Day 2: ‘No Drugs to Flush,' Witness Says | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Day 2: ‘No Drugs to Flush,' Witness Says

Lawrence Cooper Jr., who was the first witness for the prosecution in Mayor Frank Melton's felony trial, said the incident began when he heard people outside the duplex say, "The folks are coming," which is code for the police. Alexander asked him how Evans "Bubba" Welch reacted. Cooper said that Welch went to the front door and looked out.

"Did he run to the bathroom and flush anything?" Alexander asked.

"No," Cooper replied. "There wasn't nothing to flush."

Cooper, who said he lives about seven houses down from 1305 Ridgeway, identified all three defendants at being present the night of Aug. 26. He said he was a frequent guest of Welch's before the Ridgeway incident.

He went on to describe how he heard a loud bang from the back of the duplex, where the back door was always locked. Then, a man with "a gun and a flashlight" came into the living room and started shouting. Cooper said the man, whom he identified as Wright, never identified himself as police or presented a search warrant. Moreover, he said that he never saw police search the house for drugs or bring in drug-sniffing dogs.

He said that Melton was outside, and told him, "'Don't let me catch you over here again. If I catch you over here again, I'm throwing your ass in jail.'"

Cooper then described how "a bunch of boys" stepped off the Mobile Command Center, and Melton "was speaking to them."

He said that Melton used a large stick to smash in four windows on the side and two in front, when Melton cut his hand. He said that Melton "motioned to" the youths and ordered them inside the duplex with sledgehammers. One of the youths said, "'We're Wood Street in here tearing up the Virden Addition,'" Cooper said.

After the first visit, Welch and Cooper went back inside to salvage "stuff that wasn't tore up." He described smashed television, a smashed radio, a destroyed couch and paint flung all over the kitchen.

When Melton et al. returned, Cooper said Melton's hand was bandaged and they had "three or four" more young men to help them smash the house further. He said that Recio helped tear down the front wall of the house. Recio said, "'I'll show you how to do it,'" Cooper testified.

On cross-examination, Melton attorney Dale Danks asked how Cooper is employed. Cooper said he is a mechanic who works for himself.

"How do you get your business?" Danks asked.

Cooper said it was by word of mouth, and he acknowledged that he did not have a shop, saying that he worked in his yard or at others' properties.

Danks started to ask him if he was "certified," but prosecutors objected that what Cooper did for a living was irrelevent. Webster sustained.

Cooper admitted that he had seen crack in the house and that he knew the house had a "reputation" as being a crackhouse. He had never seen Tammy Callahan, who will testify for the defense, in the house. He said that he had seen next-door neighbor Yolanda Allen in the house, "but she doesn't hang out."

Cooper admitted to seeing raids in the neighborhood before, and he said that he had never been arrested. When Danks asked if others had been arrested there, prosecutors objected, and Webster sustained.

Danks suggested that Melton had told Welch that he should go back to stay with his parents, and Cooper protested that Welch had been trying to gather up clothes and other salvageable items before Melton's second visit that night, when police arrested Welch.

Robert Smith, who is an attorney for Wright, tried to get Cooper to admit that "folks are coming" was a code designed to give warning to drug dealers, but objections from the prosecution ended that line of questioning.

On redirect, Alexander asked Cooper to show his hands to the jury. "What's that on your hands?" he asked. Cooper said it was oil. "Why do you have oil on your hands?" Alexander asked. It was from working on cars, Cooper replied. "Are you a certified mechanic?" Alexander asked.

"Certified enough for people in the neighborhood," Cooper answered, eliciting laughter from the audience.

"Even if not for him?" Alexander added, pointing toward Danks.

Cooper said that although he had seen other raids before Aug. 26, it was "totally different" than other nights.

Alexander then asked how close Cooper was standing to Melton. When Cooper said it was about four feet, Alexander asked him if he had smelled anything on Melton's breath.

The defense immediately objected and called for a mis-trial. Webster granted the objection, warning Alexander that his question was "inappropriate, at least for redirect," but refused to grant a mis-trial. He directed the jury to disregard Alexander's question.

Cooper said that the only "real" police car that night left after officers spoke to Melton.

