Carbondale resisting arrest case involving Black man may be headed for restorative justice resolution
A resisting arrest case against a Carbondale man involving a Dec. 24, 2020, incident at the local City Market grocery store and raising questions of racial bias is being continued for another month, despite continued calls from some members of the public that charges be dropped.
But the defendant in the case, Michael Francisco, remains hopeful for a positive outcome that will bring healing in the community.
“I’d rather it be resolved now and the charges dropped at this moment,” said Francisco, a Belize-born Black man who wears a traditional rasta headdress, outside Carbondale Town Hall Monday evening following his municipal court hearing.
On the bright side, though, he said there may be an opportunity to resolve the case through restorative justice between himself, the police, town officials and others involved in the case, “so we can have a positive outlook on this situation.”
Restorative justice is a process that’s become more frequent in the criminal justice system in recent years. It’s common in misdemeanor cases and in juvenile court, where the parties involved go through a mediated process to air out what happened, seek common understanding and work toward solutions.
Whether that happens in the Francisco case remains to be seen. The town prosecutor, Angela Roff, and Francisco and his attorney, Michael Edminister, have been working on a settlement since Francisco’s last municipal court hearing March 8.
An April 12 hearing was continued by mutual agreement, and the case is now continued until May 24.
“I don’t know why they’re stringing this out,” Francisco said. “But I think restorative justice is a platform that we need to be involved with, even if the charges were dropped. I know there has to be a positive result, so everyone can heal.”
Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson has also called for an evaluation of police policies following the incident.
Francisco, 55, is charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstruction for allegedly refusing to show his identification when asked by police to leave the City Market store shortly before 6 p.m. on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, following a complaint from a fuel station attendant.
According to police accounts, the worker called the manager at the main store after Francisco had left after paying to fuel his vehicle and went into the store. The attendant advised the floor manager that Francisco had pointed toward her and made an “angry” facial expression, which she interpreted as threatening.
Edminister has maintained in Francisco’s defense that, after observing video security footage, the finger point in question seemed to be more friendly in nature.
Police Chief Kirk Wilson was at the store at the time and speaking with the manager when the attendant called. The manager asked Wilson to have Francisco removed for trespassing, and officers were called to deal with the situation.
When he was approached at the self check-out station and asked for his identification by the officers, Francisco questioned why he was being contacted and refused to show his ID, according to police accounts.
That led to a physical confrontation in which Francisco was wrestled to the floor and removed in handcuffs. The charges were later leveled at the police station and he was released, according to police records obtained by the Post Independent.
Francisco said that if the officers had explained why he was being asked to leave the store, the situation might not have turned physical.
“I didn’t think I did anything wrong,” Francisco said Monday, reflecting on the evening of the arrest. “I asked them to go get the manager so we could resolve it right there in that moment.”
Francisco also happens to work for City Market, at its Aspen store, and said he knew the manager personally. Had they been able to resolve things at the time, it might have turned out differently, he said.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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