Police gun down 83-year-old woman responding to 911 call she dialed
Delma Towler reported a burglary at her Altavista, Virginia home and attempted to walk to her sister's house for safety but was "gunned down like she was an animal or a criminal," according to her daughter.
She should have taken resposibility and stayed out of the way.
Oh, Smitty! You always make me laugh!
You really think the woman was a threat? Come on, they should've been able to handle her.
this is my proposed plan for cuts in social security
Between this and gunning down the one-armed, one-legged man in the wheelchair, it's been a banner week for cops threat assessment abilities.
Incidents like this happen, along with others, when you have bullies, cowboys and thugs wearing the authority of law enforcement. I hope the family collects a gazillion dollars in retribution and the cop who fired the fatal shot is prohibited forever from working in law enforcement or owning a weapon.
She should not have owned a gun or used it. She called the police, she should have stayed inside the house and waited for help. Instead of putting on glasses and her hearing aid and simply waited for the police, she grabbed her gun and shot a warning round?
Most of the time, owning a gun is no protection. It mostly end up getting yourself killed.
It was an unfortunate accident but she only has herself to blame.
Perhaps R7's parents will be next.
R7, when they break into your home and you spray them with Drakkar Noir and they kill you, you deserved it.
The number of people that successfully repel invaders with guns far exceeds the number that are stopped because the cops came while the invasion is happening.
Drakkar Noir can kill anyone. The Romneys have been using it for years.
How To Kill a Law Enforcement Career: The Case of Regina Tasca
by William Norman Grigg
What does it take for a police officer to get fired?
Regina Tasca, a 20-year veteran officer from Bogota, New Jersey, was terminated by the Borough Council on September 21. This decision came after a lengthy investigation into her purported misdeeds.
Prior to her termination, Officer Tasca had never generated a single citizen complaint or official reprimand. She was being considered for promotion before she got in trouble in April 2011.
What horrible deed led to Officer Tasca's dismissal?
Before answering that question, it’s worth reviewing a few recent cases of severe police misconduct that either went entirely unpunished, or resulted in sanctions short of termination.
Lawrenceville, Georgia Police Chief Randy Johnson refuses to fire Detective Tim Ashley, an abusive cop with a nasty habit of imprisoning innocent people – a habit that has already cost the local taxpayers a great deal in legal expenses. Among his victims is Ann Jaipersaud, who operates a Chevron station in Lawrenceville.
When Jaipersaud found herself dealing with an aggravated customer, she made the common – and by now inexcusable – mistake of calling the police for help. As is always the case, matters immediately got much worse after the police intervened in the dispute.
The customer, an American of African ancestry, apparently thought that the store owner (a woman of East Indian descent who was born in Guyana) didn’t want to sell him gas on account of his ethnic background. When told that the station had no gasoline, the customer – who verbally abused the store owner – refused to leave.
Jaipersaud’s call was answered by five officers, including Detective Ashley. After the customer claimed that Jaipersaud had struck him, she pointed out that the store’s security video would prove that she had done no such thing – but she didn’t know how to access it. Ashley demanded that she call her son, who was at school.
"He said I need to get him here now or else," Jaipersaud recalled. "I asked him if he was threatening me…. And he said, `No, I’m arresting you.’" The officer later explained that he arrested Jaipersaud for being "disrespectful." She spent ten hours in jail for what was later determined to be a wrongful arrest. A jury awarded Jaipersaud nearly $140,000 in damages.
Lawrenceville tax victims will almost certainly forced to indemnify Ashley’s crimes against 29-year-old Mississippi resident Carlos Fairley, who was abducted by police in a SWAT-style raid and then spent two months behind bars as a result of the detective’s culpable disregard for evidence.
Last November, Fairley – who was earning an honest living as a cook at a casino – tried to obtain a more lucrative position in the plunder-based sector by applying for a position with the Transportation Security Administration. A background check by the agency found that Fairley had outstanding arrest warrants in Lawrenceville for two counts of armed robbery.
At this point the alert reader will probably ask two questions:
"Wait – the TSA actually does background checks on applicants? And an accusation of armed robbery would be considered a disqualification, rather than an endorsement, for someone seeking to join the TSA’s corps of molesters and petty thieves?"
In any case, Fairley was told he had to clear up the warrants before being considered for employment with the TSA. When he called the Lawrenceville PD to inform them that he had not so much as visited Georgia for nine years, "Ashley `loudly and rudely’ said he knew Fairley committed the crime and hung up on him," recounts the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The warrants were issued on the basis of a photo lineup that included a picture of Fairley when he was booked after being arrested as a teenager roughly a decade ago for "joyriding" in a stolen vehicle. Furthermore, the eyewitness testimony described the robber as having a face disfigured by several tattoos; Fairley’s face is unmarked. This difference should have been obvious even to a specimen like Tim Ashley.
