Washington Evening Journal

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Reflections on a tragedy

By David Hotle | Aug 19, 2014

Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman has been watching the events in Ferguson, Mo., unfold and said today that he is unsure what can be done to restore peace to the community.
He said that law enforcement in the area had been working hard to try to settle the unrest and had tried many different things. He said so far it hasn’t seemed to work. Goodman said that there are parents and friends of the victim who are upset, investigators who are trying to determine the truth, and some people who want to take advantage of the situation.
“I really don’t think we know what happened,” Goodman said of the incident. “At this point I think it is premature to point the blame at anybody. To be fair to everybody we have to wait until the conclusion of the gathering of the evidence and the study of the evidence before we rush and make determinations.”
According to the Associated Press, on Aug. 9, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown at least six times. Brown had no adult criminal record, although shortly before the incident, a store clerk had reported him as part of a strong-armed robbery. According to the Washington Post, the shooting of a black teen by a white officer sparked unrest due to longstanding racial tensions in the area. Since the shooting, there have been peaceful protests of the shooting, as well as vandalism, looting and violence. The Ferguson police have imposed a nighttime curfew and the Missouri National Guard has been activated to support police operations.
At this point, Goodman said, the community is only getting bits and pieces of information about the incident. He also said there are conflicting stories. He said at this time the unrest is putting the investigation into the shooting “on the back burner” and doesn’t provide the opportunity to bring out what really happened.
When an officer is involved in an incident where a suspect is shot, Goodman said, the officer is put on paid leave pending the completion of an investigation. The officer will be issued a new gun and the gun used will be held as possible forensic evidence. Investigators from another department will come in and determine what occurred.
“They are going to put it together like they would a crime investigation to see if a crime has been committed,” he said. “That is essentially where we are at. Is it homicide? Is it justifiable homicide? Is it murder? Is it self-defense? They have to go through and show that.”
He said the officer would be justified in the shooting if it was in defense of himself or someone else.
Goodman said that after an incident in Keokuk County when Jeff Krier shot and killed Dep. Eric Stein and was later shot and killed by the Iowa State Patrol Tactical Unit, there was an investigation to determine what had happened. He said that all the facts have to be put together, just to be sure.
“Everybody should have their due process,” he said.
A grand jury could begin hearing evidence as early as Wednesday to determine if Wilson should be charged with Brown’s death.
Goodman also said that he believes it is important for a police department to develop a trust with the community it covers. He said it is harder to do in a large metro area than in a city like Washington.
As the Ferguson Police responded to the protests, questions have been raised about the “militarization of the police.” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon recently criticized the “over militarization” of police in response to the protests. Reports have come in that police snipers had trained guns on groups of demonstrators. He said that police in armored vehicles with military style weapons made the situation worse.
Goodman said there have been concerns over the National Guard being deployed to Ferguson. He said that officers in Ferguson have used armored vehicles. He also said that there have been situations where police have shot protestors, but police have not been indiscriminately firing at the protestors.
According to the Associated Press, officers came under heavy gunfire Monday evening from protestors. There have also been gas bombs reportedly thrown at officers.
“Armored vehicles give officers added protection to get where they need to go – maybe to rescue citizens,” Goodman said. “I think the point is they aren’t indiscriminately firing on this crowd. They are trying to protect and get things under control.”
Because of the danger of rioting, protestors with peaceful intentions have been encouraged to protest during the daytime as a matter of safety. Goodman said that there are many people in Ferguson who want no part of the protests. Additionally, there have been many nationwide who have shown support for Wilson. Two Facebook pages supporting Wilson have had over 36,000 “likes.” In neighboring St. Louis, there were protests both supporting and condemning Wilson and the Ferguson Police.
During a broadcast on CNN Monday evening, Goodman said that he had gotten so frustrated he had changed channels. He described a CNN reporter getting into a confrontation with the police, who were asking him to move back. Goodman said when an officer grabbed the reporter’s arm to escort him back into a parking lot, the reporter had begun saying he was being arrested and he was being brutalized. Several reporters have been arrested covering the events and later released.
“This person just wanted to cause problems,” Goodman said. “There are enough issues over there that something like this is not going to help anything.”

