A judge in Madison County, Mississippi on Monday delayed sentencing for 46-year-old Patrick Beadle, a musician from Oregon who was convicted earlier this year for drug trafficking, after Beadle’s mother pleaded with the judge not to lock her son up.
“Judge, I’m asking for mercy for my son,” Tommy Beadle said, according to the Clarion Ledger. “I wouldn’t stand here before you if my son was trafficking in drugs. As a mother, I’m asking you to please don’t lock him up behind bars.”
Beadle was convicted of drug trafficking by an all-white jury in July, after bringing 2.8 pounds of marijuana across state lines on his way back to Oregon from visiting his son in Ohio. It reportedly took the jury less than an hour to reach a verdict.
Despite it being Beadle’s first offense, he faces up to 40 years in prison.
During the course of the trial, Beadle admitted to having the marijuana, but adamantly denied the drug trafficking charges, saying he had a medical marijuana card from the state of Oregon, and was using the marijuana to treat chronic pain in both of knees. His mother also made a point of highlighting their Jamaican heritage, and noted marijuana — though illegal in the country — is commonly used in observance of the Rastafarian religion, which Beadle practices.
Beadle was first arrested in March 2017. The musician, who performs under the name BlackFire, was driving through Madison County with out-of-state plates when he was pulled over by Deputy Joseph Mangino for allegedly driving over the fog line, a claim he denies.
Mangino initially claimed he had smelled a strong marijuana odor as he approached Beadle’s vehicle and ordered Beadle to step outside so he could search the car. According to Mangino, Beadle would not comply, prompting him to use his Taser. An initial report charged Beadle with resisting arrest and careless driving.
Mangino has since recanted some of those statements, however, admitting on the witness stand that Beadle “never resisted arrest after he was charged and handcuffed,” according to the Ledger. The resisting arrest and careless driving charges were later dismissed.
Beadle is far from the only person of color targeted by law enforcement in the state under dubious circumstances. Earlier this year, the ACLU of Mississippi and a New York law-firm filed a federal class-action lawsuit, Brown v. Madison County, against the Sheriff’s Department for excessively pulling over Black residents.
While Black residents make up 38 percent of Madison County’s population, the lawsuit alleges that they accounted for 77 percent of all arrests made by the Madison County’s Sheriff’s Department between 2012 and 2017. The lawsuit goes on to say that 74 percent of arrests made at traffic stops were Black drivers.
“MCSD’s own paperwork confirms that it targets Black citizens for arrest,” Joshua Tom, legal director for the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement in March. “In the course of our class certification discovery, MCSD officials produced template forms that deputies use in the course of their duties, and on those forms from at least two officers appear pre-populated checkboxes marking ‘black,’ ‘male,’ and ‘arrested.’ The evidence will show discriminatory and unconstitutional policing, and we are looking forward to presenting all of the facts as our case moves forward.”