Immediately after a prosecutor's closing argument yesterday, a judge acquitted two siblings of aggravated assault and related charges in a May 2007 confrontation with police.
Upon hearing Common Pleas Judge Willis Berry Jr.'s decision, Robert Zuber, the father of the defendants, clapped aloud in court.
Zuber's daughter, Cordelia Zuber, now 25, and son, Anthony Zuber, now 20, were ecstatic following their acquittals, which came on the third day of their non-jury trial.
Their sister, Jasmin Zuber, now 22, still faces trial on the same charges. Her trial was delayed because of attorney issues.
Defense attorney Randolph Goldman, who defended Anthony, said afterward: "We got the right decision."
The defendants' mother, Cordella Zuber, said: "Justice has been done. This is making a statement: They [Police] need to stop the brutality."
Trial testimony differed wildly.
Police Officer Martin McDonald testified that about 9:45 p.m. May 23, 2007, he and his partner, David Palma, stopped their car in front of Anthony Zuber's car, on Wallace Street near 38th, Mantua, because they saw Zuber drinking vodka from a bottle.
Anthony Zuber testified that he had not been drinking vodka. He had two friends in his car.
McDonald testified that as he was speaking with Anthony, Jasmin Zuber walked by and yelled, cursing, for the officers to leave her brother alone. Jasmin then pushed him, McDonald testified.
After getting pushed, McDonald said he grabbed Jasmin to arrest her. But as Jasmin was pulling away, McDonald said, Anthony Zuber grabbed him from behind in a "choking move."
McDonald said he had been "pinned up against" a wall. Then, Cordelia Zuber began "grinding" a cell phone in his forehead, he said.
Police officers testified that an angry crowd of about 50 people came to the scene, with some swarming McDonald and Palma.
With the help of other officers, police arrested the three Zubers.
Anthony and Cordelia Zuber, and Anthony's friend, Quentin Williams, testified differently.
Anthony Zuber said that when Jasmin walked by, she did not curse but asked the officers "why they're harassing us." He said his sister did not push any officer.
He also testified that he had not put McDonald in a choke hold. Instead, he said, he put his arm around Jasmin and told her to relax as McDonald was trying to grab her.
Williams, who was in Zuber's car, testified last week that he saw officers throw Jasmin, Anthony and Cordelia to the ground.
All three Zubers were kicked by police while on the ground, Williams testified.
McDonald and Palma testified that police did not throw any of the Zubers to the ground and did not kick them.
After the judge's decision yesterday, McDonald said they "were disappointed" by the ruling. "We were trying to do our job," he said.
McDonald said this was not a case of police brutality. "Nobody had any injuries," he said. "Can you explain that to me?"
The Zuber siblings contended afterward that they were injured.
In a separate but related case, three other people had been arrested the same day that the Zubers were taken into custody. Ronette Johnson and her two daughters, Shakeera, 18, and a 13-year-old whose name was not released, were charged with assaulting Officer Jason Sommerville, who responded to the scene.
According to court records, Shakeera Johnson was convicted in November of aggravated assault, conspiracy and related charges and sentenced to six years' probation.
Charges against Ronette Johnson, now 34, were dismissed at a September preliminary hearing because of lack of prosecution, according to court records. No further information was immediately available.
As for the 13-year-old, the District Attorney's Office said she was convicted in Family Court. *