A crowd stood in a rough circle - hands clenched together, heads bowed - outside of the courthouse minutes before Northwest senior Kylan Harrell accepted a guilty plea agreement to resisting arrest.
Harrell was out at Molly’s Party Club March 15 when he realized a friend he came with was no longer in sight. Harrell searched around for his friend and found him being escorted out the front door of Molly’s by a Maryville police officer.
Harrell said he tapped on the arm of the arresting officer, asking what was going on. The officer shouted something Harrell couldn’t hear and turned away. Harrell reached for the officer’s shoulder again, this time being thrown to the ground and arrested by another Maryville police officer.
Harrell spent the next 12 hours in a holding cell, without being told his charges. Harrell said he was told he could be let out of the holding cell if he agreed to wear a scat bracelet for the next three months. Harrell agreed.
On Tuesday afternoon in the Nodaway County Courthouse Robert Sundell, Harrell’s lawyer, turned around from his seat at the defense table blankly scanning the 10 full rows of the gallery, face lighting up when his eyes landed on Harrell. Harrell stood and made his way to take the empty seat next to Sundell.
Judge Douglas Thompson entered the courtroom and read Harrell’s plea agreement aloud.
Harrell pleaded guilty for count 3, resisting arrest Sept. 10. Counts 1 and 2 for assault of a police officer were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Thompson told Harrell his 48-hour jail time sentence would begin 6 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Nodaway County Jail. Harrell corrected the judge on his name pronunciation and said he understood.
“I’m innocent,” Harrell said after the trial. “I’m 100% innocent.”
Harrell said he had less than 48 hours to decide to either accept the plea deal or try to fight the three charges.
“I didn’t want to plead guilty, but I got the short end of the stick,” Harrell said. “If I didn’t plead guilty to resisting arrest, I would have had a slim chance of winning the other two counts. I would rather take this and continue my fight with the justice system.”
According to the police report, Harrell “slapped my hands and pushed me in the chest with both of his hands,” when the second arresting officer attempted to stop Harrell from touching the first officer again.
The second arresting officer struggled to gain control of Harrell briefly and was able to take him into custody with the help of other officers, according to the police report.
Harrell’s trial is a small piece of a bigger picture. Harrell said minority students do not feel safe in Maryville because of the police force. He said his experience is not uncommon.
Harrell hosted an informational meeting a day prior to his trial in front of the J.W. Jones Student Union. There, he asked for support and for everyone to meet him 15 minutes before the start of his trial to pray outside of the Nodaway County Courthouse. He hopes his trial shines a light on what minority students are experiencing when they leave campus.
Isaiah Massey, a friend of Harrell’s, attended Harrell’s trial. Massey said the situation, though unfortunate, is one things that “just comes with it.”
“It’s one of those things that happens on a day-to-day basis with everybody,” Massey said. “Everybody when it comes to us.”
Harrel’s trial lasted all of five minutes. The judge closed the case, a collective sigh of knowing the end all too well was released throughout the gallery as all stood to leave.