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A PROSECUTOR's bad day at black rock

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  • A PROSECUTOR's bad day at black rock

    Many areas in Texas are too small municipally to have their own swat teams, or drug task force.

    So, MANY communities have "mutual aid" agreements with surrounding communities, cities, towns, counties or other jurisdictions. I live in a place where the community is fairly small (about 18,000 people) but the city police department is outstanding in its professionalism, capabilities, and service. It is among only 4% of departments that meet or exceed the highest standards for law enforcement in the State of Texas.

    Because this police department is so professional and well trained, it is often called upon to assist with drug enforcement, investigation, gang intervention, etc. in surrounding counties.

    One day, just over a year ago, they were assisting a neighboring county with a drug warrant. It was suspected that the suspect was well armed, and would fight when confronted, so a multi-jurisdictional task force was formed, our department in a support role.

    LONG STORY SHORT, things went badly. One of the host county's deputies was killed as he made entry into the house, lots of shots were fired, confusion reigned supreme, and an officer of the law lay dead.

    Our District Attorney was advised what had happened, and the slain officer was a close friend of hers. She went to the scene (she also served as the DA for that county) to assess the situation, and be there with "our guys". (The DA's office enjoys a very close relationship with both the city PD and the county SO)

    The suspect had been arrested, and since there was an officer involved shooting, the Texas Rangers were called in for the official investigation. They took the suspect - now an accused cop killer, on top of a major drug dealer - to a nearby makeshift command post, and interviewed him.

    After a couple hours, the two Texas Rangers came back to the DA and said, "we have some bad news". They related that the victim was absolutely convinced that the "dynamic entry team" that crashed into his house was NOT the police, but a rival gang who had threatened to put him out of business. What was the bad news? One of the Texas Rangers explained, "we believe he's telling the truth".

    Now, think about the implication -- a known drug dealer has killed a cop, and the DA has just been advised by the Texas Rangers that he would likely be "no billed" if presented to a Grand Jury. The DA is in a horrible position. She is going to have to explain to the family why this cop killer is going to "skate" on the charge of capital murder of a police officer in the line of duty. She's going to have to explain to the swat team, and all the police support personnel that the known drug dealer / cop killer won't be convicted of the capital murder charge, but will most likely be "no billed" due to a self defense posture.

    A lot of mistakes were made. The "dynamic entry" team was not properly "marked". For some reason, their bulletproof vests did not have large letters declaring "P O L I C E", but they had small "subdued" military style insignias that pretty much matched the colors of their body armor. Further, were not shouting "POLICE" as they entered, and the neighbors would testify that there was mayhem and confusion, and all they saw was a bunch of paramilitary guys lined up outside the house, a couple of loud explosions (flashbangs) and an ensuing gunfight. One witness says he heard somebody shout "police" one single time, but said it could easily have been lost in all the confusion.

    The trial was just a few months ago. The DA said she knew that she COULD make a case, but it would require a lot of work -- but she COULD do it, but the TOUGHER thing would be to do the RIGHT thing and tell her closest friends -- her law enforcement buddies -- she was not bringing charges of capital murder to the Grand Jury.

    I applaud her courage and conviction, and am proud to be the Police Chaplain for a group that obviously believes in justice over "winning" or "getting even".

    The suspect was, indeed, convicted on all drug related charges, and will spend considerable time in prison as a repeat offender. The family of the slain officer, though obviously devastated at the loss of their husband/father/brother/friend, supports the DA's decision, given the circumstances.

    The Police Department has taken a very healthy stand in using this event as a learning tool -- totally redesigning their "dynamic entry" tactics, and includes the obviously necessary component of such simple things as yelling "POLICE" loudly and continuously the entire time the dynamic entry is underway, so even the neighbors can here -- and wearing MUCH more highly visible "POLICE" markings.

    Unfortunately, the host county's Sheriff's Office is very bitter that their slain officer was "disrespected in this manner", and it will take time for those relationships to heal.

    The unofficial motto of the Texas Rangers for quite some time has been "do the right thing and accept the consequences". They did, and so did our DA.
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

  • #2
    Seems like killing someone in defense of drugs is still murder, even if he didn't know it was police.

    also, I would doubt that a rival gang would appear in paramilitary gear.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Sparko View Post
      Seems like killing someone in defense of drugs is still murder, even if he didn't know it was police.
      Yep -- legally you can't separate the fact that you are defending your residence from armed intrusion - from the fact that you have a meth lab in your kitchen.

      also, I would doubt that a rival gang would appear in paramilitary gear.
      You would be amazed at the tactics, equipment and weaponry by some of the local drug "cartels" in Texas. And there HAD been an incident prior to this where a rival gang did, in fact, raid a house down on the border in paramilitary style, killing the competition. That would have been part of the defense. The media really doesn't cover the drug wars going on along our border with Mexico, because it would be a total embarrassment to the current administration. There have even been incidents where Mexican "police" would come across the border, particularly in and around Laredo, and they are typically dressed in paramilitary assault uniforms.
      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.


      • #4
        The cops made mistakes and the DA acted properly. They lost an officer - I don't see where further recrimination serves any purpose. I'm glad they chose to learn from the mistakes - and pray for the department that lost their officer.

        "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

        "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

        My Personal Blog

        My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

        Quill Sword


        • #5
          So why, exactly, haven't we, as a nation, via our representatives, declared open war against paramilitary drug cartels, to be concluded when all of the cartel members are dead, imprisoned, or deported?

          When you can answer this question truthfully and fully, you will know exactly why I post the way I do.


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