|Victor Urbaez with reporters|
LITTLE FALLS – Youth sports coach Wayne Harper testified Wednesday that he was not rude or disrespectful when he called the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office last year seeking information about the fatal police shooting of Garfield teen Malik Williams.
“I do not feel I was being harassing in any way, size, shape or form,” said Harper.
The trial resumed Wednesday after a four-month hiatus with Harper’s attorney, Victor Urbaez, presenting his defense. If convicted of the petty disorderly persons offense, the maximum punishment Harper could receive is 30 days in jail.
After making the three calls, Harper said he was asked to come to Garfield police headquarters, where he was questioned as to why he called the Prosecutor’s Office after being warned he would be charged for doing so.
His reason, he said, was because he had not had a chance to ask his question.
The telephone calls came at a particularly charged time. Activists and Garfield city leaders were openly frustrated about the perceived lack of information coming from law enforcement about the shooting of Williams, who was killed on Dec. 10, 2011, after he fled Garfield police headquarters. Authorities have said that Garfield and Bergen County Police officers found him hiding in a residential garage and fatally shot the 19-year-old after he came toward them holding a claw hammer and metal handsaw.
The trial will resume on March 13, when DeDio and Urbaez are expected to make their closing arguments.
Read the whole story here->
For more background information on the case, read here->
where it says:
LITTLE FALLS — A longtime Garfield youth coach who was active in protests following the fatal police shooting of a city teen went on trial Tuesday for allegedly making harassing telephone calls to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli demanding information about the investigation into the shooting.
The coach, Wayne Harper, “demanded to know the status of the case,” Molinelli testified. “He demanded to know when justice was going to be done.”
About 10 people came out to support Harper on Tuesday, including Mayor Joseph Delaney and Councilman Frank Calandriello of Garfield, and Pastor Arthur Bryant of Friendship Baptist Church in Garfield. Harper said the men are expected to testify on his behalf as character witnesses.
The calls came at a particularly charged time in the case. Protests were still being regularly held in Garfield, and activists and city leaders were openly frustrated with what they perceived to be a lack of information about the case from law enforcement.
“He would not accept that,” Molinelli said. “He continued to ask almost the same question over and over.”
Finally, Molinelli said he told Harper, “If you call again, sir, we will charge you.”
Harper’s attorney, Victor Urbaez, asked Molinelli what information the public had been entitled to about the case. He also attempted to argue that Harper had called Molinelli because he was frustrated by the lack of information that had been released to the public about Williams’ death.
“In a situation like this, wouldn’t it be expected for citizens to feel a certain way, to act a certain way? For someone to be persistent?” Urbaez asked.
See video of one of the protests here->