An armed robber had his mouth taped shut during his sentencing at a US court in an incident slammed as “humiliating” and “wrong”, by a civil liberties organisation.
Franklyn Williams reportedly interrupted Judge John Russo repeatedly during his hearing at Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and was warned several time to be quiet.
The 32-year-old complained about authorities removing his possessions from his cell, and only meeting his attorney “the other day” – complaints Judge Russo said were raised at the wrong time.
“Mr Williams, I’m the judge in the matter,” Judge Russo said, before adding: “Shut your mouth and I will tell you when you can talk. You got it?”
Williams continued to complain, claiming the judge was not letting him tell his side of the story.
Judge Russo, who was sentencing Williams over charges including aggravated robbery, kidnap and theft, eventually lost his patience and ordered officers to gag him.
He told Williams: “I’m gonna tape it and then I’ll unzip it when I want you to talk.”
As officers surrounded him, the judge also warned: “Spit on, and attempt to bite, or injure any of my deputies and you’re gonna have a bad day.”
Court officers then wrapped red duct tape around Williams’ mouth - but that still didn’t keep him quiet. He continued to talk and his voice remained audible despite the gag.
The incident on Tuesday outraged the Ohio branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, with attorney Elizabeth Bonham saying that “everything about this is wrong”.
“We cannot regard this as normal. It is humiliating,” she added.
“It doesn’t just deprive this person of the opportunity to speak before his life is taken away, it steals his dignity.
“Everything about this is wrong.”
Williams had previously been sentenced to 14 years for the crimes after pleading guilty, but won an appeal when a jury found he had been misinformed about his possible early release date.
During his re-trial, Williams cut his ankle bracelet and disappeared, eventually turning up in Nebraska.
He was eventually sentenced to 24 years jail.