LMPD pushing to have grand jury reconsider felony assault charge - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LMPD pushing to have grand jury reconsider felony assault charge against David Yates

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David Yates David Yates

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police are pushing to have a grand jury reconsider a felony assault charge against Metro Council President David Yates. 

But Yates' lawyers argued before a Jefferson Circuit Court judge Monday morning that LMPD should be recused from the case because of an "outrageous conflict of interest" -- and not allowed to present evidence against him.

Yates is the lead attorney suing police over allegations of sexual assault in its youth Explorer program.

The Jefferson County grand jury was supposed to hear the case against Yates on Monday, but Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Audra Eckerle delayed the proceeding and set a hearing to discuss the arguments on Wednesday. 

"This relentless and baseless pursuit of charges against Mr. Yates reeks of political persecution and an attempt at retribution by the very law enforcement agency that Mr. Yates has sued claiming this very type of manipulation of power," according to a motion filed Monday by Yates' attorneys. 

In the motion, attorneys for Yates asked the judge to prevent a special prosecutor from presenting a felony assault case against Yates stemming from an incident at a University of Louisville football game in November 2016.

 A grand jury in June chose not to indict Yates in the case, but, because it is a felony, there is no statute of limitations and prosecutors and police can bring the case back up.

The motion claims there is no new evidence against Yates and that the special prosecutor, Terry Geoghegan out of Nelson County, has been pressured by "elements of the Louisville Metro Police Department."

In the motion, attorneys Ryan Vantrease and Todd Lewis argue the lawsuit filed by Yates against LMPD includes claims against the department's Public Integrity Unit, which supervised the Explorer Program. And the PIU has also been investigating Yates in the assault case, causing a clear conflict of interest, the attorneys claim. 

"Re-presenting a once-failed case to the grand jury again when there is no new evidence or change of circumstances, is rare enough indeed - but here as it is being done at the urging and pressure of this particular police unit, in this particular scenario, is beyond the bounds of all propriety," according to the motion. 

Yates' attorneys suggested turning the case over to the Attorney General or Kentucky State Police.

A statement released on behalf of Yates said the second attempt to seek an indictment by police "after failing to prove their case before a previous Grand Jury reeks of political payback."

"David has spent the last year exposing a systematic cover up of sexual abuse by the LMPD," according to the statement. "This cover up includes actions by some members of the Public Integrity Unit and now that very same unit is still pursuing charges against him. David will continue his fight against this very type of police misconduct and will not be deterred."

Yates has been under investigation by the Louisville Metro Police Department since he got into an altercation with another man at the Nov. 12, 2016, Wake Forest game.

The grand jury issued a "no true bill" on one count of 2nd-degree assault, meaning the jurors did not find enough evidence to indict Yates.

In an interview after the grand jury's decision, Yates said the man was "harassing" his girlfriend and "physically threatened" them in a stairwell at the game, throwing a drink at the couple. The man had assaulted Yates' girlfriend previously, he said.

"I had to defend myself and my girlfriend," Yates said. "I acted appropriately."

Yates said he struck the man in the face and the man hit the ground. 

"This is a clear case of self-defense," he said. Yates said the man had broken bones in his face as a result of the incident.

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