July 21st, 2024

Denver wants case against Marlon Wayans stemming from luggage dispute dismissed

By Colleen Slevin, The Associated Press on October 20, 2023.

FILE - Marlon Wayans attends the "Marlon" FYC Event at UCB Theatre, June 6, 2018, in Los Angeles. In a court filing Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, Wayans said he is being unfairly prosecuted for disturbing the peace over a dispute with an airline employee he alleges targeted him because of his race. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

DENVER (AP) – Denver prosecutors asked a judge on Friday to dismiss a case against Marlon Wayans stemming from a luggage dispute with an airline employee who the actor and comedian said targeted him because of his race.

The city attorney’s office’s request comes a day after Wayans, who is Black, asked for the case to be dismissed and accused prosecutors of perpetuating the discrimination he faced by continuing with the case. Assistant City Attorney Katie Conner did not directly explain why prosecutors wanted the case dismissed, but she suggested that information gathered by Wayans’ lawyers about white passengers being allowed to violate United Airlines’ luggage limit played a role.

One of Wayans’ lawyers, David M. Beller, said a judge has granted the request. He applauded the city’s decision.

“Our community does not need one more innocent Black man wrongfully accused and wrongfully convicted,” Beller said. “I hope this inspires everyone to be more aware of their own implicit and explicit bias.”

A spokesperson for the city attorney’s office did not return an email seeking comment.

Wayans was cited for disturbing the peace, a municipal violation, in June, police said.

According to Wayans’ motion to dismiss the case, a United Airlines gate agent told him he could not get on a flight to Kansas City with three bags. The gate agent tried to physically block Wayans from getting on the flight after he consolidated his luggage into two bags to conform with airline policy, according to the filing. Wayans boarded anyway and was later asked to get off the plane before it departed.

While Wayans was working to rearrange his luggage, the gate agent kept allowing white passengers with three bags to board the flight, according to the court filing, which included still photos from surveillance video of white passengers with yellow arrows pointing to each of their bags. About 140 people boarded the flight, the filing said, many with three bags and oversized bags that violated the airline’s policy.

According to statements recorded on police body camera and cited in the filing, the gate agent told officers that Wayans “shoved,” “pushed” or “elbowed” him as the comedian boarded the plane, which Wayans’ lawyers said was a lie. They say Wayans may have brushed shoulders with the agent as he boarded. In the filing to dismiss the case, Conner said Wayans “brushed past” the gate agent to get on the plane.

The police officers who investigated were doubtful that any crime had been committed, according to Wayans’ filing, but the gate agent asked that charges be pursued.

In the city’s motion to dismiss the case, Conner noted that she had reviewed the information gathered by Wayans’ lawyers and met with the gate agent on Thursday to go over each photo included in Wayans’ filing.

“As a result of information gathered during that interview, it is the undersigned city attorney’s determination that, while probable cause existed at the time of the issuance of the complaint against Mr. Wayans, it is not in the interests of justice to proceed in this case,” Conner said.

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