Black man faces 15 years & white man gets one year for same crime, judge blasts prosecutor
There are times when racial bias is so blatant it’s impossible to ignore, and according to a judge in Memphis, the case of two drug dealers facing drastically different charges for the exact same drug deal – is one of those times.
According to The Commercial Appeal, U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. is raising questions about what he believes has been a pattern of prosecutors charging African-American defendants more harshly than white defendants for similar crimes. Fowlkes called out at least three different cases in recent weeks where racial bias seemed to be a factor.
One case that drew Fowlkes attention involves two drug dealers – one white, one Black – who traveled together to a Wendy’s parking lot in East Memphis to sell a man 100 ecstasy pills for $800.
The Black man stayed in their vehicle as a lookout with a gun between his legs while the white man got into the buyer’s vehicle to actually sell the drugs. Unfortunately for both of them, the buyer turned out to be an undercover Memphis police officer.
Both men entered guilty pleas after being caught red-handed, and yet the black man, 38-year-old Mario Silas, got a long prison term of 15 years, imposed by Fowlkes on Nov. 28th. And in stark contrast, the white man, 34-year-old Jared Weatherly, faced a drug case, but no gun charge and the prosecution only asked for a one-year sentence.
The judge asked prosecutors to explain why they didn’t charge the white defendant with a gun crime, too, since he was working directly with the armed black man during the drug deal.
“This is another situation where a white defendant appears to have been treated differently than African-Americans, and I’m concerned about how we’re proceeding in this case,” Fowlkes said during the November 19th hearing.
The prosecutor, J. William Crow, claims he didn’t have faith that he could successfully charge the white defendant but maintains that his office does not discriminate based on race.
“I apologize to the court if you’ve ever thought that I or anyone in our office is taking race into account in what we charge because that’s just not the truth,” Crow explained, according to the transcript.