Civil Rights Trial Begins - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Civil Rights Trial Begins

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Rev. Rico Diamond Rev. Rico Diamond
March 2006 March 2006
Ofc. Jack O'Connor Ofc. Jack O'Connor

Burlington, Vermont - July 22, 2008

The Reverend Rico Diamond had little to say as he arrived at the federal courthouse for the first day of the civil trial in his lawsuit against the city of South Burlington and Police Officer Jack O'Connor.

"There's a lot of thoughts, but I just can't share them right now. But I'm quite sure at a later time I would," Diamond said.

Nothing to say today, but Reverend Diamond had plenty to say more than three years ago. He was showing off some of his cash after police took $5,300 of cash from him when they suspected the money might be from a drug deal. He held a news conference to announce he was totally innocent and the police targeted him only because of his color.

"And if I so desire to carry cash on me, I will carry cash. Just as I told Officer O'Connor: I do not think he would have treated me the way he did treat me if the pigmentation of my skin was different," Diamond said in March 2006.

The cash was taken as Diamond and a female companion were spending the night in a hotel room in South Burlington.

Officer Jack O'Connor and other South Burlington officers arrived after a tip from the hotel of suspicious activity.

The money was returned; but Diamond filed a civil rights suit. He now wants an unspecified amount from Officer O'Connor, and the city of South Burlington.

O'Connor declined comment. His lawyer says they can prove they had reasonable suspicion to take the money from Diamond and his companion.

"There are multiple stories about what was going on in that hotel room. So her version differs considerably from what the reverend's is," said O'Connor's lawyer Kaveh Shahi.

The former county prosecutor Bob Simpson testified he had sent out a letter expressing his concern about Officer O'Connor's search and seizure activities and conduct as a police officer.

Lawyers say the case could go to the jury to begin deliberating a verdict by the end of the week.

Brian Joyce - WCAX News

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