Lawyer’s com­ments about po­lice were un­pro­fes­sional, mis­lead­ing

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

In ref­er­ence to the ar­ti­cle, “Man sen­tenced for as­sault lead­ing to of­fi­cer in­volved shoot­ing,” in the April 8 edi­tion of the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent, the com­ment by Pub­lic De­fender Michael Beach re­gard­ing the of­fi­cer’s ac­tions the night Mr. Ter­rence Packer at­tempted to kill his girl­friend is un­pro­fes­sional, dis­tress­ing, and com­pletely out of line. Mr. Beach doesn’t dis­pute the crit­i­cal, life threat­en­ing facts of each of the cases the of­fi­cer has been in­volved in, but uses the cur­rent cli­mate of “anti-po­lice” to­wards the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice to ridicule the of­fi­cer’s abil­ity to save not only the life of a do­mes­tic abuse vic­tim, but po­ten­tially other of­fi­cers on the scene and neigh­bors in the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hood.

Mr. Beach por­trays Mr. Packer as the vic­tim be­cause of the in­juries he re­ceived at the hand of the po­lice, but his state­ment failed to in­clude the life­sav­ing ef­forts given to Mr. Packer by the very same po­lice of­fi­cers. Mr. Beach ne­glected to in­clude how Mr. Packer vi­o­lently choked his vic­tim un­con­scious be­fore the po­lice ar­rived.

Mr. Beach makes ref­er­ence to this be­ing the fourth po­lice in­volved shoot­ing for the of­fi­cer who shot Mr. Packer; how­ever, the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in his state­ment is lim­ited, in­com­plete and mis­lead­ing and ap­pears to have been gath­ered from archived pub­lished me­dia re­ports.

The three shoot­ings in­volved another po­lice of­fi­cer who was vi­o­lently run over by a ve­hi­cle, an armed rob­bery sus­pect who ran out of a con­ve­nience store shoot­ing at the po­lice, and another armed sus­pect who shot at the po­lice and took a fe­male hostage. Mr. Beach pre­sented old in­ci­dents about the of­fi­cer which were re­viewed through an es­tab­lished for­mal process which in­cluded an ad­min­is­tra­tive and crim­i­nal in­quiry; all were de­ter­mined to be jus­ti­fied.

Mr. Beach com­plains about “shield­ing this crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion from the jury.” We would like prose­cu­tors to be able to dis­cuss and present a de­fen­dant’s crim­i­nal his­tory and con­tacts with a law en­force­ment to a jury, how­ever the courts have de­ter­mined it may be “prej­u­di­cial” and un­fair to­wards the de­fen­dant. These are the rules and we as law en­force­ment of­fi­cers re­spect the process and court opin­ions.

Nei­ther Mr. Beach nor Mr. Packer not one time dur­ing this trial took re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ac­tions that set this event in mo­tion. Those were the ac­tions of Mr. Packer, who un­der his own tes­ti­mony, ad­mit­ted he told the vic­tim he was go­ing to kill her, demon­strated the choke hold for the jury that he put the vic­tim in to ren­der her un­con­scious, and then pointed a gun at sev­eral po­lice of­fi­cers. When you point a gun at the po­lice we are go­ing to pro­tect our­selves and the cit­i­zens of this county as we are trained and within the law.

Judge Amy Bra­gu­nier said it best when she said if the vic­tim had not es­caped she would have been dead. The only neg­a­tive per­cep­tion is how Mr. Beach’s state­ment breeds con­tempt for of­fi­cers who place their lives on the line ev­ery day to make Charles County a safe, liv­able com­mu­nity. Once again, the of­fi­cers’ ac­tions that night saved the life of a do­mes­tic abuse vic­tim who was try­ing to leave an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship, an epi­demic which is un­for­tu­nately seen too of­ten.

You men­tion the of­fi­cer’s pre­vi­ous shoot­ings. How many lives did he save dur­ing those in­ci­dents? We may never know be­cause of a crit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion by a highly trained, highly re­spected vet­eran po­lice of­fi­cer who was in a po­si­tion to make a per­ilous de­ci­sion to stop an ac­tive, deadly threat.

Mr. Packer was tried by a jury of his peers and found guilty. The par­tial truths and in­ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion given by Mr. Beach about an of­fi­cer’s ca­reer is noth­ing more than a dis­trac­tion from the prom­i­nent is­sue of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and how the ac­cused should be held ac­count­able.

The cit­i­zens of Charles County should be proud of of­fi­cers who are will­ing to con­front the evils of so­ci­ety to make this a bet­ter place to live for all of us.

John R. El­liott, La Plata The writer is the pres­i­dent of the Charles County Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge No. 24.

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