Lawyer’s comments about police were unprofessional, misleading
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.