In a celebrated case that involved an attempt by law enforcement authorities to designate AIDS a deadly weapon in a crime, a jury Tuesday acquitted a homosexual accused of biting two San Diego police officers during the 1986 Gay Pride Parade in Hillcrest.
The San Diego Superior Court jury deliberated only one day before finding Brian Barlow, 41, of Long Beach innocent of battery on a police officer and of resisting an officer.
One juror, Russ Hamm, told reporters the jury felt that there wasn’t probable cause for police to have arrested Barlow in the first place. Hamm said the jury felt it had no choice but to acquit Barlow.
Allegedly Ignored Order
Barlow was arrested after police said he ignored an earlier warning to stop harassing members of the Bible Missionary Fellowship who were carrying signs and shouting anti-gay remarks at the June 7, 1986, parade.
Police said Barlow tried to hit a protester, threw her sign down and squirted her with water. The woman was never located for the trial, which began last week.
“We weren’t satisfied there was a crime,” juror Hamm said. “We were not convinced the prosecution proved (its case) without a shadow of a doubt.”
“The jury did its job,” beamed Barlow’s attorney, C. Logan McKechnie. “The jury found these people had no reason to detain Brian Barlow.”
“I’m just happy this ordeal is over with,” Barlow said. “It’s been a major cloud over my head.”
“I was scared to death the whole way,” he said. “There were so many lies told. Evidently, the truth did come out, and that made me feel good.”
Hamm said the jury did not discuss much of McKechnie’s argument that officers had used excessive force in detaining Barlow, because they felt from the beginning that the arrest was unjustified.
Questions Jury’s Attitude
Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregg McClain said afterward that he felt the jurors did not take the case seriously because the officers were only bitten, not shot or stabbed.
“The confrontation should have never occurred,” he said.
Barlow criticized McClain’s mention during his final arguments Monday that the officers had been tested for AIDS antibodies after the bites and had tested negatively.
“AIDS is a very serious issue. I hate to see it used as a political football or, in this case, to inflame the jury,” Barlow said, adding that he does not have the virus.
Police spokesman Bill Robinson said, “We’ve disagreed with verdicts before, and we’ll have to live with it.”
“Based on what I was told by the officers, the detention seemed justified,” he said. “The officers who are assigned to maintain peace at the parade, they were caught between two different factions.”
$2-Million Civil Suit
Barlow has filed a $2-million civil suit against the department and Officers George Ground and Ray Shay, who said they were bitten, and five other officers alleging civil-rights violations.
Ground and Shay have countersued Barlow for $500,000.
The case was delayed because the district attorney’s office tried to upgrade the charges to assault with a deadly weapon--the weapon being the AIDS virus.
Prosecutors were unsuccessful in getting Barlow tested for the virus, although two blood samples were obtained.
The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled April 13, 1987, that “Barlow is not a research subject” and ordered the samples returned to him.
The appellate court also ruled that law forbids anyone from disclosing someone’s AIDS-test results to another party.