Gang violence in the Boston area. The battles are played out in the streets by gang members, law enforcement and innocent bystanders as well as the Commonwealth’s courtrooms with lawyers and judges.
The homicide victim this time was a Revere Police Officer Daniel T (hereinafter, the “Deceased”). The killing took place in 2007. Now, in 2010, Robert I., 22, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) has been found guilty of second-degree murder by a Suffolk Superior Court jury.
But the controversy has not ended there. People are questioning the city’s police department as a result of how the shooting had occurred.
The Commonwealth contends that the Defendant was a member of the “Bloods” street gang. It also contends that the Defendant shot the Deceased above his right eye believing he was a gang rival.
During the trial, prosecutors said that the Deceased, his fiancée and three other Revere officers were drinking behind Revere High School at about 2 in the morning. That is when a friend of the Defendant’s (hereinafter, “Co-Defendant”), another believed Blood member, walked by.
The Deceased, described by witnesses as intoxicated, began taunting Co-Defendant, using gang signals and slurs. Co-Defendant did not take to kindly to this. He left and returned with the Defendant and three others…all wearing masks over their faces.
According to the Commonwealth, the Deceased approached the group and the Defendant fired.
While it was the Defendant’s freedom which was at risk, the trial cast an unflattering light on the Revere Police Department, revealing how the officers took firearms qualifications tests and then drank for hours that night, at one point cracking beers open while driving in a truck. They drank shots of liquor and more beer at a nearby bar, before lugging bottles of Bud Light to the bleachers behind the high school.
The prosecutor was critical of these actions during his opening and closing statements, calling them shocking and outrageous. The defense attorney repeatedly highlighted the officers’ drinking that night as he tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s argument that his client fired first.
District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, whose office had sought a first-degree murder conviction, said, “We are very satisfied with the today’s verdict. … It was based on the evidence and very reasonable.”
The Defendant, convicted of 2nd degree murder, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Co-Defendant was convicted of being an accessory after the fact for helping to dismantle the handgun used to shoot Deceased.
Gang violence is nothing to play with…one would imagine any police officer would know this. However, when one drinks, one’s judgment tends to get cloudy.
The Commonwealth is frankly lucky that it got the convictions that it did. Under the circumstances, it would be difficult, at best, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant was the actual shooter and that he was not acting in self-defense. After all, it would appear that the Deceased’s friends were loaded (one apparently fled the scene) and none of the Defendant’s witnesses were likely to testify in aid of the Deceased.
We give police officers guns because they are supposed to show professional judgment and protect themselves and us with them. The instant credibility that courts and juries usually give police officers is something I have written about many times in this blog. However, the reality is that police officers are human beings with human foibles. The Deceased’s foibles cost him his life. They also cost the Commonwealth a 1st degree murder conviction.
You, however, cannot depend on this. I have many clients who feel that if they just explain to a jury that the police officer bringing charges against them are either lying or mistaken, they will be instantly acquitted.
This assumption has very little relationship to reality.
Think on this…if the Deceased’s freinds were noit police officers, but regular civilians like you and me…don’t you think there would be charges brought for OUI and/or disorderly conduct?
The fact is that police officers are presumed correct and truthful…not by law, but by human conditioning. And, while you may be presumed innocent by law, you are usually assumed guilty by that same conditioning.
Take any fact scenario brought against you by the Commonwealth extremely seriously. Your liberty and future are at risk.
Should you find yourself or someone you care about to be facing charges and wish to discuss the matter with me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.
For the full article upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/02/iacoviello_verd.html
Tomorrow: Michael Jackson Returns To The News