Speaking of our court system….

July 12, 2007

This just in from the city where I now live.

A little back story.  Last winter two kids robbed another kid of a new XBox 360.  They caught him getting out of his car and knocked him down and robbed him.  Which sucks.   The police found out who it was, and in the midst of their investigation, they also found some pics of one of the kids online holding a gun.  Which as anyone knows, if you get our picture taken with a gun you’re obviously  a dangerous maniac.

So instead of, I dunno, catching this kid on his way back from class at the local community college where he was enrolled, they assemble the swat team and go in with a friggin battering ram.

Only this rube deputy sheriff, by his own account, mistakes the sound of the battering ram for a gunshot, and proceeds to fire indiscriminately through the closed front door of the kid’s house, killing the kid (who, ironically, was not armed, but was playing his Xbox 360) as well as the kid’s dog.

I’m not saying this deputy sheriff is a murderer.   I do think the victim’s family (and the community) deserved a fair shake in this business, which is doesn’t appear that they received.

You know, it seems to me that the greatest tool law enforcement and the justice system has is the respect of the citizenry.  And I’m willing to accept that fact that there will be a bad apple here or there.  But when a law enforcement official is allowed to shoot a kid through a closed door, and the justice system conspires to ensure that he’s not held accountable on any level, I think it seriously erodes that respect.   And what does law enforcement and the justice system have left?

Battering rams.  Guns.  Fear.

In short, they can end your life with the stroke of a pen or the pulling of a trigger.


Visiting judge helped deputy

It was no surprise that a grand jury refused to indict former New Hanover County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Long in the shooting death, through a closed door, of an unarmed 18-year-old man suspected of armed robbery.

The judge all but assured that result.

Richard Beale, from Richmond County, ignored precedent by allowing Long to plead his case directly before the grand jury – which meant in secret. The public was not allowed to hear what he had to say.

Beale also allowed the father of the victim to testify – an inexplicable decision, because the father wasn’t there. He wasn’t even in Wilmington.

Finally, Beale allowed grand jurors with connections to the New Hanover Sheriff’s Department and UNCW to take part in the decision.

Given Beale’s actions – and the refusal of North Carolina grand juries to indict a single law-enforcement officer in connection with more than 100 deaths in the past seven years or more – it is difficult to argue with cynics who are already saying “the fix was in.”

It will be difficult to argue that North Carolina’s court system holds law-enforcement officers to the same standards as everyone else.

Beale allowed Long to show himself to the grand jurors as a human being who meant well and simply made a tragic mistake. He was allowed to persuade them that a regular jury should not even be allowed to examine the evidence, hear the arguments, and reach a verdict.

We don’t know – we’ll never know – what Long said behind those closed doors. But the gist of it presumably was that he was just trying to do his job in a dangerous, frightening and confusing situation.

And that is true enough. It was his superiors at the Sheriff’s Office who sent Long and his colleagues to that scene, heavily armed. It was his superiors at the Sheriff’s Office who trained and supervised them.

Those superiors have not been called to account. Any more than they have been called to account for the death, in their jail, of Gary Rummer.


  1. Duck

    Man, the city of Azaleas is just fragrant with this shit of late. Maybe it´s the whole south. I think someone out to round up Don Imus, the Duke Lacross team, all of white Jena, LA, and the Wilmington PD and…..make them listen to the Coup at full volume in a closed room.


  2. An outrage, for sure. I wonder if the kids dad, a respected and successful atty in Raleigh, will file a civil suit. I would think so. I also agree with your statement about unnecessary force. Its obscene.

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