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Member since: Fri Jul 13, 2012, 12:38 PM
Number of posts: 640

Journal Archives

How Strong Is the Legal Case Against Darren Wilson?

What if Brown did assault Wilson and try to take his gun before fleeing—the account put forward by the St. Louis County police? Would that make him a dangerous fleeing felon?

“It’s conceivable that there might be a determination that Mr. Brown had committed an assault that was equivalent to a felony against a police officer and that might be viewed legally as a justification for the use of force—and in this instance, deadly force,” Joy said.

But assuming Brown didn’t charge at Wilson, as his friend recounted, other legal experts say that argument would be shaky at best.

Assuming "that Brown breaks away from the police officer and the police car, is not armed, and is at some distance away from him—not presenting any immediate threat to the officer or anybody else—then it's plainly illegal to shoot him,” said Bowman.

Did a struggle with the police officer turn Brown into a violent fleeing felon? After all, police department’s account claims Officer Wilson’s face was hit during the altercation and he was treated for his wounds at a hospital.

Not according to Bowman. “If you’re a police officer and I walk up and punch you in the nose and turn around and run away, you can’t pull out your glock and shoot me in the back. You just can’t. The law insists on far more restraint than that from police officers.” he said.

Generally, the law requires more than an altercation to justify the use of deadly force against someone who is fleeing the police, like assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon, or committing a crime with a deadly weapon.

“It’s pretty hard to think of any legal justification for the officer firing at this guy once contact is broken and the guy is moving away,” Bowman said.

Bowman was a little wary of Josie’s account, but stressed that an investigation will have to sort fact from fiction. “The idea that, once out of the car, the kid would then charge an obviously armed policeman seems to me less probable,” he said. “But, who knows? We'll see what the actual investigation decides.”

It's not a bad read.

From that, the only legal defense I can imagine for Wilson is trying to convince some members of the jury that Brown charged at him (which as noted and bolded above is a stretch because that's a pretty crazy thing to do against a cop with a gun drawn). Wilson would also need the ballistics to back him up. And a bunch of witnesses since they've interviewed about 200 folks and at least four have come out against him publicly. Without that, based on the above article, he's likely to get convicted (if the prosecutor doesn't put his thumb on the scales of justice).

I agree

I do not understand why they would not withdraw themselves

Don't lose any sleep waiting for it

It's inaccessible under MO Law
"911" telephone reports inaccessible, exceptions.
610.150. Except as provided by this section, any information acquired by a law enforcement agency or a first responder agency by way of a complaint or report of a crime made by telephone contact using the emergency number, "911", shall be inaccessible to the general public. However, information consisting of the date, time, specific location and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of the crime or incident shall be considered to be an incident report and subject to section 610.100. Any closed records pursuant to this section shall be available upon request by law enforcement agencies or the division of workers' compensation or pursuant to a valid court order authorizing disclosure upon motion and good cause shown.

No signs of struggle on Brown

doesn't mean there wasn't a struggle. It might mean Brown didn't get noticeably hurt during the struggle.

As well, the officer apparently went to the hospital to get treated for a facial injury - that might have been as a result of a struggle.

On the GSR, Baden did not test the clothes or have the clothes to test. Others apparently did or will.

I read GSR is only detectable if the muzzle is within 3-5 feet.

The bullet wound some allege Brown received around the cruiser could have been the result of a ricochet when the gun went off in the cruiser and therefore, no GSR was directed at Brown if that happened.

Who knows for sure at this point .... lots of possibilities

To save me typing,

"Due process" means
2) right to grieve (that being the right to complain or to disagree with the governmental actor/entity that has decision making authority) and

3) the right to appeal if not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance procedure.

Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution each contain a Due Process Clause. Due process deals with the administration of justice and thus the Due Process Clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law.

Michael Brown and disparity of due process

I'm also after due process in a larger sense of the term:

Michael Brown had due process taken from him in a few seconds when Darren Wilson pulled the trigger. But I would contend that in the court of public opinion, even in death, he still should get due process. I argue that he has a right to be tried fairly in the media and court of public opinion. His family is entitled to the kind of due process that will give them answers and from those answers, some closure. And some comfort with that knowledge and those answers that we'll learn something and as a result, be better off for it such that their son or brother didn't die for nothing.

That's the sort of due process I want.

I've made reference to wanting "due process"

but your description doesn't describe where I'm coming from.

