A Richmond judge dismissed all charges against a Colonial Heights man charged in a brawl with police at Shamrock the Block.
Video of the fight went viral, causing some to question whether police were too rough with Jason Dotson. However, Dotson was the one who ended up charged. He initially faced a charge of drunk in public and was later charged with felony assault on a law enforcement officer.
Click here to watch the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARUcC8L8Q84
In court, the assault on a police officer charge was reduced to obstruction of justice, but even still, after both sides presented their cases the judge sided with Dotson. In his questioning, Judge Eugene Cheek cited a credibility issue and the first amendment before dismissing all charges.
Defense attorney John Rockecharlie argues it is the beginning of cell phone video, which captured the attention of the city, that makes the case.
"There it was in black and white for all to see exactly what happened," Rockecharlie said of the video, which was shown in court Thursday.
Jason Dotson did not have any comment after the charges were dismissed, but described those first few seconds in an exclusive interview after his last court appearance.
"He touched me," Dotson recalled. "As he was saying 'get back' he kind of stuck his arm out. I didn't go towards him he just came and pushed me. He proceeded to hit me in the ribs and then that's when he grabbed my neck."
Rockecharlie maintained Dotson was allowed to question the officer's actions.
"It's age old law from the founding of the commonwealth that a person has a right to resist an unlawful arrest and that there was no lawful reason for the officer to put his hands on him in that fashion, so as he resisted the whole last half of that tape, he was doing so in self-defense," Rockecharlie argued.
Officer R.E. Davidson told the judge Dotson touched him first and he warned the 22-year-old to get back. Prosecutors say Davidson was doing what he had to do to keep the situation calm.
Ultimately the judge went back to the video saying Davidson's actions undermine his position in court.
The officer did not want to comment on camera after that ruling.
Right after the March incident, Richmond Police said they were conducting an internal investigation, which would include witness and officer interviews. We are still awaiting an update on that part of the process.
Had Dotson been convicted, he was facing up to a year behind bars for the obstruction charge.
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