Closing Arguments / by Charisse Domingo

 (Community surrounding Henry's Sires mom in front of the Hall of Justice before entering court for the closing arguments.)

(Community surrounding Henry's Sires mom in front of the Hall of Justice before entering court for the closing arguments.)

For his final day of trial, Henry wore a white collar shirt and a tie. He looked to the back of the courtroom to see it packed with families, community members, mothers who lost their loved ones to police violence and youth. All were wearing a Protect Your People shirt. More supporters for Henry kept arriving to the courtroom as the DA started her arguments. There were no seats left in the courtroom pews. Before the group went into the courtroom, we held a support circle around Henry’s mother, and Reverend Moore from the NAACP lead a prayer. Then we walked in.

The DA started and argued that "a tall man is visible" referring to Deputy Vandergraff and he should have been seen by Henry. However, she did not consider that the same was true for Henry, yet Vandergraff failed to see him too.  She argued that Deputy Vandergraff lack of memory was due to the traumatic event he experienced. At one point she said, "All the incidents that have happened throughout the nation do not matter.” The DA raised her voice as she spoke about Henry in a demeaning way, accusing him of being a liar. These depictions made his Mrs. Sires, who has sat through every court date, cry.

When it was Henry’s attorney’s turn to present, he started by showing a photo of the view from the mountainside where Henry was shot. It was the serene view that brought Henry to that road on that fateful day. Then the attorney showed the picture of Henry in a hospital bed, bloody from the bullet shot by sheriff Vandergraff.

Henry’s attorney used physical evidence to prove his arguments. He displayed a photo of Henry's car that showed the gun shots being fired into the side, showing that Henry’s call could not have been facing directly at the officer. He used the bullet trajectories photos, even those initially presented by the prosecutor, to demonstrate the direction of the bullets.

And he discussed how Deputy Vandergraff, in the end, used lethal force for an illegal parking situation. He pointed out that Vandergraff's excessive use of force placed even placed Deputy Randall and the civilians at the scene in danger. He asked the jury to reject the DA's argument that Henry was a liar and asked them to apply the same principle she requested for Vandergraff's given that Henry was also in a traumatic event, especially after being shot in his hand.

Henry’s attorney also stated how Deputy Vandergraff contradicted himself and in fact corroborated Henry's testimony. The notion that Henry’s car posed a threat to Vandergraff just wasn’t not supported by science and facts. According to experts, the car was going less than five miles per hour.

Henry’s attorney always kept the same tone of voice and was polite even when speaking about Deputy Vandergraff. He used terms the jury could understand and made their decision about common sense. — Sarait Escorza