Self-Defense Shooting — Preparing for the Aftermath

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Hell Paso: This book shows indicting cops for justified shootings
is nothing new in American history.

Police use of force is under more scrutiny than ever today, much of it unjustified. Whether cop or armed citizen, be prepared to defend yourself in changing times.

People trying to send cops to prison for justified use of deadly force in the line of duty is nothing new. In his book Hell Paso: Life and Death in the Old West’s Most Dangerous Town, historian Samuel K. Dolan wrote, “Thanks in large part to Hollywood’s depiction of frontier gunplay, many have the impression that justice in the Old West was swift and that lawmen meted it out with a .45 and faced little scrutiny for their actions. In truth, when western peace officers exercised deadly force, they answered for it. Following a shootout, there would be an inquest or preliminary hearing, during which eyewitnesses would testify. The case would then go to a grand jury, and more often than not, the officer would be indicted.” (1)

Today in America, things seem to be trending back in that direction — for law enforcement officers and law-abiding armed citizens.

Yolo: Mas, third from left, at the death scene with the three
involved officers mentioned in the article.

A Good Shoot?

Within the last decade, I did a case in California where a young gang-banger tried to disembowel a police sergeant in the presence of two other officers; the sergeant and one of the other cops opened fire, killing him. The decedent happened to be Hispanic, and Hispanic civil rights groups demanded the cops be pilloried. The officer who fired the fatal shot was Hispanic himself, as was the third officer who wasn’t close enough to engage the would-be cop-killer. The sergeant the decedent tried to gut with his tactical folding knife was mixed-race, and they all worked for a Hispanic sheriff.

An investigation by the Sheriff’s Department and the State Attorney General’s Office determined the shooting was justified. That wasn’t enough to prevent a lawsuit in Federal Court for Wrongful Death. I was happy to testify on behalf of the officers, and I believe justice was served when the jury found in favor of the lawmen. (2)

Crump: Some people believe the “legalized genocide” trope,
which is not borne out by facts or statistics.

Bad PR

Are there bad cops who do bad things? Of course. There are an estimated 800,000 law enforcement officers in America, and in any community that size, some will go bad. That’s why LE agencies have Internal Affairs, Professional Standards or Office of Professional Responsibility units. It’s my impression those units work harder to prosecute bad cops than Bar Association Ethics Committees work to disbar bad lawyers among some of America’s more than a million attorneys. But I digress.

In the last decade, we have seen a sea change in the old tradition of lawyers and cops alike, “We don’t try our cases in the press; it will all come out in court.” The change largely stems from an armed citizen shooting — the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman a decade ago. The family of the deceased only knew their unarmed teen son had been shot. They hired an attorney, Benjamin Crump, who brought in PR man Ryan Julison to create the public image of an innocent child skipping down the street with a box of Skittles when he was gunned down by a white, oops, “white Hispanic” racist. The jury saw the evidence-supported truth of a duly appointed Community Watch leader attacked and being beaten to death when he fired a single fatal shot and acquitted Zimmerman. But today, even many gun people remain brainwashed by the media and believe Zimmerman got away with murder. The same Crump/Julison team went on to attack many, many cops with the same propaganda strategy. Crump’s book Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People remains on bookshelves.

Solutions

When accusers cry “Police (or Armed Citizen) Brutality!” and the attorneys for the accused say nothing, their clients are being tried in the Court of Public Opinion with no defense at all. Silence in the face of accusation is seen as an admission of guilt. LAPD and the Las Vegas Metro Police led the way into the new paradigm. As soon as there is a potentially controversial shooting, they immediately do a press conference complete with dashcam and bodycam footage and tell the communities they serve, “Here is what we know happened so far; the investigation continues.” And in those communities, shootings there have triggered no riots. I respectfully submit all police departments (and defense attorneys for armed citizens) need to do the same.

Justice and truth are inseparable. But a truth not put before the Courts, including the Court of Public Opinion, will be unknown and unrecognized … and justice will be ill-served with innocent lives ruined.

(1) Dolan, Samuel K., Hell Paso: Life and Death in the West’s Most Dangerous Town, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 2021, Page 217. (2) https://www.davisenterprise.com/news/local/crime-fire-courts/jury-backs-yolo-deputies-in-wrongful-death-trial/

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