Jurors having trouble reaching verdict in Bridges McRae trial

Bridges McRae
Bridges McRae

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) – A federal jury in Memphis had trouble Friday reaching a verdict in the trial of a former Memphis police officer accused of civil rights violations.

After breaking for lunch Friday, jurors returned to tell the judge they were unable to reach a verdict in the trial of Bridges McRae.  The judge asked the jurors to continue their deliberations and work out their differences, based on a legal precedent called the Allen charge.

Bridges McRae is accused of exercising unreasonable force, using a dangerous weapon and causing bodily injury to someone in his custody, namely, Duana Johnson, a transgendered woman he picked up for prostitution.

After the arrest, McRae was videotaped in the sally port area of Shelby County Criminal Justice Center as he beat Johnson during an altercation.  McRae was fired from the Memphis Police Department following the incident.

Gay and lesbian groups later called the beating a hate crime.

Jurors have been deliberating since Wednesday.  When considering a hung jury, McRae's attorney, Frank Trapp said a not guity verdict would be preferable.

"You'd always like to have a not guilty verdict, because we think that's what the evidence shows," he said.

McRae was on indicted in November of 2008. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

The jury went home Friday without reaching a verdict.  Deliberations are scheduled to resume Monday morning.

Stay with Action News 5 and WMCTV.com for updates on this story.

Text of the Allen charge as approved for use in the United States district courts:

"Members of the Jury:

I'm going to ask that you continue your deliberations in an effort to reach agreement upon a verdict and dispose of this case; and I would like for you to consider as you do so.

This is an important case. The trial has been expensive in time, effort, money and emotional strain to both the defense and the prosecution. If you should fail to agree upon a verdict, the case will be left open and may have to be tried again. Obviously, another trial would only serve to increase the cost to both sides, and there is no reason to believe that the case can be tried again by either side any better or more exhaustively than it has been tried before you.

Any future jury must be selected in the same manner and from the same source as you were chosen, and there is no reason to believe that the case could ever be submitted to twelve men and women more conscientious, more impartial, or more competent to decide it, or that more or clearer evidence could be produced.

If a substantial majority of your number are in favor of a conviction, those of you who disagree should reconsider whether your doubt is a reasonable one since it appears to make no effective impression upon the minds of the others. On the other hand, if a majority or even a lesser number of you are in favor of an acquittal, the rest of you should ask yourselves again, and most thoughtfully, whether you should accept the weight and sufficiency of evidence which fails to convince your fellow jurors beyond a reasonable doubt.

Remember at all times that no juror is expected to give up an honest belief he or she may have as to the weight or effect of the evidence; but, after full deliberation and consideration of the evidence in the case, it is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so.

You must also remember that if the evidence in the case fails to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the Defendant should have your unanimous verdict of Not Guilty.

You may be as leisurely in your deliberations as the occasion may require and should take all the time which you may feel is necessary.

I will ask now that you retire once again and continue your deliberations with these additional comments in mind to be applied, of course, in conjunction with all of the other instructions I have previously given to you."

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