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12-30-08, 07:35 PM #1
Jena Six icon Mychal Bell is in legal trouble again — this time for shoplifting, resisting arrest and simple battery
Jena Six icon Mychal Bell is in legal trouble again — this time in Monroe.
Bell, 18, who lists his current address as 109 Grayling Lane, Monroe, is free on bond following a Christmas Eve arrest on multiple charges, including shoplifting, resisting arrest and simple battery, related to an incident at Dillard’s in Pecanland Mall.
Bell was arrested less than one month after he completed a sentence for his role in the beating of a fellow classmate, Justin Barker, at Jena High School in 2006.
Police said Bell and an unidentified male were spotted Wednesday by store security after they placed $370 worth of merchandise in a Dillard’s shopping bag. After the two separated, Bell left the store, was followed by a security officer, and began running through the parking lot.
Police said Bell was discovered under a vehicle in the Sears parking lot. Lt. Jeff Harris said Bell began “swinging his arms wildly” and delivered a glancing blow to the security officer with his elbow.
Bell was booked into Richwood Correctional Center and released on $1,300 bond. He will be arraigned at a later date. Each of the charges carries a possible penalty of up to six months in jail.
Louis Scott who has represented Bell in the past said that preconceived notions on the part of Dillard’s employees may have played a role in Bell’s arrest.
“Dillard’s has a tradition of being overly suspicious of young black males,” Scott said.
Scott said that personal and court experiences have led him to that conclusion. “He should at least have the presumption of innocence,” he said.
Dillard’s has been accused racial profiling in lawsuits in Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky and Georgia.
A Dillard’s store manager in Monroe referred requests for comment to Roger Williams in the company’s Little Rock, Ark., office.
A spokesperson who answered the phone in William’s office said he would have no comment on the matter.
Scott has not been contacted to represent Bell on the current charges.
“I am predicting that once all the facts are established, he probably will not be guilty,” Scott said. “There has been more put on this young man than anybody can bear — people trying to provoke him, trying to make him react.
“If he was going to break the law, I believe he would have done it before.”
Scott, Bob Noel and Carol Powell Lexing of Monroe represented Bell when he pleaded guilty to second-degree battery for his role in the attack on Jena High School student Justin Barker in December 2006.
Bell was sentenced to 18 months in the custody of the Office of Youth Development for his part in the crime. Bell also served a sentence for three previous unnamed crimes.
Because he was a juvenile when he pleaded guilty to the previous crimes, Scott said Bell is not considered to have a criminal record.
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