Pennsylvania: Many charges dismissed, dropped in civil rights march clash

Pennsylvania
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BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) — A judge dismissed the most serious charge against a man accused of shooting a civil rights activist during a confrontation in rural Pennsylvania with a group of marchers on their way to Washington D.C. from Milwaukee last summer.

Bedford County Judge H. Cyril Bingham dismissed the felony aggravated assault charge and several simple assault counts against 52-year-old Terry Myers following a five-hour preliminary hearing last week. District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts withdrew a criminal mischief charge and other simple assault and reckless endangerment counts.

The judge ruled Myers should stand trial on seven other reckless endangerment charges and one harassment charge in the Aug. 24 shooting of 37-year-old Orsino Thurman of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“There’s a sense of relief that the most serious charges are gone, but there is a level of disappointment they weren’t all dismissed,” defense attorney Matt Zatko said, according to The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat. He has maintained that his client fired in self-defense.

Thurman, who did not appear for the hearing, faces simple assault and reckless endangerment charges as well as a charge of illegal possession of a firearm.

The group of about 20 had set out early in August 2020 on a 745-mile march from Milwaukee to the nation’s capital to mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”

Late on Aug. 24, 2020, the group stopped alongside rural Route 30 in Bedford County near the towing garage and home of Myers’ father, who saw them outside and yelled at them to leave. Police said there was no indication that they heard him.

A state police affidavit said Terry Myers arrived and fired twice in the air with a shotgun, then scanned the crowd with his gun and fired after seeing two flashes, hitting Thurman in the face, The Tribune-Democrat reported. Two pistol shots then rang out and Myers responded with another blast, police said, citing footage they had reviewed. Thurman was recorded moments later saying Myers “shot me with the buckshot. I hit him, too,” the report said.

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