The Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP has joined the chorus of supporters who are defending a local judge who was asked to resign. The local police union made the demand after Judge Erika Ballou stated comments to a defendant the officers viewed as anti-police.
In a statement released this week, the NAACP said the judge’s words, “reflect the grim reality for African Americans” in Clark County and elsewhere in the US, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Her statements reflect not only her truths but also the community’s truth,” the NAACP said in its response. “People of color and African Americans in particular are disproportionally killed by police.”
Between 2017 and 2021, some 31 percent of the individuals who were shot by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police (LVMPD) officers were Black, KTNV, a local TV station, reported. Blacks make up roughly 10 percent of the population in Nevada, the 2020 census revealed.
Nothing in Judge Ballou’s statements were untrue and the LVPPA’s position on this issue reflects its defensiveness based partly on the fact that the truth hurts,” the NAACP said.
But last week the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (LVPPA) said the judge’s comments were “unethical and irresponsible.”
Ballou rejected the allegation. In a statement emailed to Casino.org last week, she said “I support proper law enforcement.
“What the record shows, is that I communicate with those who appear before me in a manner that is straight-forward and understandable,” Ballou said.
Fearing For Lives
What did she say to the defendant during a hearing?
You’re a Black man in America, you know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are,” Ballou was quoted. “You listen to me, you know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are. Because I know I don’t, and I’m a middle-aged, middle-class Black woman. I don’t want to be around where the cops are because I don’t know if I’m going to walk away alive or not.”
That led the union to post on Twitter:
“Hey, Judge, you are a disgrace to the bench. You have dishonored the robe you wear. You need to resign immediately,” the union said.
The unnamed defendant allegedly committed battery against a police officer, according to official reports. Prior to this hearing, he had been placed on probation. Prosecutors were trying to end the probationary period.
Ballou agreed the man violated his probation, according to KLAS, another local TV station. She ended the probation and lowered the sentence. It was between 24 and 60 months. It is now between 19 and 48 months.
“It is our position that Judge Ballou imposed the adequate sentence while counseling the defendant that he ‘should have walked away,’” the NAACP statement said.
The NAACP also rejected the police union’s demand that Ballou be to be scrutinized by a judicial ethics investigation.
Frank Rudy Cooper, who teaches law at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law — where he also directs the Program on Race, Gender & Policing — last week called the situation “a shame,” and said, “It is disappointing that the police union thinks it can bully our judges.”
Cooper said Ballou is “clearly one of the best judges in Nevada,” and she can express her personal opinions.
“Judge Ballou was showing empathy for feelings that many racial minority civilians feel,” Cooper told Casino.org. “If the police union doesn’t like that opinion, they should change it by demonstrating that they care equally for all of the populace. Many of them do act in that way. So they shouldn’t need to try to bully people who disagree with them.”
Social Media Support
Similar support for Ballou came from posters on Casino.org.
“She isn’t telling any lies,” Ed posted on the site. “Police unions should be held financially responsible for the settlements cities pay out for police misdeeds.”
I applaud this judge and any other judge trying to make a difference in how the police use their weapons,” Chris Wood posted on Casino.org “…im not black but have treated … recklessly by the police without giving them reason…thanks judge Ballou!”
Ballou got national attention six years ago for wearing a Black Lives Matter button in court when she was a public defender. A veteran Las Vegas judge, Douglas Herndon, who now sits on the Nevada Supreme Court, asked her to remove the button. Eventually, she took it off but denied that it was a political act.
The police union did not respond to requests for additional comment.
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