White Victim. Black Shooter.
When the police arrived at the scene, her husband described the man who ran away with her purse - over 6ft tall, 20-25, skinny.
About 2 ½ hours after the murder, Butler was walking nearby in the same neighborhood. His skin color was the only characteristic that fit the profile, yet he was picked up by police and taken to the crime scene for a show-up.
But for the three detectives who interrogated him, he was their guy.
They intimidated him and threatened his family. One of the detectives, a 240-pound former high school football lineman, punched him in the stomach, hard enough for Butler to fall to his knees. He hit him in the left eye and threatened to continue to hit him every 10 seconds that passed if Butler didn’t confess.
Butler said police beat a confession out of him and didn't let him call his parents until he signed it 12 hours after his arrest.
The detectives asked him many questions but never called his family or neighbors to verify where Butler was, what he was doing, or who he was with during the day of the murder.
They never searched his home to find evidence. They never asked him where he got the gun or the ammo. They never even arranged for an attorney in his defense. Why?
According to the detectives, they already had a positive ID. That’s really all that mattered.
The trial lasted 10 days, but it only took the jury 45 minutes to find Brenton Butler not guilty.
Lack of evidence, coupled with conflicting and implausible testimonies given by the detectives in the courtroom, lead to Butler’s freedom. Following the acquittal, the individual actually involved in the murder was arrested with the assistance of Butler’s trial attorneys.
In the documentary, attorney Ann Finnell of the Jacksonville Public Defender's Office offered an interesting point of view regarding why Brenton Butler was grabbed by police in the first place:
The only reason Brenton Butler was even stopped that morning was because he happened to be a black male walking in the neighborhood. Now think about that. That means for every African-American in Jacksonville, Florida - if they happen to be walking down the street, lawfully going about their own business, not doing anything wrong - that they are subject to being stopped and asked to get in a police car and driven away from what they're doing and subject to being shown to the victim of a crime with the possibility that that victim would identify them under the most suggestive of circumstances, that being that they happen to be sitting in the backseat of a police car. And most victims would think that they wouldn't be sitting in the backseat of a police car unless they've done something wrong, right? So that's where we are today in Jacksonville, Florida. And I personally find that to be disgusting and reprehensible.