Huntsville AL November 8 2019
A security guard was acquitted of an assault charge in an incident that left a Huntsville high school student seriously injured.
A Madison County jury on Tuesday evening delivered a not guilty verdict.
John Phillips, 36, had been indicted on a felony assault charge for “slamming” Steven Franklin to the ground at Jemison High last year, court records show.
Franklin was a 15-year-old sophomore at the time and underwent brain surgery after suffering a cracked skull, seizure and internal bleeding.
Phillips’ defense attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“We’re certainly disappointed. We felt it was criminal,” said Madison County Chief Trial Attorney Tim Gann. “But we can understand why the jury reached the verdict that it did. He (Phillips) was a guy doing a very difficult job.”
Phillips worked for a private company doing security work at Jemison when the incident happened on May 21, 2018. He encountered Franklin while breaking up a fight on campus.
Gann said Franklin was trying to re-engage in a fight with another student when Phillips intervened, picked up the teen and slammed him on the ground.
“It almost killed (Franklin),” Gann said.
The jury watched video of the situation at trial.
Franklin and his family are suing Phillips and EPSCO, the private security company. The civil case was put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal trial. A civil trial date hasn’t been set.
The burden of proof in criminal cases is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil cases have a lower burden — preponderance of the evidence — requiring that more than half of the evidence prove the plaintiff’s case.
Phillips and EPSCO have denied wrongdoing in documents filed in the civil case.