I posted a link in late February to a story by Pamela Colloff, in The Texas Monthly about the beating of Billy Ray Johnson, a mentally disabled African American, by a group of drunken, young Caucasian fellows. Johnson was found “unconscious on a fire ant mound and had suffered a serious concussion and bleeding in the brain.” Johnson “lives in a nursing home because of the injuries he suffered in the beating.”
The criminal prosecution of two of the young fellows was less than arduous and “Jurors in the criminal cases against Amox and Hicks acquitted them of serious felony charges, instead convicting them of a lesser charge and recommending probation.” Two other of the young fellows “pleaded guilty to an ‘injury to a disabled individual by omission’ charge.” None of the four spent more than 60 days in jail.
Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center pursued a civil suit on behalf of Mr. Johnson. “A jury of 11 whites and one black deliberated less than four hours before returning a unanimous verdict” awarding Johnson $9 million.
“‘The jury told all of Texas and, indeed, the entire country, that Billy Ray is a human being who deserves to be treated with dignity – that the life of each of us, rich or poor, black or white, abled or disabled, is truly precious,’ said Morris Dees, founder and chief trial attorney for the Montgomery, Ala.-based law center.”