Student expelled after felonious assault charge

Bryan Wroten

BUS, NAACP rallying support for student

A 20-year-old Kent State student has been expelled for allegedly hitting another student with his car.

Malik Griffin, junior computer information systems major, was charged with felonious assault after an April 15 accident involving pedestrian Jason Galt.

Griffin was arrested at his home the night of the incident and spent seven days in jail. Bail was set at $100,000.

He was released after the preliminary hearing in the Kent Municipal Court, during which the prosecutor dismissed the charge per review, often a first step in presenting a case to the grand jury.

Black United Students and the Kent State NAACP chapter are rallying against the expulsion. They held a meeting Friday in Oscar Ritchie Hall to talk to concerned students and clear up confusion about the incident. BUS President Sasha Parker said there will be a letter-writing campaign beginning at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Mbari Mbayo Lecture Hall in Oscar Ritchie Hall to support Griffin.

University policy allows the expulsion of a student for being charged with a felony after a Judicial Affairs conduct hearing. Griffin’s hearing was Thursday and was closed to the public, as all such hearings are.

One of the reasons why BUS and NAACP members are upset by the expulsion is because Galt, senior integrated science major, was not able to attend the conduct hearing. Galt said he was not given enough notice about the hearing and had a medical appointment at the time.

Other than Griffin, his attorney and his two witnesses, two police officers were in attendance, said Mark Buie, Griffin’s attorney.

Lt. Michelle Lee of the Kent Police Department said in conduct hearings, a police officer usually just reads the circumstances of the case from the report. It’s not always the arresting officer either, she said.

“It can be done by any officer,” Lee said.

University policy allows for students with complaints filed against them to cross-examine witnesses during the hearing. Griffin plans to appeal the expulsion.

The details of the night of the incident are unclear. What is known is after 1 a.m. on April 15, Griffin and his friends were stopped behind a PARTA bus at a red light at the intersection of Midway Drive and East Main Street. That’s where the stories diverge.

Galt’s story

Galt said he was walking home from downtown when he saw Griffin and his friends dancing outside of the car with the music playing loudly. He said he walked over to the car to ask them to turn the music down because it was so late. They got back into the car as he approached, Galt said.

“It’s midnight and his music was loud enough you could feel the bass of it,” he said.

Galt said he wanted them to turn the music down because it was disrespectful to the people living nearby. The loud music creates animosity between the community and students, he said.

After walking in front of the car, Galt said Griffin started to bump into him with the vehicle. Galt said he tried to get out of the way of the car, but Griffin accelerated too fast and Galt ended up on top of the car’s hood. He said he was then thrown off the hood of the car and the left rear tire ran over his right foot. The PARTA bus attendant called 911 while other drivers came to help him, Galt said.

While there were no injuries to his foot, Galt said he has injuries on his right side. He went to the Veterans Administration Wade Park facility for medical treatment.

Griffin’s witnesses’ story

Griffin was unavailable for comment. His mother, Gigi Griffin, requested the reporter speak with Buie.

Buie said he was unable to say much about the case because of Griffin’s appeal.

Kendrick Watson, junior pre-journalism and mass communications major, and David Green, sophomore business administration major, were passengers in Griffin’s car. They said Griffin didn’t hit Galt with his car.

Watson said they were on their way to a party when they stopped at the red light. He said while Griffin was dancing outside of the car, he was back in the car before Galt showed up. Watson said Galt approached them with his hands up as if he wanted them to stop. He then put his hands on the car, Watson said.

“The guy (Galt) did not exchange any words with us,” he said. “He did not tell us to turn the music down.”

Watson said they didn’t know what to do because they thought Galt was drunk because of his actions.

Galt, who is in his 30s, said he had been drinking that evening but was not drunk.

Lee said if an officer perceives a person to be drunk, he or she would administer a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test. Because the officer investigating the case did not administer either to Galt, she said Galt was not intoxicated.

Griffin tried to avoid Galt, Watson said, but Galt then climbed on top of the car’s hood. Unsure of what to do, he said Griffin decided to just drive, which is when Galt fell off the car. They drove to the party, Watson said, and Griffin was arrested by police after returning home.

Contact minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].