Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Massachusetts Police Student Assaults, Murders And Gun Crimes (CJS Perspective, Pt.III)

Last week, I began this mini-series about perspectives in the criminal justice system. I started with that of the police officers. As the week went on, the news was more and more full of examples illustrating my point. First, the only alleged police misconduct dominating the Boston news in took place in New York. Now, we have a video on YouTube and similar allegations here at home.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis now says that he is reviewing video footage that shows the several police officers using force to arrest a juvenile (hereinafter, the “Kid”) at Roxbury Community College.

The video has made the rounds on YouTube and shows an officer assaulting the Kid and kneeing him while several other officers are trying to place handcuffs on him. The arrest occurred in a lobby at the college. Of course, the Kid was not the only one injured…three of the officers were apparently taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries and were later released, Davis has pointed out.

According to Davis, the officers did use force, but it is a question whether that force was excessive. After all, the officers were trying to handcuff the Kid and the Kid resisted.

Apparently, what led to the arrest was that the Kid had outstanding warrants and had escaped from a youth detention facility.

Meanwhile, the Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley has appointed a senior prosecutor to investigate the use of force by as well. Said investigator will be Assistant District Attorney Joshua Wall.

Mr. Wall has been around a long time. I have had cases with him and he is a well-seasoned prosecutor.

Meanwhile, we in the Commonwealth await news as it trickles out from the New York police shooting of another Massachusetts young man. In that case, it has taken the young man’s family hiring a private attorney to try to get at the “truth” of the shooting.

But, hey, that’s all old news by now, isn’t it? Let’s catch up and take a more current view of city streets in terms of violence. Gee, here’s an unusual piece of news for this year…the weekend has ended and we have news of two men having been gunned down and found dead yesterday in separate cases in Roxbury.

Something like that hasn’t happened for at least a week or so!

Attorney Sam’s Take:

All three of these matters are connected, although one occurred in New York. They illustrate the atmosphere of the streets where police officers and some of our less refined or mature come into contact all the time.

Last week, I spoke of how the relationship between investigating officers and the general populace has changed since the days as depicted in Norman Rockwell artwork.

In my experience, police officers rarely begin their tour each day with a desire to “break heads” and arrest the innocent. There does seem to be, however, a view of themselves as they ever-ready “good guys” who are able to weed out the guilty from the innocent almost immediately. Once they figure out who the “bad guy” is, it is quite difficult to dissuade them.

Simplistic view of the world? Perhaps. Do they have the training and, at times, the perception to almost “sense” something that “seems wrong”? Actually, often they do.

However, they are also human beings with human emotions. We like to see police officers as people who should simply be machines…never making a mistake and certainly never losing their cool.

Police officers are not machines. They do have human emotions. Perhaps more training should go into their allowing for and controlling said emotions. For example, it is indisputable that officers cannot allow themselves to lose control of a scene. Their lives, and the lives of others, often depend on that. However, many people, particularly the young, do not understand that. Often, they make the (too often fatal) mistake of insisting on having their say whether the officer likes it or not.

“That still does not excuse police brutality or excessive force, does it, Sam?”

Of course not. However, add to the environment of the streets where many regard police officers as “the enemy” the fact that shooting, and other, deaths are occurring at such an incredible rate.

I would suggest it makes officers even more nervous…and even dangerous. The fact is that, in these various disputes, the police officers will retain control. They will win the dispute…at least until the matter gets to court.

And what happens when it gets to court? Well, that is a subject for another installment in this series.

In the meantime, this all illustrates something that I have pleaded of my readers since I began this blog. When the officers confront you, you do not have to make all kinds of statements to try to convince the officers that you are the salt of the earth. But there is something you do have to do, should you wish to escape the adventure as unscathed as possible.

You must make sure that the officers know that you accept that they are in control of the situation. Do not try to flee. Do not try to struggle. Do not try to outsmart them. Just politely comply with their orders. If they say you are under arrest…guess what?

You are!

Save the fighting for later in court. With a trained and experienced professional by your side.

If you have been arrested and wish to discuss it with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.

To view the original story in which parts of this blog were based, please go to : http://mobile.boston.com/art/34/news/local/breaking_news/2010/10/commissioner_pr, http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/11/01/two_men_found_shot_to_death_in_roxbury/?p1=Local_Links and http://mobile.boston.com/art/34/news/local/breaking_news/2010/10/da_conley_appoi

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