Prosecutors depend on police. And vice versa. Juries once trusted police. Now, citizens want and expect body cam footage.
COVID-19 and police brutality have America’s criminal justice system reeling. Protests abound. Cities and states are going broke. Crime will increase. People are on edge.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann declined to file charges in the police shooting death of William DuBose. Her decision makes sense after watching the body cam video. McCann is running unopposed for a second term. Being DA is rough given police discord, budget cuts and home protests.
Self-defense is a universal right. Had McCann filed charges, she would’ve had to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the officer didn’t fear death or serious bodily injury when he pulled the trigger.
Georgia law has similar self-defense concepts. The slaying of Rayshard Brooks presents a difficult prosecutorial decision. Brooks resisted and fought because he feared arrest and a return to prison. He was running away.
Former Atlanta Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks, will assert his own fear of great bodily injury when he saw that stolen stun gun pointed at him. Was that the reason he shot Brooks? Or was it racism and immediate retribution for Brooks’ resistance?
Paul Howard first got elected Fulton County (Georgia) District Attorney in 1996. One of Howard’s long-time assistants, Fani Willis, is now battling her former boss in the Democrat party primary. Willis led the first-round voting (42% -35%) on June 9. Their run-off election is Aug. 11.
Striving for his seventh term, and beset by scandal, Howard threw 11 criminal charges, and several low blows at Rolfe. Howard’s charging decision was announced at an extraordinary vote-seeking and pandering news conference. Politics and prosecution are a toxic mix.
The primary threat to law and order in America is the man who keeps tweeting “Law and Order!” President Donald Trump realizes now he is effectively America’s top cop and prosecutor. He also gets to appoint all federal judges.
Hey Mr. Fox, how would you like to guard the henhouse?
Trump claims he was “not involved” in the sacking of Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Berman. We know otherwise. Trump has the motive, opportunity and the means for extinguishing the career of any federal prosecutor investigating Trump family, business or cronies.
In The Room Where it Happened, John Bolton writes Trump approved mass incarceration of Uighurs, telling Chinese leader Xi Jinping it was “exactly the right thing to do.” According to Bolton, Trump believes journalists are scumbags who should be executed. Why not? Putin and Trump’s other dictator pals do it when they confront “fake news.”
On July 28, 2017, Trump revealed his policing philosophy, telling assembled officers: “Please don’t be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over (their head)?” Trump then acted out the shielding of handcuffed suspects’ heads to avoid contact with metal door frames.
Trump mocked this kind of decency. Trump instructed, “You can take the hand away, OK?” POTUS expected laughter and applause. Police response was initially tepid. But then, there were some titters and clapping. Trump misreads police. Most cops are good, and this directive was bad. And not funny.
Speaking of unfunny, witness Trump’s Tulsa rally and his talk about Kung Flu, and slowing coronavirus testing, all proclaimed while disdaining social distancing and masks. Trump threatens all of us.
Trump is an authoritarian. Police would be wise to reject Trump, who causes American unrest and many law enforcement problems. As Bolton wrote, “obstruction of justice is a way of life” in this White House, and its current occupant is unfit.
Cory Gardner could do the right thing right now and turn on Trump. John Hickenlooper’s likely limping into their Senate race. If Gardner agrees Trump is unfit to be president, he might save his own job. And America.
Gardner is unfit if he does not react to the Bolton allegations. Does Gardner approve of this corruption of America’s foreign policy and justice system?
America must be better than Donald Trump. Most law enforcers are far better humans. The Donald would be unfit for police work. Not just because of bone spurs.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C.
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