Previous Comments

ID
127519
Comment

Does Lewis not look like he won't speak unless Melton and them allow him too? He sounds stupid by not answering questions he should easily answer about police procedures being the Training Commander!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T13:16:04-06:00
ID
127520
Comment

Lewis is going down

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T13:17:14-06:00
ID
127521
Comment

So WLBT knew about this THE NIGHT IT HAPPENED! Scum media!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T13:18:37-06:00
ID
127522
Comment

Yeah, he's not looking good.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T13:19:08-06:00
ID
127523
Comment

He looks like a big goofball, is what he looks like.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2007-04-24T13:20:15-06:00
ID
127524
Comment

The fix is in!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T13:20:57-06:00
ID
127525
Comment

Did they say WLBT knew about the duplex that night, Pike? (My stream is inconsistent; back in the office now.) If so, that would make it seem like they didn't plan to report it until they heard Adam was on it (like it seems like happened with the Ledger). That would explain why they were scrambling late in the week to get the story out, presumably before we did. Which they didn't, of course. It's bad enough for outlets not to have the enterprise to get the stories in the first place; it's another issue to sit on them. I sure hope that isn't the case with WLBT, too.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T13:25:12-06:00
ID
127526
Comment

Whats with the Testimony "not in the presence of the jury"? Whats its puspose?

Author
guy_in_jackson
Date
2007-04-24T13:25:47-06:00
ID
127527
Comment

why was the jury sent out? what's that all about? i know nothing about courtroom procedure, so someone please clue me in.

Author
Belhaver
Date
2007-04-24T13:38:26-06:00
ID
127528
Comment

My understanding is that Lewis has a Press Release in his hand that may have "explained" what had happened that evening that he clearly didn't write. so, the atty asked if he heard about the events of the evening, and he replied "Yes, from WLBT." Maybe it was only about his hand being cut during a chase - that didn't happen. But, I think the DA has a key piece of evidence that the Judge is not allowing.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T13:39:18-06:00
ID
127529
Comment

On redirect, Alexander asked Cooper to show his hands to the jury. "What's that on your hands?" he asked. Cooper said it was oil. "Why do you have oil on your hands?" Alexander asked. It was from working on cards, Cooper replied. "Are you a certified mechanic?" Alexander asked. cards = cars ? The defense immediately objected and called for a mis-trial. Webster granted the objection, warning Alexander that his question was "inappopriate, at least for redirect," but refused to grant a mis-trial. He directed the jury to disregard Alexander's question. Change to inappropriate.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-24T13:46:57-06:00
ID
127530
Comment

And why did the judge give the lawyer for the state a hard time about his line of questioning to Lewis concerning the ethical responsibilities of a police officer? Though he could have been a bit more terse, I understood where he was going with that perfectly well. The judge said (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Recio and Wright are not on trial for violating a police code of ethics, they are on trial for tearing up a house". Don't those two things go together? Or am I missing something?

Author
Belhaver
Date
2007-04-24T13:48:17-06:00
ID
127531
Comment

I think they're playing a game of Pong, with the jury as the ball.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2007-04-24T13:51:27-06:00
ID
127532
Comment

It appears that the fix it in! The judge is determined not to let the state try its case. Tyrone is a joke. He has the spine of a jellyfish!

Author
thetruth
Date
2007-04-24T15:49:10-06:00
ID
127533
Comment

judge was right. Its nothing to get upset about. Everyone pretty much knows that cops are supposed to be enforcers of the law and can not claim ignorance as an excuse.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T15:50:31-06:00
ID
127534
Comment

I can't believe that he said that all the JPD Rules are discretionary. That's ridiculous.

Author
thetruth
Date
2007-04-24T15:53:27-06:00
ID
127535
Comment

if they are being brought up by internal affairs, etc, then its relevant. However, they are being brought up for breaking the law. Court can not punish them in this case for violating their code of ethics so it is not relevant. Now it might be applicable in sentencing for all I know, but I can see where the judge is coming from in this case.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T15:56:40-06:00
ID
127536
Comment

I believe the Code of Ethics for Law Enforcement Personnel is different from the Standing Orders of the Jackson Police Department. Standing Orders can not be discretionary; they are orders. You can no more pick and choose which ones to obey than you can pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments you want to follow. Tyrone Lewis should be nicknamed 'Ol Pick 'n Choose Lewis! As far as I am concerned, he does not deserve serious consideration for Sheriff. He squirmed to avoid telling the truth under oath. Just no longer can be considered to have what it takes. What a waste of potential. Why did he jeapordize his future for Melton?

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2007-04-24T22:13:50-06:00
ID
127537
Comment

One of the youths said, "We're Wood Street in here tearing up the Virden Addition," No matter what it is about, when it comes to Melton it is always Woods Street. As I stated last year, All Roads Lead To Woods Street in Melton's life. I find this odd.

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2007-04-24T22:18:10-06:00
ID
127538
Comment

wood street used to be the most dangerous street in Jackson. it is kind of weird.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T22:29:52-06:00
ID
127539
Comment

if we examine the facts, all of the previous cases and the city's money spent was to hem up the old wood street players that had quit frank and doing their business solo, that is vidal sullivan, bat man, and maybe the owner of the upper level , i'm not 100% sure of him. this smells like rotten fish to me!

Author
sistergirl
Date
2007-04-25T12:40:57-06:00

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