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BLOOMINGTON — Rowdy behavior by a large group of partygoers took a backseat to racism by Bloomington police in a 2013 fight outside a restaurant, a lawyer argued Tuesday at the trial of a woman charged with hitting a police officer during the melee.

Gabriela Calhoun, 19, was among several hundred people who on June 13, 2013, went to a party at Lucky Garden restaurant on Eldorado Road. A large crowd who were turned away from the party because of space limitations gathered in the nearby Denny's parking lot, according to police.

Bloomington police were called to Denny's after several fights broke out among Lucky Garden party guests.

In opening statements at Calhoun's trial on felony charges of aggravated battery and resisting a police officer, defense lawyer Steve Skelton said the people involved in the conflict had a common trait.

"They were black," he said, and the response to them by police showed "racism, bias, unfairness and injustice."

Calhoun may have unintentionally bumped into a Bloomington officer as she followed her boyfriend, who was being taken out of the restaurant by police, but she did not shove him, said Skelton.

Calhoun, 19, was grabbed by the arm and taken to the ground by a female officer and "lands face first on the concrete," said Skelton.

Calhoun lost two front teeth and suffered abrasions. In the scuffle, her tube top was pulled down to her waist, a condition she could not correct after she was handcuffed.

Skelton said Calhoun was walked down the sidewalk, topless to the waist, to the squad where an officer told her "fix it yourself."

"Maybe in addition to being black, they thought she was a contortionist," said Skelton.

In her opening remarks, Assistant State's Attorney Samantha Walley said police had been monitoring the large gathering when they received a call about a possible stabbing at Denny's.

Denny's staff asked police to clear everyone out who was involved in the fight and those who came with them, said Walley.

Officers were "met with resistance," said Walley.

Calhoun shoved the officer multiple times as she left the business, the prosecutor said.

In addition to the testimony of people who attended the party and police officers, the jury will see a surveillance video from the restaurant. The city has said previously that the video supports officers' version of events.

The trial will resume Thursday at 9 a.m.


McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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