We get pieces of information on this case. For example:
- Witness testimony clipped from videos
- Some police info/reports related to the robbery
- Part of an autopsy report.
- press conferences/video interviews with officials
- media reports
- radio/tv interview(s) with various parties
It gets pinned up here in a thread and discussed.

We have an unarmed, dead teenager shot by a cop.

Most would agree we do not have the full details of story at this point. We know there is more to come. We can speculate and discuss why this happened - maybe to sort out some fact from fiction with the evidence provided. We can suspect who is culpable and who is lying. But we don't have all the facts and details to tell us with assurance beyond reasonable doubt what really happened here. Why did this kid die?

I get this: "An unarmed black kid is dead at the hands of a white cop!! What more do you need to know?"

This isn't a case of a white cop just driving up, picking out a black kid at random and shooting him. Some might argue it's close to that. But there's more to it than that.

There was a robbery that may or may not factor in. There appears to have been an altercation at the cruiser - why did that happen? Etc. Scrutinizing those things gets us closer to the truth of what went on.

"Due process" will deliver a more accurate picture of what happened and why. I think Mike Brown's family deserves that. I think Ferguson, America and DU.com deserve that. I think the determination of what should happen to this officer deserves that (even though that officer didn't give Mike the same consideration or opportunity) because that's the justice system we abide by.

My desire for "due process" has nothing to do with racist feelings or defending a white racist cop. Like so many, I want to understand why this kid lost his life. I want real answers.

Worse than the orbital bone fracture ...

from that story at the top :
Christine Byers ✔ @ChristineDByers

Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop's version of events in shooting #Ferguson

authorities said Holder would arrive in Ferguson on Wednesday and meet with some of the FBI agents and prosecutors investigating the case. They have interviewed more than 200 people, scouring the area where Brown was shot by Darren Wilson, an officer with Ferguson’s police department.

I wonder how many have corroborated the other witnesses version of events, who do not agree with the officer ...

Would have been a good question for the reporter to have asked

What did we expect the cop would say?

"I smoked the n-word. Put me on death row!" ? (/sarcasm)

Isn't the kind of explanation given to CNN via Dana's radio show to be expected?

I can understand with the heated feelings about this why it might upset.

But if folks want this officer convicted for killing Mike Brown, cutting through this kind of defense is what it's going to take. And it's not necessarily going to be easy.

We can wring our hands and rant in frustration or go out and riot. Or we can scrutinize what is being claimed and punch holes in it. I think the latter has a much better chance of helping obtaining justice for Mike Brown. Those defending officer Wilson are already on the offensive trying to make the victim the criminal. And they'll be trying to punch holes in the eyewitness accounts. That isn't going to stop anytime soon. Innuendo and opinion or relying on flimsy, emotional reasoning are not going to resonate in a court or the media nearly as much as the verifiable facts and solid reasoning. Scrutinize it. Look for those. One of you might see something that could help.

To me, that's a constructive way to react to this.

I have stated many times that this thing with the cop smells real bad

And so did what Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin.

Now we had all kinds of great rhetoric and outrage when Trayvon got blown away. Right? What did it get us? A lousy case by the prosecutor and Zimmerman walks.

So I see a bit of a deja vu here. Shallow stuff like "4 witnesses say it and therefore, it must be true" and you're a racist if you don't ignore what the officer is saying (now corroborated by CNN confirming source):
and another witness is saying:

So we have a dispute in the testimony to some extent. Many would feel, including me, that the officer's side is less credible and more suspicious. So would you, because it represents the 50 ft to 35 ft tale.

To me, it doesn't hurt to look objectively at the officer's position because one of two things will result:
a) it gets verified as being truthful and therefore, we don't want to convict an innocent man
b) more likely based upon what I know of the case so far, it gets holes blown in it so it won't stand up in court

Likewise, it doesn't hurt to look objectively at Mike Brown for similar reasons and possible outcomes.

I think with the power of the internet and so many critical eyes on this case, such scrutiny might improve the legal argument such that justice can be done for Mike Brown with a better quality legal position that wasn't done for Trayvon Martin. Maybe we'll fall short but I can't see the harm in trying.

I posted this over at Daily Kos tonight when I got confronted with racism:
So what are you selling? Because the victim is black, we're not supposed to examine his actions?

Race should have nothing to do with it.

Step back for a moment:

A police officer shoots an unarmed man. You can swap races to your hearts content on which race did what in that example. The actions of both parties should be examined to determine if the actions of the shooter were justified.

If the roles were reversed, would it be racist to examine the actions of the black cop?

