News Roundup

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As the Charlotte Observer reports, Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Wednesday that the officer who fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott earlier this year lawfully used deadly force and will not face criminal charges.  Murray explained that a CMPD and SBI investigation into the shooting indicated that Scott was armed with a handgun during the deadly confrontation with officers and ignored commands to drop the weapon.  According to another report by the Observer, protestors marched from CMPD headquarters to the city center following the announcement; speakers at the protest called for increased police transparency.  Keep reading for more news.

Ohio State Attack.  The Columbus Dispatch has comprehensive coverage of an attack on Ohio State campus Monday morning that involved a man running into pedestrians with a car and then cutting people with a butcher knife.  Eleven people were injured in the attack, and the suspect, 18-year-old Ohio State student Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was shot and killed by a police officer.  One article from the Dispatch says that the FBI is investigating whether Artan had any involvement with ISIS.

Charlotte School of Law on Probation.  The National Law Journal reports that the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has voted to place Charlotte School of Law on probation for failing to comply with accreditation requirements related to maintaining sound admissions policies and only admitting qualified applicants.  According to the report, the ABA also concluded that the school was not in compliance with the requirement of maintaining a rigorous program of legal education that properly prepares students for participation in the legal profession.  The school remains accredited and has two years to achieve compliance with the accreditation requirements.   

Bond Fraud.  WRAL reports that a former Wake County assistant clerk of court pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising from “conspiring with bail bondsmen to change court records on the computer for a fee.”  The report says that over a five-year period former clerk Kelvin Ballentine falsified electronic court records in 307 cases to reflect that bondsmen had paid bonds for criminal defendants who failed to appear in court.  One bondsman involved in the scheme has been acquitted while two others have been convicted.

Flag Burning.  The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog has a piece this week explaining that flag burning is a form of constitutionally protected speech.  The post comes in response to a tweet earlier this week from President-elect Donald Trump expressing his view that the penalty for flag burning should be a year in jail or loss of citizenship.

SOG Education and Entertainment.  Exciting news – there are two SOG happenings likely to be of particular interest to the many loyal readers of the North Carolina Criminal Law Blog.  First, John and Shea are presenting the Winter Criminal Law Webinar on December 9 (next Friday) from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Co-sponsored by IDS, the live webinar covers recent state and federal appellate cases as well as new legislation from the General Assembly.  It’s worth 1.5 CLE hours.

Second, a new episode of the SOG’s Beyond the Bench podcast is available. Hosted by Sara DePasquale, the new episode (Episode 3 – The Trial: Adjudicating Neglect) picks up where the last one ended, with the adjudicatory hearing for alleged child neglect in two different cases the podcast is following.  Spoiler Alert! There are two different outcomes.  Quit reading and get to listening.

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9 comments on “News Roundup

  1. The entire report from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney on the fatal shooting can be found here:

    http://www.charmeckda.com/news/113016_1.pdf

  2. This is the case in which Scott, the man suspected of possessing a small amount of marijuana, was shot to death by a policeman while Scott backed away from several policemen. Scott was holding a gun yet made no move to use it or even to raise it up from pointing at the ground. Several times the police ordered Scott to drop his gun and Scott did not comply, did not speak, and had “a blank stare and was in a trance-like state” according to the Charlotte Observer (reporting on Mecklenburg County DA Murray’s statement). Although I do not think a jury would actually convict the policeman, these facts if proven in court mandate a conviction for manslaughter. It is similar to using excessive force in a self-defense case, a classic situation for manslaughter. The policeman was not justified in shooting Scott when there was no reasonable indication that Scott was going to try to shoot anyone with the gun Scott was holding. Because of the likelihood of jury nullification I do not think the policeman would be convicted of manslaughter if prosecuted, however the likelihood of jury nullification should never dissuade the State from charging an offender. Maybe if the policeman were charged with manslaughter that would have a chilling effect on officers in future situations from shooting people unlawfully. Who knows if Scott would have ever raised his gun, let alone tried to shoot it at anyone?

    • What color is the sky in the world you’re living in Mr. Rand?

      All this nonsense you made up here is easily dismissed because it is simply not the way that the law is written.

