Jeremy Marks, a Verdugo Hills High School student jailed for eight months for "attempted lynching" after he used his cell phone camera to videotape a campus police officer striking a 15-year-old at an MTA bus stop, was finally home with his family on Christmas Eve.
A Google engineer from San Francisco heard about Marks' plight, in an exclusive story by Katharine Russ for LA Weekly that created widespread outrage. Here's why the Google engineer, Neil Fraser, posted $50,000 to get the 18-year-old out of the tough, adult, Pitchess Detention Center:
Neil Fraser is tentatively slated to appear Sunday, Dec. 26 on MSNBC to talk about why he helped a stranger -- a boy with a troubled background whose parents transferred him to Verdugo Hills to help him get a fresh start. Fraser also put $1,500 toward Marks' defense, which was matched by Google.
Marks was welcomed outside the jail the night of Dec. 23 by his brother and mother, Rochelle Pittman, a part-time swimming pool attendant who for months couldn't raise his $155,000 bail. The bail was hiked up after Los Angeles County District Attorney prosecutors insisted Marks was a gang member.
His long incarceration fueled deep public anger because Marks touched no one, and his only weapon was his cell phone camera.
Two YouTube vidoes taken by other students with their own cell phone cameras show Marks speaking once as Los Angeles School Police Department officer Erin Robles repeatedly pushes a younger boy against an MTA bus.
Robles and the younger boy physically grappled, and Robles hit the 15-yer-old with her baton and sprayed him with mace. Marks and numerous other students waiting at the bus stop last May looked on.
Fraser's explanation to the Weekly for why he stepped forward to help a young stranger has been widely repeated: "bad things can only happen if good people do nothing."
Jeremy Marks was arrested and charged with a pile-on of felonies, and another LAUSD cop who was not present at the bus stop altercation named Jeremy Marks as the student who called out "Kick her ass!"
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Prosecutors claim that yelling that phrase while an officer is subduing an uncooperative teenager is tantamount to "attempted lynching," defined in California law as trying to incite a riot to help a suspect get free of the police.
Hundreds of comments at the LA Weekly's website and nationally expressed outrage, with a minority of commenters taking the side of the police.
Robles actions led to a cascading series of events. It all began when she approached the 15-year-old at the bus stop -- allegedly for smoking either a cigar or joint -- and the boy resisted her.
Marks, an observer of the altercation, faced seven years in jail, and now prosecutors want him to accept 32 months.