I frequently end up getting retained to represent criminal defendants in cases involving law enforcement officers as “victims” – usually in counties other than the one in which I reside. Without fail, the prosecutor assigned to the case will be gung-ho moving forward with the prosecution, even if the evidence is slim to non-existent (most usually consisting solely of the verbal testimony of the officer). Mind you, I have encountered a prosecutor who had the gumption to call a spade a spade and dismiss the case – but that was an exception to the rule.
The other day I was speaking with an assistant prosecutor whom I had never met before, regarding a similar case. The facts were extremely disputed, not just by the defendant and the “victim,” but by the eyewitnesses. Basically there was a fistfight involving a civilian and an off-duty officer. When other officers responded, do you think they approached the situation fairly? Of course not, they arrested the civilian without taking any eyewitness statements – based solely on the statement of the off-duty officer – and of course added in a “contempt of cop” charge (obstruction) as the cherry-on-top, for allegedly not withdrawing from the fight quickly enough. Since they were not present when the fight began, they have no idea who was the aggressor, and who was engaging in self defense.
When I tried to explain this disparity to the prosecutor, suggesting that the charges be dismissed, he looked at me like I was crazy, replying something to the effect of “our officers are perfect creatures molded in the image of Christ.”
Do law enforcement officers transcend humanity when they get sworn in? Are they somehow immune from human flaws? Has no law enforcement officer on the face of the earth, throughout recorded history, ever told a lie? Ever protected one of their own? Ever trumped up charges against someone they didn’t like? Was the term “blue wall” created by some UFO researcher digging through the National Archives? Of course not. There are thousands of provable, documented incidences, and the fact that a prosecutor can’t have an open mind about such things is just plain scary.
I suppose this is why our founding fathers guaranteed us the right to be tried by a jury – unless of course your in West Virginia and are charged with a misdemeanor and you fail to request one within twenty days….
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.