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Posted on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

Student accused of using crutch as weapon during football brawl heads to trial

By John Counts


Bashir Garain

Courtesy of WSCO

The Pioneer High School student accused of using his crutch as a dangerous weapon during last fall's fight following a football game will continue on to trial.

Bashir Garain appeared in the Washtenaw County Trial Court Tuesday for his final pretrial hearing where Judge Donald Shelton granted the prosecution's request to a week adjournment of the trial's start date.

The trial date had been set for April 1 and is now scheduled to begin April 8. Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Nimish Ganatra requested the adjournment due to a scheduling conflict with an "essential witness" of the prosecution.

Garain's attorney, Walter White, did not object. He told Shelton he still needed to supply a list of witnesses to the prosecutor's office.

Shelton granted the request and the hearing was over in less than five minutes. Throughout the proceedings, Garain silently stood behind he podium wearing a dress shirt, tie and vest. He didn't speak throughout.

When interviewed after the hearing, White would not discount the possibility of a plea deal being struck before the trial begins.

"You get a guaranteed result," White said about a plea deal in general. A trial, on the other hand, "you either win all the way or lose all the way."

White said there have been offers from the prosector's office, though he declined to elaborate on their details. Though there are no other hearings planned before the trial date, a deal could still be struck at this point, he said.

A group of protesters from Ann Arbor Concerned Citizens for Justice were on-hand before and during a hearing in the matter for the second time Tuesday. The group filled a courtroom in the morning where a disposition -- equivalent to a sentencing -- was adjourned in the case of one of the juvenile students in the same on-field fight.

The group says the cases against the three black students are racially motivated and have requested the prosecutor's office to drop all charges against Garain and a third student, a 17-year-old boy due in court April 5. The 17-year-old who appeared in court Tuesday morning already has been found responsible in his case.

Since he is 18, Garain is the only student being charged as an adult, which is why his name is being released. He faces two felony counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery.

The Ann Arbor Board of Education got into the mix last week when it passed a resolution asking the prosecutor's office to "reevaluate the degree of criminalization" of the three students' alleged behavior during the fight.

"We appreciate the support from the community," White said, adding he and his client didn't solicit it.

When asked if the protests have affected the case in any way, White said, "It hasn't so far."

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

the Ann Arbor Reads Book currently is The New Jim Crow. It is not true that African Americans commit more crime. In fact, crime is committed at the same level across ethnicities. Ann Arbor is about 15% African American; why are African Americans the most usual defendents in our Courthouse? Something is terribly wrong with our system of "justice." Call Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice at 663-1870 to learn about discussion sessions re The New Jim Crow, on the fourth Tuesday of each month, through spring of 2013. The meetings are held downstairs in the St. Aidans Episcopal/Northside Presbyterian Churches' building, at 1679 Broadway, at 7pm. See you next tuesday!

Kimberly Mortenson

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

You won't see me. Where are you getting your statistics? Seriously. Nonsense. Saying something untrue, over and over again, does not make it true.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

It looks like Ann Arbor will have its' first show trial.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

I agree, take the race card out and you have a bunch of adrenaline-rushing kids at an exciting football game being giving a lesson by example by full grown adults that it was okay to get brute at games... and these were not just any adults, these particular adults is who the kids looked up to for knowledge and guidance... and for crying out loud it was their teachers! The last I heard that inciting a riot is a crime. Which make me wonder why haven't these adults been held accountable for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and inciting a riot or better yet have any of them (teacher/coach) who acted like their (kids) bosom buddies contributed to their defense funds? Am I missing something?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

The coaches, who are adults responsible for being role models to their players, started this fight. They are suffering few consequences. Since it was a brawl between the 2 teams, everyone should be punished equally or no one should be punished. There are brawls in adult, professional hockey, football, soccer, and baseball. It's rather ridiculous to criminalize teens for following their example and the example of their coaches and the professional athletes whose example they were following.

Friendly Guy

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:01 p.m.

@ Kathy Coles....Who did Bashir assault? You just read and comment like everyone else and dont even know the case. lol

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

So, Gramma, when I see two people yelling at each other and pushing each other, then that gives me - somebody who is not involved in that confrontation - the excuse to pick up a weapon and smack somebody else - who also is not involved in that confrontation? It's like the old western movies. Two guys start fighting in a saloon, then some other guy says, "It's a fight!" and turns around and smacks the closet guy to him. I don't teach my kids that that's OK. My friends don't teach their kids that that's OK. Who's teaching their kids that that's OK?

