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.

BOSTON POLICE OFFICER SHOOTS AND KILLS FLEEING MAN SUSPECTED OF HEROIN TRAFFICKING

You have no doubt been following the case of the 26-year-old lad shot and killed by Boston police officers earlier this week. His name has now been revealed by his apparent stepfather as Burrell Ramsey-White. We will simply refer to him as the “Deceased”.

As you probably already know, the Deceased was being pursued by the Boston officers on Tuesday night. According to law enforcement, the officers “followed” the Deceased into the South End. There, the Deceased is alleged to have run from a traffic stop, refused to drop a gun and then pointed it at officers. The officers say they fired a single round into the Deceased’s chest and he died.

Some folks, however, have their doubts.

“No doubt. My son’s not a gun-toter,” said Paul Sheffield, who identified himself as the Deceased’s step-father.

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis (he of “I don’t know what happened, but I can tell it was gang related” fame from last week) said that he didn’t have details of what prompted the traffic stop which began the confrontation between officers and the Deceased. However, he was able to add that the Deceased had been at a Roslindale house party on Canterbury Street earlier this month where 34-year-old Jemald Allen was shot and killed. Now, Commissioner Davis says he “can’t say” if the Deceased had been involved in that shooting, but, you know…just sayin’

Well, Mr. Sheffield feels that he can say that the Deceased had nothing to do with that shooting. However, he claims that the police were really investigating the Deceased for that murder. “They followed him and they chased him,” he claimed.

Hmm. Need more dirt of suspicion thrown onto the Deceased which Commissioner Davis “can’t say” means anything?

No problem.

Davis also announced that the Cadillac the Deceased had been driving had been used by a different man who had been arrested Saturday night on Maxwell Street on charges including heroin possession. The police are investigating whether there is any connection between the men.

Yes, that must be important to understand while figuring out why the police shot the Deceased.

All of Commissioner Davis’ vague innuendo aside, the Deceased’s family and friends acknowledge that he had a record. This apparently included 2008 convictions on drug possession, and assault and battery on a South Bay correction officer.

Police said the officers involved in the shooting, including the five-year veteran who fired the fatal round, are on paid leave while authorities investigate, which is protocol.

There is also a woman whom Commissioner Davis is asking to step forward. She may have encountered the foot chase.

Until then, I am sure the good Commissioner will be able to come up with some more dirt which he “cannot say” is relevant to the killing of the Deceased. But, like anyone who suffers with irresistible urges to blurt out whatever comes to mind, he is sure to tell us about them.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Police Shootings

My sarcasm regarding this matter should not distract you from the most important point to you in this case.

“Let me guess, Sam…that one should be careful with whom they associate lest law enforcement assume the worst of you?”

That is a decent point, but not the one I had in mind.

“That the police just make stuff up to justify when they shoot someone?”

No. In fact, despite the attempts at spin control the Commissioner seems to be floating, none of the things he is referring to mean anything when it comes to the actual shooting here.

The fact is, if you have something in your hands and the police believe it to be a gun and you, for any reason whatsoever, do not stop and put it down when they order you to…you are very likely to be shot. Period.

In fact, I will back up on this point because the danger to the Deceased began not when he may have pulled out a gun, but when he tried to run away.

we have discussed countless times in this blog that when officers approach you, do not try to out talk, out fight or out run the officers. You will not win. At best, you will only rack up a few more criminal charges. At worst?

You die.

Whether you like, dislike, trust or mistrust police officers, they do a very dangerous job. Because of both this and the fact that we put a great deal of faith into them, law enforcement enjoys a great benefit of the doubt as far as the system is concerned. Therefore, running from or trying to out-fight (armed or otherwise) police officers is an act close to suicide.

“If the past details of the Deceased do not matter in this case, why is the Commissioner mentioning them?”

Isn’t that rather obvious? After all, the court of law is not the only court to which the police play. Sometimes, the court of public opinion is considered more important.

“Justice” is a game which is played on many diffderent levels.

In the meantime, until my next turn, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1061155152&srvc=rss

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