According to the Constitution, a person is presumed innocent. A person also has the right to an attorney, a right to remain silent and a right to a fair trial. The problem is that often those rights are simply ignored based on race or ethnicity. Do the police treat blacks and whites equally? Are blacks more likely to be stopped and searched? Are Hispanics treated equally by the prosecution and the Courts?
Today’s Herald Tribune front page describes a recent hit and run situation involving a prosecutor and a black family in the early morning hours. What really happened, no one will ever know. The investigation appears to have been quashed even though much of the event was recorded on a 911 call. Did the police take the word of a white female prosecutor over an entire car load of black witnesses? Did the police take any photographs of the alleged damage to the rear of the black family’s car? Were the dash cams turned off on the police cars? Did some of the officers actually witness the second crash? What really happened in the phone calls made between the officers that night?
Looking at this objectively, there is an appearance of impropriety and now the truth will never be known.
It is exactly this type of police conduct that creates distrust in the black community. It is this type of investigation that creates the impression of unfairness in the system. The white prosecutor may not have been impaired. The white prosecutor may not have committed a hit and run. The white prosecutor may not have used influence and called in a favor to escape arrest. I fault the on the scene officers for not doing a proper investigation. The absence of the dash cam video is inexcusable. The absence of photographs of the damage is just plain sloppy, or is it? I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to everyone but when the police apparently intentionally do not document anything it gives a huge appearance of impropriety.
Our entire criminal justice system depends on the police being impartial and the State Attorney’s office administering justice fairly. Time will tell on how this one plays out
As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney I know there are two sides to every story. The problem with this situation is that the public will never know the other side.
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