Comments (6)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Sep 06, 2014 01:32
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 30, 2014 19:41
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 22, 2014 03:16

Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, will be facing a grand jury.

Here’s how the process will work, according to criminal law experts based or practicing in Missouri. The grand jury, which consists of twelve people plucked from the local population, will sit around a table in a deliberation room somewhere in the county courthouse building. It’s the prosecutor’s show: He will present the case, starting with an overview and then bringing forward evidence. But it’s not like a trial. There will be no attorney for the other side, no judge, not even a bailiff. For most of the time, they will be alone except for the prosecutor and, on occasion, a witness who will be providing testimony.

The idea behind a grand jury is that it serves as the people’s voicein effect, a democratic check on the enormous power of prosecutors to bring charges and force people into trials. A grand jury can be a truly deliberative body if it wants. Members can ask for witnesses to appear and testifyand ask those witnesses questions directly. Grand juries can also control their proceedings, deciding how much evidence to hear and when, finally, to vote on charges. In Missouri, it takes at least nine jurors to deliver an indictment, which is known as a “true bill.” Any less and the jury reaches a verdict of “no true bill,” which means no indictments.

The only question the grand jury must answer is whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has occurred. That’s a very low standard, and it’s almost always met when the District Attorney seeks charges.


“So when a District Attorney says, in effect, ‘we’ll present the evidence and let the grand jury decide,”‘that’s malarkey. If he takes that approach, then he’s already decided to abdicate his role in the process as an advocate for justice. At that point, there’s no longer a prosecutor in the room guiding the grand jurors, and — more importantly — no state official acting on behalf of the victim, Michael Brown.

“Then, when you add to the mix that minorities are notoriously underrepresented on grand juries, you have the potential for nullification — of a grand jury declining to bring charges even when there is sufficient probable cause. That’s the real danger to this approach.”

“There will be lawsuits up the kazoo,” said Barbara Arnwine, the longtime president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in an interview Sunday evening. “I think you’re going to see ripple after ripple of legal matters here in response to this outrageous situation.”

The first matter will be the potential criminal and civil actions related to Brown’s death. But legal experts also predict possible litigation stemming from the actions taken by police in Ferguson, lawsuits brought by store owners against the police related to looting, and even the imposition of a curfew.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 21, 2014 15:51

The source told ABC News a hospital photo of Wilson's face, which has not been released to the public, shows the injury the officer suffered allegedly at the hands of Brown.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 20, 2014 22:24

Fox News source: Wilson was “beaten very severely” before shooting Michael Brown

The NYT reported this morning that law-enforcement sources say Wilson suffered an eye socket fracture.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 19, 2014 14:13

This from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior in 1961: 
“…Negroes are 10% of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes…We’ve got to face that…We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too…There are things that we must do for ourselves.”
Dr. King’s statement makes a divisive reference to ‘white world’ and ‘black world,thereby providing a perfect segue into the following (ethical, if not politically-correct) statements based on race:
Blacks still represent about 13% of the national population, yet in the thirty years between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S.  About 90% of black murder victims are killed by blacks—the homicide rate claiming black victims currently is seven times that of whites—nearly one teenager per day in Chicago.
The black arrest rate for most offenses (robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes) is two to three times their representation in the population.  Why?  Perhaps the fact that 72% of black children are born to and brought up by unwed mothers has something to do with it…
Urban blacks continue to commit a highly disproportionate number of crimes, and sweeping this fact under the rug of Political Correctness will not help Dr. King’s cause or our nation generally.
Does it appear that blacks have seriously tried to follow Dr. King’s advice, even in the face of admonitions by the likes of Walter E Williams, John McWhorter, Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell (all are black and see the problem for what it is—irresponsibility and  decline of the black family)?  You decide, but quoting again the Reverend King:  “There are things that we must do for ourselves.”   Amen.
O’Reilly on Brown Shooting: Americans Should Be Concerned, Not Judging

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