Sentencing of Brian Chesley

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Upon the recommendation of Assistant State’s
Attorney Rob Scales, Judge John R. Kennedy
agreed to a sentence of 100 hours community
service for Brian Chesley. Chesley was convicted
by an all-white jury of obstructing and
resisting a peace officer. On March 30, 2007,
he was stopped by Champaign in Frederick
Douglass Park after leaving the gymnasium,
attacked by three officers, pepper sprayed,
and sent to the hospital.
At the hearing Friday morning, May 9,
2008, Chesley’s Attorneys Bob Kirchner and
Ruth Wyman submitted a post-trial motion
to overturn the guilty verdict. Among several
errors cited, they questioned the basis of
the stop, claiming that Champaign police
officer Andre Davis was not authorized to
stop Chesley, and that doing so was “selective
enforcement of the law.”
Prosecutor Scales said that Davis did
have a “reasonable and articulable suspicion”
to stop Chesley because the park was
closed at dusk. He said that by Defense
Attorney Wyman’s explanation, officers
could not stop anybody. He gave the example
that if police saw someone breaking a
car window, they could not question that
individual whether the car was theirs or not.
Scales also said there was no evidence
that Chesley was stopped solely because he
was African American. If the judge ruled that
it was, it would mean officers could never
stop individuals in African American neighborhoods
because it could be a result of race.
Of course, Chesley was not breaking
any car windows that night, but simply
walking his eight year-old friend home
after playing basketball. Most likely, he
would not have faced this situation if he
was a white youth walking in a white
Judge Kennedy, who throughout the
trial proceedings had shot down almost all
of the defense’s challenges, denied the
post-trial motion.
During sentencing, Brian Chesley’s
mother testified to her son’s good character,
and Chesley himself gave a statement.
He was given 100 hours community service,
which has to be completed in ten
months, and has to pay court fines.
Attorney Kirchner says he plans to
appeal the case.
For a full account of the trial see “Three
Cops Versus An Entire Community” at:

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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