ByI'll begin by saying that generally, no entire group of any organization is "bad" or a "bad actor". There are plenty of good police officers. Yet, like any group, the bad apples spoil the bunch--this goes for doctors, pastors, and lawyers as well.
Nevertheless, as long as I can remember, I was told to be careful of my interactions with law enforcement. As a child, I couldn't truly comprehend the advice and rules my parents shared. I did appreciate the look of concern and trepidation in their faces. The look itself was enough to let me know, this was a serious matter. Now as an adult I have witnessed the aftermath of police brutality, wrongful arrests, harassment and other abuse conducted by officers of the law.
The first uneasy moment I had with a cop was when I was about 16 years old. Saving money to go to college, I worked at KFC and Long John Silvers and often went from one job to the next. I remember driving along then suddenly feeling an impact and hearing a metallic thud. A car had hit me. I was in immediate fear because the car belonged to my parents and I knew I would have to pay for it and my savings was finally starting to add up.
The gentleman in the other vehicle was a middle-aged caucasian male. He was very nice and there was no argument or other grotesque exchange. But, when the cop arrived he (the officer) claimed he saw me run a red light and hit the other driver. I knew this wasn't true. Luckily the other driver knew my dad through work or church (my dad was very active in ministry) and told my dad what really happened. Ultimately, the only real damage was to my parent's car--which was taken care of.
Notwithstanding the minimal damage to the vehicle, what about the cop's false report? This minor false statement had the likelihood of: (1) dealing with punishment from my parents, (2) increasing insurance costs, (3) making me the liable party injuring my savings, and (4) impairing my driving record. Compare that to a cop who lies on the stand about facts relating to: (1) prostitution, (2) DWI, (3) aggravated assault, or even worse (4) sexual assault, or a (5) murder. The outcomes are heinous.
Citizens place an incredible amount of trust in their law enforcement. In my opinion, a police officer should be a revered position. The police officer is proverbial "good guy" to most. However, how do you categorize an officer that stops a citizen based upon the curiosity of how the driver paid for the vehicle or even worse driving while black, brown, or some other legal reason.
I have had a few client's tell me that their money or belongings were stolen. I have had a client who was grouped in a gang he couldn't possibly be a part of (one with tattoos to someone with a less aware eye would not now illustrated an affiliation with the rival gang the cop told prosecutors he was in). I had a client who was struck by a DWI driver but arrested for interfering with public duties. There was also a gentleman who was charged with evasion in a motor vehicle, who only went about .6 miles down the road, with flashers on, and stopped at the safest turn off available. He was an immigrant, they offered him two years based upon those facts.
Luckily, I was able to obtain dismissals of all the above cases. But what about the poor soul who is convicted? In Texas, there are numerous men and women who have been severely harmed by the unlawful conduct of law enforcement. If you look at the facts surrounding Michael Morton or Anthony Robinson's case, it appears that their is simply disregard for accused's rights.
It could be a shoddy DWI investigation. Even worse, what about the trusting citizen who is victimized by the "good guy"?
What do you think? Are there enough controls in place to overcome unlawful police action?
By DaSean A. Jones | 832.224.6740