Tompkins DA Withdraws Agreement Offer in Commons Incident

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – The main courtroom in the Tompkins County Courthouse was filled. About 150 people had come to sit in silent support for Rose de Groat at a Lafler hearing on Monday afternoon.

Tompkins County District Attorney Matt van Houten withdrew an offer to de Groat, one of the defendants in the Commons incident. De Groat is one of two black people charged in the April incident. Video showed de Groat and a black man, Cadji Ferguson, being pushed to the pavement. At one point Ferguson is tased. Throughout the arrest bystanders yelled at the police. 

The agreement would have resulted in all felony charges being dropped against Rose de Groat in exchange for a mediation process.

Celia Clarke/WSKG

Rose de Groat (left) and Cadji Ferguson (right) outside Tompkins County Courthouse on August 26, 2019 (Celia Clarke/WSKG)

Instead, the D.A. offered a plea agreement in a hearing on Monday afternoon. De Groat would have to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and one year probation. 

De Groat initially faced felony charges that were reduced then reinstated then reduced again.

In court, de Groat refused the new plea agreement.

“It kinda felt like there would be a target on my back,” she said outside the courtroom. “I would just be terrified to make a mistake or do anything.”

“I didn’t know what to expect but I didn’t expect this outcome,” de Groat added.

An internal police investigation found no wrongdoing by the police officers involved.

Black Lives Matter Ithaca and other social justice groups have organized demonstrations outside court hearings and even Common Council meetings. A spokesperson said they will continue to show up at hearings and push for all charges against both de Groat and Ferguson are dropped.

De Groat’s trial is set for November 4th. Ferguson has a hearing on this Friday.