Prosecutors Push for Forced Statement to Be Used Against Chrishaun McDonald in Murder Case
McDonald Asserts Self-Defense, Continues Fight Against Discriminatory Prosecution
December 5, 2011
Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN) firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 363-7574; and Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition, email@example.com, (612) 823-1152
Minneapolis – Earlier today, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald appeared in court for the first evidentiary hearing for the charges she is facing after being the target of a racist attack in June of this year. Prosecutors argued that a statement police extracted from McDonald under adverse conditions after her arrest should be admitted at trial, while McDonald’s attorney argued that the police denied her due process rights by overwhelming her will and extracting the statement after she had been isolated for hours when she was exhausted and in physical and emotional distress. (For the defense’s full motion, see https://supportcece.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/mcdonald-rasmussen-mot.pdf). In another key development in the case, McDonald announced that she will be pursuing an affirmative defense of self-defense resulting in an accidental death.
The court heard testimony from Sergeant Christopher Gaiters of the Minneapolis Police Department, one of the officers who interrogated McDonald in the early morning hours after her arrest. McDonald was released from the emergency room at the Hennepin County Medical Center just before 4am on June 5 where she received eleven stitches in her cheek, local anesthetic, and pain medication. She was subsequently transferred to an interrogation room at City Hall, where her questioning did not begin until 8:10am. Gaiters testified that he and his partner left McDonald alone in the interrogation cell for approximately three hours before interrogating her at length, repeatedly pushing her to talk more when they were unsatisfied with her account of the attack. Although McDonald stated at the beginning of the interrogation that she was having trouble speaking due to the stitches in her cheek, Gaiters continued to pressure her to make a statement, promising her that, if she told him more, he would tell the County Attorney her side of the story.
“Sergeant Gaiters insisted in court today that he and his partner acted courteously and professionally when interrogating CeCe,” said Jude Ortiz. “But it was apparent to everyone in the courtroom that these niceties only cover the abusive process CeCe was subjected to after surviving a brutal attack by people motivated by white supremacist hate. She was seriously wounded, traumatized from the violence she experienced, exhausted from being kept up all night in a small interrogation cell, and had no attorney present. The police didn’t have to be mean to her to force her to give them the statement they wanted to hear—all they had to do was take advantage of the vulnerable state she was in.”
At court this morning Judge Daniel Moreno also took two other motions under consideration: a motion to suppress a letter allegedly written by McDonald that the Star Tribune cited in several articles about McDonald’s case, and a toxicology report on Dean Schmitz from an expert witness. Judge Moreno expects to rule on these important pre-trial issues within a few days.
Supporters continue to uphold their commitment to packing the courtroom and spreading the word about the injustice McDonald is suffering in the legal system. McDonald’s trial is tentatively scheduled to begin on January 9. Visit https://supportcece.wordpress.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For a media packet and other resources for press coverage of McDonald’s case, see https://supportcece.wordpress.com/media.