      The suspect dictates how the confrontation or arrest will go. Their actions determine what force, if any is necessary. It could be just talking to the suspect, to placing handcuffs on them, to taser, to mace, to deadly force… It’s in the hands of the suspect…

      The REAL victim in this incident is not the dead suspect who tried to shoot the officer and certainly not the spouse of the dead suspect.

      The REAL victim in these incidents is the officer because the suspect actions forced the Officer to act so that he may go home to HIS family at the end of his shift.

      The use of force is defined in state law. I use North Carolina’s because that is what I’m familiar with but I seriously doubt that there is any difference between any state’s laws on this matter.

      § 15A‑401. Arrest by law‑enforcement officer. Use of Force in Arrest. – b. To defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use OR IMMINENT USE of physical force while effecting or attempting to effect an arrest or while preventing or attempting to prevent an escape.

      The emphasis is on “OR IMMINENT USE”. Definition: im·mi·nent /ˈimənənt/ Adjective: About to happen: “imminent danger”. Synonyms: impending – impendent – forthcoming.

      An officer in possession of common sense will certainly use deadly force and has the right to take a deadly shot when faced with the IMMINENT threat of serious bodily injury or death.

      That IMMINENT threat of serious bodily injury or death does NOT have to be coming from a gun, knife or other weapon. It can be coming from hands, feet or even from the use of a car. It’s NOT the tool used that counts…it’s the ABILITY to bring about serious injury or death BY ANY MEANS that can be defended against with deadly force.

      UNLIKE the military, law enforcement operates under a completely different ROE (Rules Of Engagement). Law enforcement is NOT the military and does NOT have to be fired upon first to be authorized the use of deadly force. Again, the emphasis is on “imminent”. Stop getting the two confused. They, law enforcement and military, were never the same to begin with.

      By it being imbedded state law no law enforcement supervisor [chief of police or sheriff] or city administrator [mayor, city/county manager] can order otherwise AND NO ATTORNEY CAN ARGUE DIFFERENTLY.

      A person running at an officer with a knife – deadly force authorized.

      An unarmed 240 pound violator on top of a 120 pound officer beating the officer in the head – deadly force authorized.

      A 6’4″, 17 year old behemoth under the influence of a mind altering narcotic who has already assaulted and injured an officer by a strike in the head bringing about a loss of strength and possible concussive problems charging that officer again with the apparent intent to cause bodily injury or death – DEADLY FORCE AUTHORIZED!

      Assaulting you with a vehicle – deadly force authorized.

      A person running at an officer with their hands hidden from view so as to potentially be holding a weapon (gun, knife or bludgeon) – deadly force authorized.

      A person swinging a crowbar, flag pole, etc at the officer’s upper body and head – deadly force authorized.

      A person moving a gun in a manner that appears to the officer that they are “about” to be targeted – deadly force authorized. Getting out of a car with a gun in hand certainly qualifies.

      ALSO: I don’t give a damn what color of the barrel/gun is; Functioning dangerous weapons come in all color schemes and the criminals have been caught painting the tips of the barrels of their guns orange just to fool cops and get an edge on shooting first. If you point ANYTHING at me that can be construed as a projectile weapon I’m going to put two or more rounds into you center mass and let God decide if you live or die.

      If you’re running for cover with a gun in hand you certainly can be shot in the back or anywhere else for that matter. Police don’t have to let you reach cover thus allowing you to shoot at them from a position of safety. So for you people that are planning on a “Police can’t shoot them in the back.” argument….know from the start you are wrong…yes the police can and are perfectly authorized to do so. As stated, this is real life….not some movie or TV show.

      Also, not being a TV drama,the officer doesn’t have to yell “Stop police” or even warn you first to “Drop the gun”. If there is no time for a warning then so be it. The violator doesn’t get to shoot first if the officer can help it. It’s not a color thing, it’s a law thing, and unlike Burger King you don’t get to have it your way after the words “you are under arrest” are uttered.

      When an officer determines the armed violator has broken the law the armed violator’s decisions are narrowed down to these, and only these, options;.

      1. You go to jail.
      2. You go to the hospital and then you go to jail.
      3. You go to the morgue.

      The officer has already made their own decision….that they’re going home alive to their family.

