Lawyers are expected to make closing arguments this afternoon in a jury trial for a Rising Sun Police Department officer accused of slamming a 17-year-old girl’s head against the hood of a patrol car in November after taking her into custody at a town shopping center.
The defendant, Daniel Stickney, 37, also allegedly applied upward pressure on the teen’s arms while they were handcuffed behind her back – lifting her feet off the ground and causing her to beg for mercy.
Stickney’s lawyer, Lawrence S. Greenberg of Baltimore, rested the defense’s case late Wednesday morning after calling three witnesses – RSPD Patrolman 1st Class Richard Hardy, who was Stickney’s partner during the incident; RSPD Chief Chip Peterson; and Chad Quinter, a loss prevention officer employed by Martin’s grocery store, where the alleged assault occurred.
Stickney, who is charged with both second-degree assault and misconduct in office, declined to testify in his own defense. Greenberg rested the defense’s case after advising Stickney of his right to testify and of his right to remain silent.
Most of the defense testimony regarding the incident mirrored that given Tuesday by the alleged victim, Rising Sun resident Brianna Antao, now 18.
Hardy, in uniform, and Stickney, clad in civilian clothes including sweatpants, responded to Martin’s supermarket at 24 Rising Sun Town Center about 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2011 because Quinter caught Antao shoplifting shampoo and face cream.
Antao admitted to those thefts – as well as to buying prescription painkillers from a dealer she had arranged to meet in the women’s bathroom in that store; to being under the influence of pain meds while shoplifting and to ingesting her remaining pills (“less than five”) to avoid drug charges after the loss prevention officer collared her and before police arrived.
What occurred when Stickney and Hardy met with Antao inside a grocery store office, as well as from that point forward, are marked by divergent accounts.
Hardy testified that Antao became combative by yelling obscenities and thrashing about after Stickney took her cell phone because she appeared to texting. Hardy said he handcuffed Antao, who had been compliant and calm until the phone incident.
Then Stickney led Antao, whose hands were cuffed behind her back, out the grocery store and to Hardy’s patrol car parked outside Martin’s, he testified.
“She was hostile, very hostile,” Hardy testified. “She was constantly swearing, cursing. She did not want to go. She used her body weight. She was jerking a lot. When you’re in handcuffs, the more you move, the more pain you cause yourself.”
Store surveillance cameras videotaped Stickney escorting Antao out the supermarket and later restraining her at the patrol car by leaning her over the hood.
Cecil County State’s Attorney Ellis Rollins III showed the video to jurors as evidence on Tuesday. Greenberg showed it to jurors again on Wednesday, as he asked Hardy for his assessment of it.
Hardy blamed all of the herky-jerky motion, the upward thrusts of the handcuffed teen’s arms behind her back and Antao’s head abruptly moving toward the hood – he disputed that it ever touched – on Antao.
“She was all over the place, wiggling around,” Hardy said, before referencing Stickney in the video and commenting, “He is motionless.”
Hardy acknowledged that, despite the teen’s purported bucking and squirming, Stickney was able to restrain her against the patrol car at one point with one hand while using the other to talk on his cell phone.
Antao testified that Stickney was talking to a man named Bob about a washing machine.
After that call, according to Antao, Stickney profanely chided her for making noise during his conversation and then slammed her head against the hood of the patrol car, lifting her feet off the pavement.
He also lifted her arms higher behind her back, causing more pain to her shoulders as she continued to cry and beg for mercy, Antao testified.
In her testimony, Antao told jurors she was using her cell phone inside that store office only to look up her mother’s phone number, after Hardy had asked for it.
At that point, according to the accounts given by Hardy and Antao, the plan was for the police officers to release the teen to the custody of her mother in the shoplifting case.
Antao acknowledged that she acted belligerently – but only because Stickney grabbed her cell phone while she was attempting to oblige Hardy’s request and then “slammed” her against the wall.
On the witness stand, Hardy did not recall asking Antao for her mother’s phone number, until Rollins provided him with a copy of the police report Hardy had written shortly after the incident.
Quinter also testified that Antao was texting on her cell phone in the store office and that Stickney grabbed it for that reason.
In addition, Quinter testified that Antao then lashed out. She “yelled obscenities” inside the store, disturbing nearby shoppers, and struggled as Stickney led her to the patrol car.
Moments later, the sight and sounds at that patrol car caught the attention of Cecil County resident Chasidy Garvey, as she and her husband walked from their vehicle in the parking lot to the supermarket to shop.
“What attracted my attention was her feet were a foot off the ground and her face was pressed against the hood of the car,” Garvey testified Tuesday. “She was crying, saying, ‘Aww, you’re hurting me.’ Her feet were off the ground approximately a foot, swinging from side to side.”
Garvey told jurors she assumed that the man forcefully restraining the teen was an undercover police officer because, although he had her pressed her against a marked patrol car, he was clad in “street clothes,” including sweatpants.
Noting that she isn’t one to gawk, Garvey testified that she continued her walk into the store, although the incident disturbed her.
Several days later, Garvey, who is employed as a Cecil County Circuit Courthouse clerk, told coworkers what she had witnessed, she testified.
And someone – it wasn’t Garvey – relayed her story to someone in the Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office, which is headquartered on the third-floor of that building.
That office launched an investigation that led to the store’s surveillance videotape, which, in turn, led to the criminal charges against Stickney.
Stickney was issued a criminal summons on March 21 and, amid the criminal case against him, he has remained on the police force. Stickney holds the Patrolman 1st Class rank.
For more information on closing arguments and the verdict, stay tuned to cecildaily.com or read Friday’s edition of the Cecil Whig.