Police brutality charges leveled at council meeting

SAN BERNARDINO - A throng of angry residents and a distraught mother used Monday's City Council meeting as their megaphone to accuse police of brutality in breaking up a candlelight vigil the night before.

On Sunday night, community members said, more than a dozen police busted up a peaceful curbside service for Charles Marshall, 22, who was gunned down in a Westside apartment complex during the early morning hours of Saturday.

"It was a peaceful vigil," said Deiedra Marshall, the dead man's sister.

"The police came looking for trouble, they barged in people's houses, took people away, and were knocking down anybody who asked questions," Marshall said.

According to numerous speakers, including the dead man's mother, police parked their cars on an adjacent block before marching into the 1800 block of Bradley Court and using fists, nightsticks and pepper spray before hauling five or six people off to jail. One of the detained, said Marshall's mother, Judy Little, was the dead man's 16-year-old brother.

Other witnesses painted a generally consistent picture: 50 to 60 people gathered on the street in the predominately black neighborhood. Music was playing and candles marked where Marshall
was killed. Police arrived, and tensions quickly escalated.

Police Chief Michael Billdt said an investigation into the incident would be conducted, and that he could not comment further because it was a personnel matter.

Council members listened as residents spoke in often impassioned, angry tones. They had differing reactions.

"There were a lot of allegations made," said Councilman Neil Derry after the meeting. "I don't know that any of them are true or false."

Councilman Rikke Van Johnson, whose 6th Ward encompasses the Westside enclave where the incident took place, said he was troubled by the testimony.

"You had a lot of people telling the same story," Johnson said after the meeting.

Residents were unanimous in lauding Marshall's character Monday. They said he was killed in a case of mistaken identity in front of his apartment. Moments before he was shot about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, other shots rang out in the neighborhood and Marshall took his young daughter inside to safety.

"He wasn't involved in gangs or drugs, he was just a peaceful boy," said his aunt Trina Newman.

After the meeting, Mayor Pat Morris approached Little and embraced her.

Morris told the grieving mother he was praying for her and that a thorough investigation into Sunday's incident would be conducted. Morris also told Little she was "courageous" for coming to the meeting and speaking.

"I'm deeply distressed by the reports you made today," Morris told Little before hugging her.

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