Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dragging Death Reveals Louisville Justice

The death of Anthony Graham -- and what happened in the days after his murder -- has roiled the black community.

Graham, a black man, was dragged seven city blocks by a car driven by a white man. The car then struck a brick wall and Graham's head hit a utility pole, killing him.

The driver, Thomas Sewastynowicz, fled the scene but turned himself in the next day. He was permitted to stay out of jail while awaiting trial -- even though he was charged with murder.

Sewastynowicz's release has underscored a perception that Jefferson County's judicial system doesn't always give blacks a fair shake, and findings from a recent report appear to support some of the complaints.

A local commission investigating racial bias in the court system issued a report that said blacks make up a larger portion of the county's jail population than whites, even though more whites are booked into the jail.

Community activists say mistrust of the city's justice system has festered since the fatal shooting of a young black man by a white detective here two years ago.



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