Judge Lowers Bail For Protester Accused Of Pepper-Spraying Police
A protester who'd been in jail for two weeks on $750,000 bail now will have his bail lowered to $150,000 so he can be released.
Denzel Draughn, who is a Black man, was arrested during a protest in downtown San Diego on Aug. 28. Police allege he picked up a can of pepper spray dropped by an officer and sprayed it at the assembled officers.
Draughn was charged with two felony counts of unlawful use of tear gas against a peace officer and 11 felony counts of use of force against a peace officer. If convicted of all the charges, he faces a sentence ranging from probation with zero days in jail up to 11 years.
Draughn pleaded not guilty on all counts during his arraignment Wednesday.
Police originally asked a judge to double his bail, arguing that he was a flight risk and a danger to officers.
RELATED: San Diego Activist Still In Jail, Under $750,000 Bail, A Week After Protest
"They threw the book at him because they see him as the enemy because he's part of the Black Lives Matter Movement," said his attorney Lillian Lawrence, a civil rights lawyer who is representing him pro bono. "He is a hero and they're trying to villainize him for standing up for something everyone should be standing up for."
For the past couple weeks, some of Draughn's fellow protesters had been staging demonstrations outside the downtown jail to draw attention to his predicament.
Judge Francis Devaney said he was surprised at the bail amount.
"When I saw bail was set at $750,000, I immediately looked at the charges because I didn't think this was a murder, manslaughter, or rape," Devaney said.
But, he warned Draughn against what he called future acts of violence during protests.
"Anything I do today I'll make it very plain I don't appreciate that behavior," he said. "Seeing neighborhoods burned down and businesses plundered is quite annoying.”
The lawyer representing him at the arraignment said thanks to the lower bail amount, Draughn’s supporters will be able to bail him out and he’ll be able to await his trial at home.