Probable cause hearing continued for officer in school confrontation

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A probable cause hearing to determine if a Greenwood police officer should face criminal charges for a confrontation with an unarmed high school student has been continued.

James Marshall, an 18-year-old senior at Greenwood High School, claims Casey Wiggins, an officer working at the school, violated his civil rights by using excessive force.

Several witnesses, including Marshall, testified at a hearing Monday. Judge Ashley Hines granted a prosecution request to continue the trial until Thursday when several witnesses did not show up, according to attorneys on both sides.

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Marshall’s attorney, Carlos Moore, of Grenada, and Wiggins’ lawyer, Mitchell Creel, of Greenville, both said they would wait until the hearing is over to comment.

A school surveillance camera captured the Dec. 6 scuffle and each side claims the images back up its story. They show the officer pointing his gun at Marshall’s head and the officer putting Marshall in a choke hold.

Wiggins says he was only trying to restrain Marshall, who the officer claims was resisting.

Moore has filed a $2 million lawsuit and a federal criminal complaint with the U.S Justice Department. It accuses Wiggins of excessive force and of making a false arrest under the color of law.

According to state law, police officers and public school teachers are entitled to a probable cause hearing before arrest if accused of committing a felony or misdemeanor while on duty.