Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Public Defender Goes Overboard.
I almost fell off my bed when I read this story. Let me explain, first off I read the papers about 1:30 to 2:00 in the morning before I go to bed. Sometimes not the whole paper but at least the biggest stories and then I will finish the rest in the morning. Enough about my insomnia or odd sleeping habits. I clicked on a story about the opening arguments in the State vs Ivan Atencio trial. Ivan Atencio is a career criminal drug addict. One evening a lady calls police to report that she has observed a stolen car parked at a store parking lot and there is a man inside. Doing what a cop is supposed to do they approach the man and ask him to step out of the car and speak to officers so they can investigate. He refuses to follow commands struggles to escape, and as he tries to drive away he drives straight at an officer making the officer fear he was about to be run over. The officer fires his weapon at the vehicle in order to stop the vehicle from running him over. A chase ensues and all that many other officers hear on the radio during the chaos is "shots fired". apparently some officers may have thought this to mean that the suspect had a gun.
During the high speed dangerous chase the officers finally stop Atencio and surround the car. He again tries to drive away putting officers lives in danger of being struck by the vehicle Mr Attencio is driving at them. Officers fire their weapons once again trying to stop Mr. Attencio from killing someone, primarily the very officers he is driving at. He is shot but not fatally and arrested.
Now, defense attorneys are supposed to mount a rigorous defense on behalf of their client. I have no problem with that. A common defense tactic is to blame the police for what happened. Never mind that the actions of the suspect created the situation that officers had to react to. However, where I nearly fell out of bed was when I read this which was said during opening arguments, "The Santa Fe Police Department, literally in a concerted effort, attempted ... to murder my client," Public Defender Sydney West said. "What you will see in this case is police were the perpetrator and Mr. Atencio was, in fact, the victim."
What!!! Calling our officers attempted murderers! I am disgusted at this public defenders choice of words and her unabashed attempt to make the officers the criminal's in this case. We in law enforcement are used to the tables being turned on us in criminal cases by the defense attorneys. Officers are often accused of incompetence or indifference. When the physical evidence is irrefutable the attorneys try to say it was not collected correctly or that officers somehow wanted to frame someone they never met and would have no motive to do so. When there is no physical evidence then officers are accused of not looking hard enough to find it. It always goes back to a common defense tactic of putting the officer on trial.
Usually the defense attorneys are not so disrespectful and callous about doing so. I hope this backfires, I hope the jury has enough sense to see what is really happening here. Sometimes they do, unfortunately sometimes jury's take the bait.