Just because in this case, the victim happens to be black, one wanting to examine the actions of a victim doesn't make that examiner a racist. Both parties have rights. You should treat both parties as equals, shouldn't you?

Now I realize that in places like Ferguson, there is a disproportionate number of blacks getting knocked off, discriminated against, etc. And that is a horrific disgrace that seems to have frustratingly gone on all my life and still badly needs to be corrected. The bright lights on Ferguson right now are likely to bring about some good change in that regard such that Mike Brown won't have died for nothing. But let's correct it with real equality - even in the court cases that decide such issues. Take the high road.

If Brown's actions didn't warrant him to be shot, we should be able to scrutinize them to pieces and still arrive at a just conclusion.

To me, I wonder when someone says "you can't go there because he's black" if that isn't racism or a double standard.

The sooner we stop with the labels and just say 'that man did this and that other man did that", regardless of race, the sooner we achieve real equality.

To me, Mike Brown isn't a black man. He a man and that's how he should be treated in our discussions, our justice system and even in death. And I will never apologize for treating him that way nor accept being labeled as a racist when I try to look at his actions objectively that way in the interest of truth and justice - whether they're good or bad actions.

A little history: I was a little student worker bee for RFK's campaign and MLK when they were alive. Protested the Vietnam war. Streaked against Nixon's "I have nothing to hide". Won my first gay rights battle in '74 - got some funding. Lost a student housing fight that made front pages in '76. Etc - right through to helping Obama get elected, etc. I've been fighting my little fights for civil and human rights for 51 years. So calling me a racist or as someone else called me tonight a "racist troll" is a little tough to take.

If you want to bring down this cop:
1) make sure he's guilty
2) make sure you've got an airtight case against him and all the BS they'll bring up trying to sway it
and that's what I've been trying to do.

I have tried hard to be objective with this issue - on both sides

I still do not feel I can argue with Dr Baden declaring the autopsy inconclusive. He'd know a heck of a lot more about that than I ever will.

But while digesting the press conference and NYT article on this autopsy, I must confess that I'm having some trouble with it. It gets increasingly harder to defend Wilson.

Innocent until proven otherwise:
It looks like Brown stole the cigarillos (not good for Brown)
Wilson allegedly asks Brown & Johnson to get off the road - maybe rudely (maybe not good for Wilson or Brown)
It looks like Wilson fingered Brown for the cigarillos after he started to drive off
It looks like Brown got into an altercation with a police officer (not good for Brown)
It looks like Wilson got into an altercation with Brown (maybe not entirely good for Wilson on the basis of how he handled himself or executed his attempt to arrest Brown)
Wilson allegedly shot Brown accidentally during the struggle at the cruiser according to Johnson (maybe not good for Wilson)
Brown runs away from a police officer trying to apprehend him (not good for Brown)
Wilson allegedly gets out of his cruiser and starts after Brown
Rightly or wrongly, Wilson fires more shots - some that hit Brown's hands/arms/secondary chest (ignoring the head shots for the moment)

Up to this point in time, there's no catastrophic thing. No big felony. No certain loss of life. If it ended there without loss of life, we'd very probably never have heard about it.

In my opinion, only two shots are really key: the head shots.

So far, four or more witnesses maintain Brown stopped and was submissive or put his hands up.
So far, two less credible sources maintain Brown headed back towards the officer.

One head shot entered above his right eye and headed downwards through his jaw into his collarbone area.
The other head shot entered the crown of his skull and was apparently the most devastating.

Brown stood 6'4", 292lbs - a big guy.
Wilson apparently is tallish and lanky, but not significantly taller than Brown that I'm aware and he may well be shorter. If he spread his feet when he shot, as is recommended procedure to steady the gun, the gun would be even lower.

Where I get into trouble is trying to imagine the trajectory of both those shots. Brown's head would have to be lower than where Wilson had his gun if the bullet went fairly straight through from his eye through his jaw. And it would also have to be pretty low for Wilson's bullet to not deflect off the crown of his skull bone - to instead pierce the skull and rattle around in his head.

If Brown had been shot in the gut, he might have doubled over. But the other shots either hit high which would tend to make him more erect or near the end of his arms which wouldn't do much to move the body and head.

So the only likely "simple" way I can imagine without writing a book here on all the possible permutations, would be if Brown charged Wilson, lowering his head like a bull as he ran towards him - and the first head shot didn't knock him off that line of attack.

The projected trajectory of those bullets going into his head is probably going to be a big deal.

I've tried my best to be objective and will continue to do so but it's getting even harder to defend Wilson with this autopsy report.
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