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Pro se plaintiff gets to try case against officers

A man who won reversal of a rape conviction due to police misconduct has won the right to try his civil rights case against the officers.

Acting without a lawyer, Engram Bellamy of Waynesboro sued the officers who secretly recorded his incriminating comments while he was hospitalized for an asthma attack.  At the time, Bellamy had been indicted for forcible rape, was represented by counsel, and was not clearly advised of his Miranda rights while being questioned.

Bellamy was convicted after a jury heard his incriminating statements, but in 2005 the Virginia Court of Appeals reversed,  saying the officers had obtained the statements “through deception and duplicity.”

Now, U.S. District Judge Samuel G. Wilson has given the green light to a trial against those officers by denying the officers’ motion for summary judgment, rejecting their defense of qualified immunity.  Bellamy scored his civil legal victory while acting as his own attorney, submitting  handwritten pleadings on notebook paper.  He is seeking $25 million for violation of his constitutional rights.

Bellamy, 45, served three-and-a-half years for the alleged 2002 rape.  After reversal of his first conviction, Bellamy was able to negotiate a plea deal for time served in 2006.  Published reports indicate the reliability of his accuser was called into question.

Bellamy reportedly devoted his time in jail to legal research.

One of the defendants has been twice stung by secret recordings.  Former Waynesboro policeman Brent Uzdanovics recently quit his job as an investigator for the Department of Motor vehicles after a recording came to light in which he unleashed a profane tirade against a suspect.

By Peter Vieth

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