      There is a point of no return. When the line is crossed there is no shoot to wound, no shoot in the leg, no shoot below the waist, no second chances. You should have paid attention to the first chance given you….to comply with the orders of the police. It is shoot center mass to stop and it is then up to God to decide your fate with regard to live or die. And make no mistake…when you cross that line you know you shouldn’t have crossed the officer could care less if you live or die. All they care about is that you are stopped and that they make it home to their wife and children.

      What does the officer feel when the bad guy dies? You mean besides the recoil?

      ✔ Aggravation that the bad guy caused them to have killed for the good of society.
      ✔ Anger that the bad guy’s parents failed in their job of raising the bad guy.
      ✔ Aggravation that they have to endure being on administrative leave doing boring jobs around the department for a long time.
      ✔ Amusement at the “low informed” citizenry that make comments like “Why not below waist.” or something equally ignorant.
      ✔ Disgust at the absolute morons that come out with the all too expected wild police conspiracy theories based on conjecture, a lack of any real knowledge of police methodology and a distinct lack of knowledge of the legal mandates under which the officer will be judged.
      ✔ Relief that their training served them well and allowed them to be the one that walked away from the encounter alive, unharmed, and the victor….the consequence…..not the victim.

      Much like the soldier feels no remorse for defending their country…it would be just as ignorant to expect the officer to feel remorse for defending the citizenry of their city against its enemies…the violent criminal.

      • Amen JW.

        Mr. Rand’s comment seems completely out of touch with what really occurred in that incident or in any other recent OIS incidents.

        But, to be fair, i’ll ask Mr Rand:
        – Which “manslaughter” statute do you think the Scott scenario meets?
        – And if the facts of the situation don’t meet the required elements of a crime, why sir should ANYONE be charged with a crime.

        The “chilling effect” is already widely known. That “Ferguson effect”, just like the “CSI” effect, widely taints peoples opinions. Officers have hesitated and have been hurt, because of the “chilling effect” that you want so badly.

        The officer who ended the attack at OSU has come under criticism by those like Mr. Rand who think that the officer should have waited, and “de-escalated” the situation. The one where the guy had already intentionally hit people with his car and then hacked at them with a machete. Personally, I’d bet eveeyone in the area was glad that officer did not hesitate and suffer from the “chilling effect’ that you want sir.

    • Those who’ve been trained in the different facets of facing violence know that the person who has a gun at a low ready has the advantage of human physiology. What the eyes see then tell the body to react to – is always always- always behind that of what or who they see and react to. Usually a two (2) second lag. IE “The drop on you”

      That is why the laws are written as such. You do not have to wait for a person to shoot you. You do not have to wait for someone to assault you. If a person has a knife and is close and wants to harm you. The likelihood of you getting cut is about 100%. Try it yourself…

  3. Oh, I almost forgot…

    UNDERSTAND THIS: The law enforcement officer’s safety takes precedence OVER that of the offender…EVEN IF THEY ARE MENTALLY ILL. It is not the law enforcement officer’s responsibility, nor are they qualified, to try and make a determination as to whether a person is mentally ill. That is the responsibility of the medical professionals who have treated the offender. If a medical professional failed to determine the offender to be ‘a danger to him/herself or others’ then you need to direct your anger and law suit at the medical professional who failed you and failed to order the offender into involuntary commitment for their protection in the first place.

    • JW:
      That’s not even taking into account concepts like “Failure to Act” or the “Public Duty Doctrine” where an officer can face criminal, civil and employment actions if they don’t act when confronting someone acting like Scott was.
      The police have a duty to protect EVERYONE and to respect EVERYONE’S rights. Mr. Scott’s actions were all his own. He chosen actions to both CARRY a firearm, ARM himself with firearm, and then REFUSE to comply with a simple command from the police…were ALL his free will choice.

  4. “Scott was holding a gun” “Several times the police ordered Scott to drop his gun and Scott did not comply”

    Here are the only two details worth knowing. All of the rest is uninformed blather

  5. […] School of Law.  The Charlotte Observer reports that Charlotte School of Law, already on probation imposed by the ABA, is in crisis after losing access to federal student loans.  The school will not be admitting new […]

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