Protester accused of pepper spraying police is acquitted
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A man charged with pepper spraying San Diego police officers during a heated protest last year has been acquitted of all charges.
A jury on Thursday found Denzel Draughn, 29, not guilty of eight felonies: two counts of using tear gas on officers and six counts of resisting officers, the Union-Tribune reported.
Prosecutors contented that Draughn pepper sprayed 11 officers during the protest against police violence in downtown San Diego on Aug. 28, 2020.
The charges stemmed from a confrontation between officers and protesters during a demonstration five days after the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis.
Deputy Public Defender Damian Lowe told jurors Draughn sprayed the officers because he saw a group of them tackling a man to the ground, then punching and kicking him.
“From his point of view, these officers are attacking these protesters,” Lowe said during opening statements.
Attempts by the Union-Tribune to reach Lowe and Draughn on Thursday were unsuccessful. District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office declined to comment on the acquittal.
Draughn’s case garnered support from some community members, in part because he was initially detained on $750,000 bail — which supporters said was an excessive amount. During arraignment, a judge lowered bail to $150,000, and Draughn posted bail.