5 face felony rioting charges
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Five of seven women charged with felony rioting after a fight with a city policewoman on the South Side will have their cases bound over for consideration by a Mahoning County grand jury.
Jamalia Abrams, no age or address given; Alicia Davis, 20, of Winona Avenue; Ronisha Harris, 21, of Columbus Street, Struthers; Britany West, 20, of Winona Avenue; and Janeica Abrams, no age or address given; appeared before Judge Elizabeth Kobly for a preliminary hearing Monday.
Two other women — Briyanna Littlejohn, 20, of Montclair Avenue, Boardman, and her sister, Brittany Littlejohn, 21, of Eastway Drive — also are facing charges in the incident.
Janeica Abrams waived her right to have a preliminary hearing, but Judge Kobly decided to allow the felony cases against the remaining four women to go before a grand jury after hearing testimony from the officer who reportedly was assaulted — Officer Bridget Quinn — and a witness who saw the incident and called 911.
Quinn took the stand first and offered details of what took place when she was called to the scene of a fight just after 7:30 p.m. March 10 on East Boston.
Quinn said she arrived at the location of the fight to find about eight woman standing outside of two cars engaged in a verbal altercation. She said she tried to separate the women, but Briyanna Littlejohn tried to attack one of the other women.
Quinn said she attempted to place Littlejohn under arrest, but the woman jumped into the back seat of one of the cars and began to wrestle with her and resist arrest. She said multiple other women at the scene began to fight with her as she attempted to pull Briyanna Littlejohn out of the car and make the arrest.
“It seemed like everyone was on me. It was a big chaotic melee,” Quinn said. “Besides Briyanna Littlejohn, I don’t know who was on my back; I don’t know who was at my arms. I was in the middle of a big melee.”
Quinn admitted, upon questioning from attorneys defending the four women in the preliminary hearing, that she could not individually identify each of the women who may have attacked her, except to say that they were present when the incident took place.
A witness who called 911 when the two carloads of woman first began to argue told the court she witnessed the attack on the officer by a woman in one car, but did not see the woman from the second car — a tan car — get out of the vehicle at all.
Attorney Pete Klimis, representing Jamalia Abrams, asked that charges against his client be dismissed because there was no true evidence that she was present during the melee or had a hand in assaulting Quinn.
Attorneys Robert Duffrin, Terry Grenga and Kelly Linger, representing Davis, Harris and West, respectively, all argued that charges against their clients should be dismissed based on testimony from the eyewitness who said no one exited the tan car the women were in. They each said there was no probable cause to show that their clients engaged in any act of violence.
Bassil Ally, an assistant city prosecutor, argued that Quinn testified that all the women were present and engaged in a fight or act of violence to justify the rioting charge.
Judge Kobly immediately rendered her decision to send the cases to the grand jury, which generated a reaction from several people sitting in the audience.