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Melee Defendant Goes On Stand

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Melee Defendant Goes On Stand

Wffl MiZ? 1971

Thaddeus R. Harrison Jr., the 18-year-old U-M sophomore who is on trial in Circuit Court for striking an Ann Arbor police officer with a granite chunk during last year’s BAM demonstration, took the witness stand in his own defense this morning.

Prosecutor Thomas F. Shea questioned the youth on his activities the afternoon of March 19, 1970, when BAM supporters and police clashed near the corner of Thompson and Jefferson Sts.

Shea asked Harrison a number of questions that the prosecutor admitted were intended to impeach the defendant. One such point concerned Harrison’s contention that during the demonstration, he was always within about five feet of a companion.

Shea unsuccessfully attempted to put into evidence pictures which he said illustrated Harrison was at times not within five feet of anybody.

Judge William F. Ager Jr. this morning also thwarted an effort by Shea to question Harrison on his debating background, ruling that such questions were immaterial to the case.

Among the witnesses who appeared for the defense yesterday afternoon was Eric Siegel, student sports editor of the Michigan Daily. Siegel testified that what he saw on March 19, was completely contrary to the prosecution’s claims.

As a member of the same crowd Harrison was in on that afternoon outside the U-M Administration Building, Siegel said his attention was drawn to the defendant by the distinctive hat he wore.

Keeping an eye on Harrison as police waded in to disperse the crowd, Siegel told the court he never saw the black student throw anything, but 'he did witness a police officer approach Harrison from behind and knock him to the ground with a swing of his nightstick.

According to Siegel’s testimony, there was no apparent reason for the officer to behave in such a manner.

Prosecutor Shea then questioned Siegel about refusing last Thursday night to give police a statment on what he saw during the confrontation until after he had conferred with defense attorney Morton Leitzen.

“Are you afraid to talk to people about what actually happened without consulting others first?” queried Shea.

The prosecutor also stressed that Siegel had admitted his vision was blurred for a time while he was focusing on Harrison.

Leitzen, however, brought out testimony that that time came only after the defendant was already on the ground with police. The defense attorney further obtained an answer from Siegel that he had made a full and voluntary statement t o police before the trial began.