CLAYTON, MO –(KMOX)–Almost two years after the national uproar over health care reform,   a jury has acquitted two labor union activists accused of assaulting a man selling conservative buttons outside a Cogressman Russ Carnahan town hall forum.

Service Employees International Union members Elston McCowan and Perry Molens had been accused of misdemeanor assault in the August, 2009 tussle with button salesman Kenneth Gladney.   The fight caught national attention at a time when there was rampant speculation the union had been dispatched to tamp down opposition to President Obama’s health care reform. 

Jurors heard conflicting testimony in the two-day trial over who actually started the fight, and they viewed video tape showing the end and aftermath of the brawl — but no video showed who threw the first punch. 

img 2178 UPDATE:  Health Care Reform Fistfight Results in Not Guilty Verdict

Acquitted SEIU member Elston McCowan

Gladney, who took the witness stand wearing a neck brace, testified that McCowan had started the fight by cursing him for displaying an offensive President Obama button, and then slapping Gladney’s hand.  Gladney testified that Molens then joined in the attack against him. 

McCowan testified that Gladney was the first to turn what had been a verbal argument into a physical fight.   Molens testified that he came upon a fight in progress and pulled Gladney off his fellow union member McCowan.

McCowan and Molens were represented by high-profile defense attorney Paul D’ Agrosa,  whose legal fees, McCowan said, were paid by the union.  During his closing argument,  D’ Agrosa questioned whether Gladney was wearing a neck brace to the trial for sympathy, saying it reminded him of a “Brady Bunch” episode.

Gladney had testified that he underwent recent neck surgery not related to the August 2009 fight.  Later, outside the court, Gladney told a reporter he belived his neck problems were the result of “blunt trauma” he suffered in the fight.

Gladney was represented by a prosecutor with the St. Louis County Counselor’s office, Shujat Qalbani.   In his closing,  Qalbani asked the jury to “use common sense” in considering whether the shorter and thinner Gladney would have picked a fight with two union members who were bigger and taller than him. 

D’Agrosa countered that Gladney had started the fight, despite his size,  because he was enraged by McCowan calling him an “Uncle Tom” for displaying the negative Obama button.  D’Agrosa also asked the jury to consider that the only participant in the fight with “documented injuries” was McCowan, who had been treated for a dislocated shoulder and broken shoulder bone. 

After the verdict,  the two SEIU members were pleased. “I’m glad that this is over and I won,” McCowan said, “I don’t have anything else to say.”

Molens was more outspoken.  “Finally after two years of lies and distortion the jury got to hear the truth,” Molens said. “They got to see the evidence that wasn’t on Ann Coulter or some right wing blogs, and within 40 minutes they acquitted us.”

img 2176 UPDATE:  Health Care Reform Fistfight Results in Not Guilty Verdict

Acquitted SEIU member Perry Molens

The alleged beating victim,  Kenneth Gladney, left the court house dejected.   “I waited two years for justice and didn’t get it,” Gladney said, “I have to live with this for the rest of my life.   I have to live with the fact that they beat the hell out of me for no reason.”

Gladney gave the St. Louis County prosecutor who handled his case mixed marks.   “How much of a chance did I have with a one-year attorney with a prime attorney like D’Agrosa?”

 (Copyright KMOX)

Comments (23)
  1. Robert M says:

    They were acquitted. Too bad for Ken the injuries he sustained in the assault-that-apparently-didn’t-happen couldn’t be acquitted as well…..

    1. Fred says:

      Too bad he had to tell the truth under oath and then lie to reporters

      “Gladney had testified that he underwent recent neck surgery not related to the August 2009 fight. Later, outside the court, Gladney told a reporter he belived his neck problems were the result of “blunt trauma” he suffered in the fight.”

      1. mzk1 says:

        Um, you can’t speculate in court. I’d rather drink tea than koll-aid.

  2. Brett says:

    Oh he got injured? Well maybe he shouldn’t have gotten into a fight. That generally happens when you lose fights. He probably shouldhave won.

  3. Sue says:

    It looked like a scam anyway.

    1. mzk1 says:

      There is clear video of them beating him to a pulp. How come it wasn’t shown over and over like the Rodney King video

  4. Maggie says:

    A bunch of fat, sweaty white thugs attack a small, black man for speaking out about what he believes and this is condoned in a court of law. I was there and the illiterate thugs were twice the size of this man. I hope Gladney gets a taser so that the next time he can level the playing field against these degenerates. The attack on Gladney wasn’t the act of men but of animals and they should be shunned like the rabid animals they are.

    1. FieryLocks says:

      Yeah, sure you were there scammer. How much is Gladney paying you to be part of his lie? Get over it and get over yourself…you scammers lost.
      Stupid Tea Turds.

    2. Fred says:

      I guess its okay to play the race card if you’re a teahadist?

      1. Maggie says:

        Pointing out the Democratic Party’s history of subjugating African Americans since the time of slavery is not using the race card it’s a verifiable fact that every hard won civil rights victory was won solely by Republicans up until the 1964 Civil Rights Acts (where the R support far outweighed the pitiful D support) but you don’t know your party’s history. You will mouth all day long about hypocrisy but when it stares you in the face you act stupid…”Racism? What racism?” As for getting paid by Gladney, I never met him before that day and haven’t spoken to him since so if he’s got money for me that’s news to me, but because of your underwhelming intellect FieryLocks as illustrated by your post, I don’t expect you to understand how pathetic your argument really is. For you to assail the intelligence of anyone without a hint of self-irony has GOT TO BE A JOKE!

  5. FieryLocks says:

    Kenneth Gladney needs to get a job and stop trying to fleece the system with his phoney injuries. Take the neck brace off Gladney, your little farce is over…scammer.

  6. Phil says:

    Molens was the only one that was injured? Dislocated shoulder? That can happen when two big SIEU thugs get too stimulated after ganging up and beating a harmless and diminutive man 1/2 their size. They fist each other to get off, and injuries are known to occur.

    Gladney didn’t have a chance against these two brutes or against the full force of the union and their high-paid attorneys.

    Thank God Almighty that unions are being deservedly dismantled as we speak.

    1. ffakr says:

      I’ve seen the video, have you? Did you see one of those “big SIEU” thugs on the ground? Did you see Gladney walking around without a scratch on him after they supposedly “beat the hell out of me”. Did you see his video two days later when he showed up in a wheel chair pretending to be incapable of walking?

      The video is out there. Take a look. Gladney could hardly be a bigger con-man if he slapped a passing car fender and fell on the ground screaming.

  7. Lee says:

    The Jury was stacked w/ Liberals.

    1. ffakr says:

      yes, clearly.. if the outcome is more in line with the evidence (which you’re free to watch on-line) than with your paranoid phantasies.. yes, it’s clearly a liberal conspiracy.

      Here’s the Gladney video of him getting the hell beat out of himself (according to the con-man himself)..

      You’ll see it starts with Gladney standing over a SEIU member who’s been laid out on the ground. A second SEIU member pulls Gladney off him. Gladney (in the beige shirt) is later seen walking around with absolutely no apparent injuries. Two days later he’s wheelchair bound posing for the cameras as the right-wing poster boy of the week. funny how he had delayed onset paralysis after he knocked down that union member.

    2. TreadingWater says:

      There were two self-identified tea party sympathizers on the jury. The verdict has to be unanimous. In 40 minutes, all twelve jurists returned a not guilty verdict. What do you know that that jury (including 2 tea partiers) didn’t?

  8. Health care law says:

    Healthcare is the primary accountability which is most in your hands the way you preserve that and also protect this with regular insurance.student health plan

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