Jr.

Edington was acquitted of manslaughter charges this month stemming from the shooting death of a mentally ill Black man named David Latham, 35. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Latham was reportedly armed with a knife at the time of the deadly shooting, which is why the officer argued his use of force was justified.

Because Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood failed to thoroughly research the jury pool (including juror’s social media activity), Juror No. 14 was allowed to serve on the jury board despite her inflammatory, racially biased posts. A five-minute perusal of her Facebook page would have easily raised red flags for the prosecution.

Another screen shot of one of Juror No. 14's Facebook posts. Image courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot.

Another screen shot of one of Juror No. 14’s Facebook posts. Image courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot.

Almost no one knew of Juror No 14’s posts until after she was permitted to sit in on the two-week trial and contribute to the 11-hour deliberation that resulted in Edington’s acquittal, the publication reports.

“She definitely has an affinity toward police,” said Jeff Frederick, director of the National Legal Research Group’s jury research services division. “She would be sympathetic toward the defense in this case. Something should’ve been done.”

Clerk George Schaefer said attorneys on both sides had very little time to research jurors, as they received the list of names the Friday before Edington’s trial — giving them only three days to review prospective jury members.

For Frederick, that’s still no excuse.

“I’m just left dumbfounded,” he said. “If you have people expressing opinions in an open forum that could have an impact on your case and you choose to ignore it, you’re not doing your client any favors.”

According to the Virginian-Pilot, another one of the Edington jurors said No. 14 was quiet and didn’t offer many opinions during deliberation. He noted she wasn’t the one spearheading efforts to get the officer acquitted.

“Her comments didn’t change anyone’s vote,” the unidentified juror said. “I’m satisfied justice was served.”

However, his sentiments changed after he was informed of No. 14’s social media posts.

“Now that I’m aware of this … I’m a little surprised she wasn’t weeded out,” he told the publication.

Even after Edington was acquitted, Juror No. 14 went home and continued publishing politically charged messages to her Facebook page, the publication reports. One featured a photo with an American flag background. Red, white and blue text filled the frame and read: “America should be ashamed of how we treat cops.”

Back to top