Occupy Denver: DA drops felony assault on police officer charge that got John Sexton fired

An early morning phone call with John ("J.T.") Sexton reveals two things: He is good with mornings, and he is elated. For the past two weeks, an investigation for felony assault on a police officer has trailed the Occupy Denver protester like a minor plague, and it has ruined both his career (fired) and his reputation (tarnished) in its wake. Last night, then, was a rebirth of sorts: Although Sexton was unsurprised to hear it, the defense attorney's office dropped the investigation.

Instead, the charge has been remanded back to the city attorney's office, which means Sexton now faces city ordinance violations of resisting an officer and creating a public disturbance. The news is a small victory, particularly given that the felony investigation cost him his job as an insurance salesman, but it serves to clear up a murky back story.

In the weeks following his arrest, Sexton's name was consistently tied to accusations that he was the protester who pushed over a police car -- despite the fact that video evidence proved the opposite.

Courtesy of Tanner Spendley
Courtesy of Tanner Spendley
John Sexton is placed in a chokehold during interaction between police and Occupy Denver.

"It's a tiny victory, but we're still fighting," Sexton says. "I knew I wasn't guilty in the first place and knew there was no case against me, so I can't say I was really surprised by it. I lost my job and with it being reported in the press, there was some defamation of character. One false charge can ruin someone's life."

In the meantime, however, there is comfort: Sexton's original bail, posted by someone whose identity he still doesn't know, was set at $20,000, a level higher than any other case related to Occupy Denver so far. With the felony investigation officially removed from Sexton's case, he is free to participate more heavily in Occupy Denver -- and no longer risks jail time away from his black lab Whiskey.

For me, these charges just put it out there how messed up the justice system is," Sexton says. "The system system doesn't work for you; it works against you. Now that this charge is dismissed and I don't have a $20,000 bond, I can be more active instead of running away when cops are there."

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Occupy Denver profile: John Sexton says he was falsely accused of felony assault on cop."

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