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November 2008


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Sheriff’s Deputy Acquitted in Asphyxiation Death During Traffic Stop

In this college town, in a controversial case filled with emotion, the judge took the unusual step of warning  that anyone who made a sound after the verdict was read would be taken into custody.

By Art Aisner
The Ann Arbor News
ANN ARBOR — A federal jury Wednesday acquitted Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Eberle of violating the civil rights of Clifton Lee, who died of asphyxiation in a struggle with police more than two years ago.
Eberle looked at the jury as the verdict was read, then lowered his head, turned to his wife and held her as she cried.
“I just always had faith that the jury would come back with a not-guilty verdict and that’s what they did,” Eberle said after leaving the courtroom.
Members of Lee’s family denounced the verdict as they left the court.
“This is a miscarriage of justice, but we have to abide by the ruling of the jury as sad as it is,” said Douglas Barden Sr., Lee’s uncle.
The verdict came after about 12 hours of deliberations over three days.
The judge had warned that anyone who made a sound after the verdict was read would be taken into custody, so there was no audible reaction in the packed courtroom.
Lee died during a struggle with sheriff’s deputies in the West Willow neighborhood of Ypsilanti Township on June 1, 2006. Lee was charged with violating Lee’s civil rights by using excessive force while restraining him on a street during a traffic stop.
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