kathy coles

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

There is a big difference, the head coaches were yelling at each other, an assistant coach shoved another coach. At no time did any of the coaches shove a child down and start kicking them or pick up a weapon and start swinging it around. The majority of the kids from both teams did do the right thing by staying out of it. The 3 in question CHOSE to assault another individual. It seems in this day we always look to blame someone else and not take responsibility for our actions. If my child were to fail a test, I suppose I should blame the teacher because he/she failed to reach him? It had nothing to do with the fact that my child possibly didn't pay attention in class or didn't study enough correct? I suppose it is also possible that every person who has done something wrong it really wasn't their fault - perhaps it was the fault of their parents because they didn't teach them the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, legal and illegal? It takes a much stronger person to walk away from a fight than to fight. I am glad to know that my son is a stronger man because he was on the field that night and he did choose the right thing he walked away! He has a mind and knew that just because someone else is doing it does not mean he has to do it also.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Ok first take the race card out of it, then admit that most crutches now are made of light weight aluminum and then lets just imagine it being your child or young adult and that in the heat of the moment responds in an inappropriate way. Would you want him labeled a voilent felon for the rest of his life. The other day I seen a 6 year old swing a pretty big stick at another kid so should he be tried as a felon albeit a juvenile offender but still a felon. lol get real the charges are trumped up I am not saying there should not be a punishment but it could be a positive moment instead of sending them down a black hole for the rest of there lives.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

I guess you need to go back and read the part about: "Since he is 18, Garain is the only student being charged as an adult" How old was that 6 year old boy again? Oh, yes, 6. See the difference there? If not, please write back for more help.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

You need to look at the rule of 7s, 18 and 6 are far apart.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

Anywhere else this wouldn't be an issue. Commenters ask about the school board's role etc. I say Ann Arborites elect these folks who would stand up for thuggery. The people protesting for these thugs are your neighbors. Ann Arborites, through liberalism you are losing control of your community... and you only have yourselves to blame!

Kimberly Mortenson

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.



Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

Somehow I didn't know assualt had so many reasons to be acceptable. Seems some believe this is completely acceptable behaviour..?? Law is you assualt somebody with a weapon, you go to trial and if found guilty, you pay the price. No excuses. Doesn't matter age, color, bad breath or anything is how it is supposed to work.

kathy coles

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

Greg, I couldn't agree with you more! I don't care what the color if his skin is, he is accused of committing a felony and should therefore be tried and if found guilty then pay the penalty. Everyone keeps saying how these 3 should not be charged with criminal conduct, it will ruin their lives, etc. but what about the victim? Will the scar on his face just disappear? Will the emotional wounds just go away? This innocent young man has had to pay for the violence against him, why shouldn't the accused have to also?

Jay Thomas

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:50 a.m.

Why he's only a child and couldn't hurt a fly.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

I'm on the side of the defendant. An adrenaline-charged crippled teenboy in an emotion-charged situation on a football field of players wearing Pads and Helmets swings his Aluminum crutch around. No Blood. No Broken Bones. Yet Big Bad Prosecutor Brian MacKey wants to felony criminalize this promising Young Teenager for the Rest-of-his-Life! I read these comments and I want to puke! I remain Hopeful that a jury of Bashir's peers will see that a crime did not occur and Acquit the young lad!

Kimberly Mortenson

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

No blood? He missed! And how do you KNOW "no blood" ? Can we afford to ignore unsuccessful assault? Thin soup, as arguments go. No blood!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

Or perhaps his lawyer could take the plea offer instead of banking on the racism accusations?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

Crippled, lol?

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5 a.m.

I think he's referring to the time-honored practice of jury nullification.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:51 a.m.

When you say "peers" do you mean adrenaline-charged, emotion-charged, promising men swinging metallic objects?

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:21 a.m.

What exactly is "promising" about a violent thug who apparently can't even control his own actions?

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

"The group says the cases against the three black students are racially motivated" Still waiting for evidence of this. Still waiting...... still waiting.....

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Truth, what criminal offense would you like the coaches charged with? They can't be charged with something just because you're mad at them, so there needs to be an actual violation of criminal law. What exactly would that be?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

Please see my reply above regarding the logical fallacy of false alternatives and all-or-nothing thinking. I haven't heard anyone suggest these students get off scot-free.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

Were the coaches involved charged with a crime? There's your evidence


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

So Desdemona, anytime a black kid breaks the law we should look the other way? Because anytime we punish a black kid its racist?

Usual Suspect

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Desdemona, it may happen. But where is the evidence that it has played a role in this case? Still waiting.... still waiting.... Are you saying these guys should not be charged because some other person in some other case was charged wrongly?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

It's called institutional racism and the evidence is overwhelming for anyone who cares to look.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

I'm tired of this country getting all up in arms over big government when it comes to regulations that may infringe on corporate profits and yet remaining silent when it comes to big government having complete control over the fate of our children. There is a way to hold our youth accountable for their mistakes and bad behavior that doesn't brand them a felon and give them criminal records that will haunt them the rest of their lives, making it extremely difficult to find employment. The last I heard, they had yet to identify any player that was injured by this student's crutch swing. This case should have been referred to peer mediation or restorative practices. Our extremely costly and ultra-punitive criminal justice system does nothing to support victims or rehabilitate lawbreakers. It's time to reform our system and rehumanize the children in our communities who make mistakes. As many have said, we need to lock up the people we are afraid of, not the people we are mad at. This is a kid who was following the example set by his coach. What does it say about us that we are willing to give up on him so easily and let him become just another statistic?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

