May 18, 2017 (San Diego) Judge Laura Halgren agreed to a small continuance in the Robert Branch Trial. Jury Selection is set for May 31. The trial is expected to last over the course of the first two weeks of June. She expects this case will go to the Jury on June 14.
This case involves Robert Branch, a young man who was followed by then San Diego Sheriffs detective Paul Ward. The detective followed Branch on I-8 after what was allegedly aggressive driving on the part of Branch. They exited into Lamda Drive in San Diego, where the confrontation was witnessed. This was on May 4, 2015.
Ward used force after Branch refused to comply, and Branch recorded the event on his cellphone. The video is here.
Judge Halgren found good cause to give the People this short continuance on the trial. It was due to issues with discovery.
Before the hearing Reporting San Diego had a chance to speak with Reverend Shane Harris, president of the National Action Network San Diego and Imperial County chapter. He pointed out that he was joined by Richard Olango, the father of Alfred Olandgo who died in El Cajon in 2016, as well as community members. They numbered about 10.
He said they were at the Court House “to stand with Robert Branch.” He added that Branch filed a civil lawsuit after the events. We will add that originally the District Attorney was not going to file charges. They did after that civil lawsuit was filed in Federal Court. According to Harris, the District Attorney pressed charges “to quiet his civil suit, and put him in some kind of criminality.”
After the judge delayed the proceeding until the 31st, Harris theorized that “they are continuing this case (the DA) because they are not prepared. I think they are trying to dig deeper, and trying to paint his credibility in a certain type of way.”
He added that this is not about the defense lawyer (March Kohnen) since they are prepared. It is fully about the District Attorney’s office who are trying to defend the behavior of one of a now retired San Diego Sheriff’s Detective.
Richard Olango told Reporting San Diego outside, that this is about police training, which in his view is lacking. It is also about a culture that needs to be broken. This is a culture where officers are protected by police chiefs, police unions, district attorneys, and mayors. He also showed us very graphic photos of police abuse in Uganda. As he put it, this is a global matter.
The photos that Olango showed us are very graphic and show evidence of torture. What he is talking about has been documented by Amnesty International as well. Amnesty International details stories from Mexico, Uzbekistan, and Nigeria in this report, among others. They are not the only ones.
What Olango wants to see is justice, but also a change in how police are trained.