Jersey City Man Shot In the Face And Blinded By Cop Faces 30 Years In Prison
Kwadir Felton, 22, was shot in the face by Jersey City Police Sgt. Thomas McVicar on January 10, 2010, and went blind as a result. Yet it is Felton who faces up to 30 years in prison for aggravated assault of a police officer.
McVicar says he was forced to open fire because Felton, intending to rob him, pointed a gun at him, which was allegedly found lying next to Felton after he’d been shot.
But Felton, who was 18 at the time, adamantly denies that he was armed. He testified that he had just left a baby shower and was on his way to his girlfriend’s house when he heard someone call his name and say, “Yo, you little black mother fucker, you better get the fuck down before I blow your fucking brains out.”
“There’s no reason to have a weapon on me,” Felton told the courtroom. “That’s not me. I was raised better than that.”
Nevertheless, as happens in most cases with black defendants, the jury sided with the cop last month and found Felton guilty on all counts, including aggravated assault of an officer and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Upon hearing the verdict, Felton’s mother, Dawn Felton, who had recently undergone open heart surgery, “collapsed on the ground in uncontrollable sobs and kicked the bench near where she had collapsed,” according to The Jersey Journal.
Unable to calm her down (whatever that means), police officers “dragged her out of the courtroom.”
Meanwhile, Felton broke down sobbing and shouted at an officer, “I don’t understand! You didn’t have to shoot me in the head for no reason! You trying to charge me with something I didn’t do!”
Brooke Barnett, Felton’s attorney, has since filed a motion for a new trial, citing “prosecutorial misconduct” and calling the state’s evidence against Felton “absolutely and unequivocally contradicted, clearly causing a miscarriage of justice.”
Given the trauma and torment Felton has been forced to endure over the last four years, the injustice goes beyond the verdict. Felton testified at his trial that he lost the will to live due to his injuries and tried on multiple occasions to take his own life.
“(Going blind) took life from me,” he told the jury. “If I couldn’t see, I didn’t want to live.” The Jersey Journal summarized the aftermath of the shooting:
When Felton woke up handcuffed to his bed in the hospital shortly after the incident, he said his vision was “fuzzy” and “black and white.” Then a nurse gave him medication and he lost consciousness again, he said.
When Felton woke up next in Hudson County jail, he said his vision was pitch-black like it is today, like “staring at a black chalkboard.”
A month later he was released from jail, but he was re-arrested on drug charges just a week later. He was released from jail a second time in March 2010.
During the months that followed, Felton sank into a deep depression. Felton said he would try to sleep all day — because at least he could still see in his dreams.
Besides blindness, Felton said he still suffers from seizures and a cyst on the right side of his brain.
“I can feel (the cyst) moving around,” he said. “My brain feels like it’s fuzzy. If I were to shake my head, you could hear it.”
Felton added that in the the lead up to his trial, he faced repeated harassment from Jersey City police officers.
He said officers driving by his block this past summer would shout out of their windows and call him names when he sat on his porch.
“They say ‘Hey, Tommy’s friend,'” he said, calling it a reference to McVicar. “They call me ‘retarded.’ They yell out of their car ‘Who shot the sheriff?'”
Despite losing his sight, Felton has tried to move forward with his life.
A senior when he was arrested, Felton finally graduated this past June after overcoming the physical and emotional trauma of the incident. He called walking in the graduation ceremony at Snyder High School “one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
Now Felton is starting to gain back his confidence. He said he wanted to teach the blind one day.
“I want to attend college and get my degree, get my master’s degree in education and communication and teach braille,” he said. “I want to work for the commission of the blind.”
Unfortunately, the state of New Jersey is not satisfied with robbing Felton of his sight. They want the next 30 years of his life as well.
Felton’s sentencing is scheduled for January 14, 2014.