Many of these arguments include the logical fallacy of false alternatives or all-or-nothing thinking. I haven't heard anyone say these students should be let off scot-free. It's unfortunate that most people seem to be under the assumption that the only alternatives in these cases are the two extremes--felony conviction or nothing at all. It's a false dilemma. If we care about our youth, we would do more to educate ourselves on the other various alternatives available and make use of those. BTW, for those who say I would feel different if it was someone I cared about, I just want to say that a dear friend of mine was murdered a number of years ago and I eventually found forgiveness in my heart for his murderer. Of course the family member of the victim is going to be angry and has every right to be. I would never expect them to find forgiveness in their hearts, especially not so soon. But I believe that the most compassionate course of action in cases like these involves restorative practices which includes the victim and the victim's family in the conversation about the proper corrective action to be taken against the offendor, as well as involving them in a healing process. The legal system does not offer this type of support to victims or their families.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:01 a.m.

If that were your son laying on the ground being beaten by a crutch and being kicked in the head with someone cleat, would you still feel the same way. I am trying to imagine the anger i would feel if that were my son, and then to have the BOE and ACLU step in and want these cases thrown out, wow!! I think it is so much easier to offer others a second chance when you aren't the one directly affected by someone else criminal behavior.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:20 a.m.

Squidlover - of course not. Guns are evil. Violent grown men who attack people over sports games are A-OK though, as long as they're the right color.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 3:07 a.m.

So Friendly Guy, Would you object to somebody firing a gun at somebody, even if it missed the targeted person?

Friendly Guy

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

Thank you, nobody way hit or injured by the crutch! Over charging just cause he swung it.

Sam S Smith

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Interesting point that no one was identified injured by the crutch swing. Why the felony charge then?

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:10 a.m.

I wasn't aware that anyone suggested life in prison without parole.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:54 a.m.

Well, I don't know about you Angry Moderate, but I've done a couple things in my life that I knew full well I shouldn't be doing. Fortunately, most people believe in giving others a second chance.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

A 18 year old is an adult who makes his own decisions and knows full well that you aren't supposed to beat people with metal objects.

Friendly Guy

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:25 a.m.

People that comment on Bashirs case only saw the piece of a video. Even the reporters dont even report the whole story.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

There were also witnesses to crutch boy. And the fact that he tried to disguise himself by pulling his hood over his head and covering his face before he swung the crutch. He knew what he was doing was wrong. Do the crime, do the time.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

Yes, what you didn't see is the small, poisonous snake about to bite the player on the ground. The crutch wielder was just trying to save him.

Jay Thomas

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Sounds like the Rodney King beating. We didn't get to see all that King did before the beating (which was quite extensive).


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

Kudos to Brian Mackie for attempting to restore order and the rule of law in Ann Arbor public schools. Clearly, the BOE has its head firmly planted in the sand and is ignoring all the illegal behavior and missing many "teaching moments". If the BOE was doing its job, then the prosecuting attorney would not have to step in.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

The actions (or inaction) of AAPS has no bearing on how the County Prosecutor decides whether or not to press charges in such an incident. Had AAPS chosen to take further disciplinary action against these students it would not have changed how they would be treated by the legal system.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Thoughtful, Considering he was the only player on crutches, your comment is rather ridiculous.

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

The administration abdicated its responsibility from the start.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Hard to believe the guy was not even suspended from school.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

Just look at Walled Lake---90 days.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

Huh? Who says that's the maximum? That's the maximum that can be imposed without opening the District up to an appeals process, but it's not the true max.

Friendly Guy

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

The topic was suspension not expulsion, the max suspension was 10 days.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

The "max" is being expelled.

Friendly Guy

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:20 a.m.

Who said he wasn't suspended, yes he was and the max at that.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

Yeah, so much for "zero tolerance for violence." None of the students will take that seriously now that the school board set a precedent.

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.


John Floyd

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

Why are the coaches who started this whole thing with inappropriate behavior still working for the AAPS?

Kimberly Mortenson

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 12:43 a.m.

They are not.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

The coaches both "resigned" their coaching positions months ago.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

That chip must get heavy sometimes...

Robert Granville

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Because consequences only come from some in this world.


Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

That mugshot should be on the ACLU website


Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

At the very least, I'm glad to see that the case appears to be proceeding despite the nonsensical involvement of the School Board and the ACLU.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

I hope the violent thug gets locked up. Anyone who would attack a human being with a weapon over a football game is too unstable to live in civil society.

Kimberly Mortenson

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

Much love to moderates. Far left and far right politics are sooooo ignorant. See my Tappan school comment. This town is beyond idiotic with lets-make-punishment-rates-fair politics. BEYOND idiotic.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

Why would you choose them as role models?

Robert Granville

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Shall I list the professional athlete/role models who are guilty of this very crime?

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

What does that even mean? Are you claiming that this description is inaccurate when it's all on videotape?


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

Thugs come in different varieties. You were there, were you?