Baltimore Police Get Treated Like Criminals And They Don’t Like It
Apr. 5, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Baltimore seems like a funny place for the police lately. Baltimore police officers are being treated just like regular people there. And they definitely don’t like it. After a shooting incident last week, the officers involved in the shooting declined to answer questions about it. Their union is up in arms about the shocking and insulting decision that was then made.
What was it that was so terrible? The officers were read their Miranda rights on video!
If you find yourself a little bit lost, join the crowd. Let’s go back to the beginning.
The situation started last Thursday when 43-year old Matthew Wood, Jr. and his 18-year old son, Kimani Johnson, were observed in an East Baltimore neighborhood armed with a rifle and a pistol. Though it is not clear what it was that drew the policemen’s attention to the duo, it turned out to be serious enough to also draw a hail of bullets.
A father and son duo killed in a police-involved shooting in East Baltimore Thursday afternoon displayed “an intent to kill,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a Friday press conference.
Despite not knowing what led to the shooting, the Baltimore police are quite proud of the way it was handled.
“We don’t run from bad guys with guns. We engage them,” Davis said. “We fired 56 rounds yesterday until this threat was eliminated.”
Neither of the men who were killed got off a shot, so it’s unclear why it took 56 bullets to address the problem. But it did and now it might not be a bad idea to figure out exactly what led to the one-sided gunfight on a Baltimore street. Somebody is bound to ask questions when what amounts to two high-capacity magazines gets unloaded on a city street, no matter who unloaded that firepower.
Apparently those questions are creating friction between police and prosecutors and … other police? Members of the Baltimore Police Department were questioning the officers involved in the shooting, also members of the Baltimore Police Department. That has its own set of issues, but that’s not the focus here.
The officers involved in the shooting were asked what happened. They wouldn’t say anything. So the cops asking the questions decided to read them their Miranda rights. On video, presumably so there would be no question the officers were properly apprised of their rights.
Seems reasonable. Miranda rights should be read to anyone who might say something that could be used against them. Though the courts have found about a million exceptions to the requirement, it’s always safer for the cops to just read them. And they should read them to all kinds of people, not just criminals. Innocent people, people in accidents, people mistakenly identified. All of those types of people run the risk of an arrest, a trial, and a conviction. Which leads to a jail sentence. So they should be informed of their rights.
The police union in Baltimore disagrees.
Baltimore’s police union president sharply criticized prosecutors Saturday, saying they had directed that officers involved in Thursday’s fatal shooting of a father and son be read their Miranda rights on video after they declined to answer questions. The union also accused prosecutors of lying when they said it was a common practice in police shooting investigations.
Baltimore prosecutors claim this is a standard practice.
Prosecutors had said Friday that the practice was common and nothing new.
But the next day, after the police union’s complaints, the prosecutors said it was actually the police that made the decision to Mirandize the officers involved in the shooting.
“At no point did the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office require or instruct anyone to provide Miranda warnings to the officers,” spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said in a statement. “It was a decision made wholly by the Baltimore Police Department in an abundance of caution.”
It doesn’t really matter who decided the officers should be read their rights. They have the rights and it’s better to have them formally read. Why does the police union care about this? Because it’s hurting the officers’ feelings. They are being treated like common criminals, instead of the heroic gunslingers they are.
The police union said that the officers, on advice from a union attorney, declined to make statements, and that prosecutors directed investigators to formally read the officers their Miranda rights on videotape.
Police union attorney Michael Davey said he had never before seen prosecutors make such a request and likened it to treating the officers like “criminals.”
This says a lot about the way police view themselves and the rest of the people. 56 bullets are fired on a city street in broad daylight. Two men are dead. Details are vague. And the police involved won’t answer questions? They immediately lawyer up and refuse to cooperate with investigators?
Isn’t that what guilty people do? Don’t they get a lawyer right away and clam up? Because if they have nothing to fear, shouldn’t they just tell the police what happened and everything will be okay?
And it sounds like the only people who need their rights read to them are criminals. The Baltimore police have such a myopic view of constitutional rights that they are blatantly stating on the front page of the newspaper that those rights are for criminals, not innocents. Probably no one worries too much about violating them. Who cares if a criminal gets sent away without his rights? It’s called harmless error.
Welcome to the real world, Baltimore Police Department. You’re now getting a taste of the criminal justice system that the commoners have gotten used to. Officers on trial for murder. An officer’s basic constitutional right is stripped away by prosecutors and an appellate court. Now investigators are reading police officers their rights.
This is how it works. Everybody gets treated like a criminal these days, even the police. Get used to it. And quit complaining, because you started it.