A few weeks after he contacted Ashley, Fairley was seized in a guns-drawn police raid in Mississippi and extradited to Georgia, where he was imprisoned for three months
Defense attorney Jason Robert Cornell, who represented Carlos, recalled to Pro Libertate that the young father "was stuck in jail for 2 months while I desperately tried to prove his innocence. I wasn't entitled toany portion of the investigative file, seeing as he hadn't yet been indicted. I had to defend the case blind."
As an out-of-state defendant accused of a violent felony, Carlos wasn’t going to be granted bond even if is family could afford it, Carnell observes.
"Fortunately, after showing the Assistant District Attorney Carlos' banking records, showing that he had withdrawn $40 from a Biloxi ATM 45 minutes before he was supposed to be robbing someone in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and pictures of another guy in Gwinnett County Jail who looked very similar to Carlos – and who had been arrested for armed robbery -- the ADA suggested we have the victims identify him in court."
Carnell rejected that offer, because in-court identification would have been "highly suggestive and prejudicial to Carlos." Instead, the defense "agreed to a photo line-up. I provided the photo of Carlos and the other guy and Tim Ashley provided a few others. Neither of the two victims picked Carlos….The ADA then grudgingly told me he was dismissing the warrants without apology to me or Carlos."
In addition to having two months of his life stolen from him, Carlos now bears the all but ineffaceable taint of the fraudulent arrest.
"Carlos lost his job at a Biloxi casino," Carnell explains. "He lost his Dodge Charger he had just bought and his name is permanently tarred due to the way GCIC and NCIC keep criminal records. You will always be able to find warrants, for armed robbery, with his name on them -- not to mention his mug shot."
Ashley, on the other hand, enjoys perfect job security despite numerous suspensions for misconduct – including a threatening phone call to his ex-wife’s boyfriend, and refusing to respond to a homicide call while on duty.
Not surprisingly, Fairley has filed a lawsuit against Ashley and the department that employs him. That lawsuit – and the needless abuse of Orlando Fairley – could have been avoided if Ashley had invested a minimal effort in trying to identify a legitimate suspect, rather than pursuing what appears to be a mission to punish Fairley for impudently asserting his innocence.
Regina Tasca has been responsible for supervising prisoners, but there is no evidence that she ever imprisoned anyone on false pretenses, or arrested a citizen for petty or vindictive reasons.
German Bosque, a Sergeant in the police department terrorizing Opa-Locka, Florida, has been the subject of 41 internal investigations, more than a dozen of them in cases involving battery or excessive force. He was found with counterfeit currency, crack pipes, and cocaine in his police vehicle. On several occasions, Bosque has been accused of domestic violence, stalking, and stealing a car. One of his preferred tactics is to "tune up" – that is, assault – youngsters if they display what he considers "disrespect" toward the police.
Bosque has been arrested three times. He has also been fired five times -- and immediately re-instated with the help of the local criminal’s lobby (more commonly known as the police officers’ union). He is safely ensconced in a $60,000-a-year job as a state-licensed thug.
Officer Regina Tasca was never accused of abusing anybody. As noted above, she has never received a single citizen complaint.
The City of Scottsdale, Arizona faces a lawsuit by the daughter of John Loxas II, who was fatally shot by Officer James Peters, a former SWAT operative previously involved in six fatal officer-involved shootings. Peters killed John Loxas II on February 14. At the time, the 50-year-old grandfather was holding a seven-month-old baby.
Although police "could see that the suspect had the baby in his arms" just before Peters fired the fatal shot, Loxas was unarmed, according to a Scripps wire service account. "After several calls for Loxas to exit the home, he opened the door with the baby in his left hand, and stood just inside the doorway…. Officers then saw Loxas reach down to his right, lowering the baby and exposing his head and upper body. Peters then responded to the movement with a single shot to Loxas’ head."
Two years ago, Loxas was arrested following a report that Loxas had been seen "yelling and walking around with a handgun." Although officers described him as "drunk" and "threatening his neighbors with a pistol," he was not charged with aggravated assault – as Arizona statutes would dictate if that description were accurate – but for the trivial offense of "disorderly conduct."
The Valentine’s Day incident began in similar fashion. The police were summoned by a report that Loxas had kicked a neighbor’s garbage can into the street while he was on a walk with his nine-month-old grandson. When police arrived they found him outside his home. