Google Engineer Helps Jailed Teen Make It Home for Christmas

File this one under Christmas gifts that will never be forgotten.

Neil Fraser and Jeremy Marks photo compilation via Gawker

Jeremy Marks, a Los Angeles high school student, has been in jail for nearly 8 months for filming a fight between a police officer and another student.

Marks filmed an altercation between an LASPD officer and a 15-year-old student, started because the 15-year-old was smoking at a bus stop. The 15-year-old was hit with officer Erin Robles’ baton, sprayed with mace, and his head was pushed against the window of a bus with enough force to break the window. He was then released without charge. {LA Weekly via Gawker}

Students, including Jeremy Marks filmed the incident, and some began to shout and egg the 15-year-old on. Robles claims that Marks yelled “Kick her ass!” and the name of a LA gang.

Student videos of the incident (view them here and here) show members of the crowd around the scene shouting, but Marks is not one of them. Somewhere along the way, he was arrested on charges of obstructing an officer, resisting arrest, criminal threats and attempted lynching for his alleged shouting at the fight. Marks never became physically involved in the bus incident, and is not accused of doing so.

In addition to the severe charges for allegedly shouting “threats” at the officer, Marks was given a large bail – $155,000 – that his parents were unable to afford. Marks refused a plea agreement which would have seen him serve 7 years in prison, and a later plea which would have brought it down to 32 months (or a little less than 3 years). So, since May, Marks has been sitting in an adult prison for charges stemming from filming an incident and allegedly shouting at a police officer, though video evidence contradicts the accusations that he was shouting.

Enter Neil Fraser, a Google engineer who read about Marks’ story on Reddit. Instead of putting up the $15,500 necessary  for bail – a sum that is gone forever even if the person charged shows up to court and complies with all requirements – Fraser put up $50,000, which will be returned in full if Marks shows up for court dates. Along with Fraser’s contribution Celes King IV, vice-chairman of  the Congress for Racial Equality, and Bail USA posted the $155,000 to get Marks released in time to spend Christmas at home.

Fraser is also contributing $1500 for a defense attorney, which Google will match. It’s unlikely he’ll see any of that money again, even if charges are dropped or Marks is found not guilty. He also sent presents to Marks’ mother to ensure that there are gifts for the teen when gets home.

Fraser said that spending time in Germany taught him that “One of the things I learned was that bad things can only happen if good people do nothing. I consider myself to be a good person, so I had no choice but to act when I saw something like this happening.”

Fraser may consider himself a good person, we consider him an inspiration. Not much of a resemblance to St. Nick, but we’d rather believe in great people anyway.

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