Updated: Amid Flurry of Motions, Jury Selection Begins Today for Askia Sabur


Editor’s Note: In keeping with the Tao of Journalism, we have corrected the name of the Assistant District Attorney cited in yesterday’s report. We apologize for the error.


Six jurists were selected this afternoon. Remaining selection begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Criminal Justice Center, Room 908. Askia Sabur’s trial could begin tomorrow afternoon after jury selection is complete.


After an over two-year delay in the trial of Askia Sabur, jury selection is set to begin this afternoon as the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office this morning successfully filed a motion to withhold Officer Jimmy Leocal’s seven year history of excessive force complaints from being admitted in court.

An Internal Affairs investigation of Leocal’s conduct the night of Sabur’s arrest met the threshold for a Police Board Inquiry, which is still pending. Officer Donyule Williams, Leocal’s partner, was cleared of wrongdoing by Internal Affairs however.

Assistant District Attorney Carolyn A. DeLaurentis’ additional motion to bar a controversial video of Askia Sabur’s beating at the hands of Leocal was overruled by Judge Roger F. Gordon and will be admitted as evidence in the trial.

After Carolyn A. DeLaurentis’ motion was filed to exclude that video, Sabur’s defense team, led by Evan Hughes and Larry Krasner, reviewed two videos of the incident which occurred in West Philadelphia in 2010, as Judge Gordon and the prosecution looked on.

This second video of Sabur’s arrest, displayed on a large HD television in court, revealed Leocal not only brandishing a firearm and pointing it at onlookers that night – which could clearly be seen in the first video which went viral and received attention on national television – but also showed the officer grabbing the eyewitness’s camera, a detail neither side was apparently aware of until this morning.

Askia Sabur is charged with Aggravated Assault against a police officer, Attempting to Disarm a Law Enforcement Officer, Simple Assault, Reckless Endangerment, and Resisting Arrest for an incident that occurred September 3, 2010 outside a Chinese restaurant in West Philadelphia.

Charges against Sabur for assaulting Officer Leocal have already been dismissed due to Leocal’s failure to appear at Sabur’s preliminary hearing on November 17, 2010. Charges remain for the alleged assault on Officer Donyul Williams, who testified at the November hearing that Sabur had injured Leocal and attempted to take his baton and gun.

Follow The Declaration for continuing updates on the Sabur trial.

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