A jury vindicated a Maryland man who for two years swore he was innocent of trying to kill a police officer.
Kevin Sneed said his two-year fight for justice caused depression and a loss of hope.
“I felt like the system was going to work against me, regardless,” he said.
His trouble began during a traffic stop. In a police report for the incident, a Prince George's County Police officer said he stopped Sneed for a broken taillight and because there was a "robbery in the immediate vicinity the previous night." He said Sneed accelerated during the stop.
The officer reported he jumped into the driver's side window because he feared the driver had a gun. The officer's report also said that after searching the vehicle, no guns or drugs were found.
But Sneed was charged with attempted murder of an officer.
“They told me no bond and they told me what I was actually charged with,” Sneed said. “I said, ‘Just let me go to my cell,’”
Sneed suffered bruises that day. He says he was beaten by the arresting officer.
Eventually Prince George’s County State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy reduced Sneed’s charges to second-degree assault and disorderly conduct and he was offered a plea with no jail time if he'd admit guilt, which Sneed considered for fear of possibly going to jail.
“At the end of the day, I would be a fool to take it and then they play with my life,” Sneed said.
“He felt like he didn't even want to live,” said his mother, Kema Harris.
She got help from the activist group Life After Release, which got Black Lives Matter DC to help Sneed get a new defense team.
“We were able to get a Black Lives Matter support fund for Kevin's defense and get him away from public defenders who didn't have his best interest,” Black Lives Matter Core Organizer Nee Nee Taylor said.
After a two-day trial, a jury found Sneed not guilty on all charges Wednesday.
The Maryland ACLU said Sneed had the kind of help too many defendants can't access.
“People are forced to take these plea deals in which oftentimes they are pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,”
Jay Jimenez of ACLU said.
Sneed said the outcome is a second chance.
“If you did not do anything wrong, fight for your life,” he said.
Braveboy said she inherited the from the previous state's attorney.
“When we received this case, we determined the case had merit,” she said. “We thought it was appropriate to prosecute with reduced charges. We respect the jury‘s verdict.”
The Prince George's County Police Department did not respond to our request for comment.