A Philadelphia jury deliberated for two hours Nov. 20 before handing down the not-guilty verdict.
A tearful Ladson, 31, told the jury this week that he acted in self-defense.
During emotional testimony, Ladson said he repeatedly swung at Andrei Govorov to get out of his grasp after Govorov suddenly pulled him off a subway train.
Ladson was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and ethnic intimidation. But Ladson told jurors he was the victim of Govorov’s aggression last winter at the Fairmount subway station.
“I was terrified,” Ladson testified Nov. 19. “I didn’t know what [Govorov] was capable of doing. He just had the audacity to yank me off the train. I didn’t want him grabbing me and ripping me up.”
Ladson also vehemently denied calling Govorov’s a “fucking white guy,” as Govorov contended.
Several teens had been harassing Ladson — who has effeminate mannerisms and dresses in trendy clothing — prior to his altercation with Govorov.
Govorov admitted telling Ladson to “shut the fuck up” in an effort to defuse a volatile situation between Ladson and the teens.
“Your client tried to create a very dangerous situation on the train,” Govorov told defense attorney William D. Hobson.
But Ladson said the manner in which Govorov got between him and the teens wasn’t helpful.
“If he wanted to help, he could have asked what was going on or called 911,” he said.
A few minutes after the teens left the train, Govorov brushed up against Ladson when exiting at Fairmount, according to Ladson.
“Girl, don’t touch me,” Ladson said he told Govorov, while flicking his fingers through Govorov’s hair.
A moment later, Govorov pulled Ladson off the train, and a subsequent altercation ensued for 90 seconds.
Senior Deputy Attorney General James T. Goldsmith said Ladson punched Govorov 38 times during the altercation.
But Ladson said Govorov managed to land a few punches of his own.
“My face didn’t magically get that way,” Ladson said, referring to a mug shot depicting his swollen cheeks and lip.
For his part, Govorov said he pulled Ladson off the train to detain him until police could decide whether to arrest him.
He said Ladson hit him on his head, and displayed other problematic behavior on the train.
SEPTA Police arrived four minutes after the altercation ended, and Ladson was handcuffed and arrested 13 minutes later, according to a surveillance tape.
Ladson’s friends Allen Brown and Danaya Rousseau, who were traveling with Ladson on the train, took the witness stand and corroborated much of Ladson’s story.
They said that prior to boarding the subway at Lombard-South, they purchased clothing on South Street, then dined at Copa.
Police detectives questioned the impartiality of Brown and Rousseau. But Ladson said other passengers also could corroborate his story, if police had gotten their names.
Ladson spent 18 days in jail prior to being released on bail, during which time another inmate attempted to sexually assault him, he said.
Ladson also said jail officials refused to place him in protective custody, despite his pleas for protection.
Ladson, a makeup artist, expressed regret about the incident. But he remained implacable in his assertion that “I never wanted to hurt that man [Govorov].”
Govorov also maintained that he acted in an appropriate manner.
“There was wrong done on that subway, and I tried my best to correct it,” Govorov testified.
Govorov said he sustained a mild concussion and a scrape to his shin that he treated with peroxide.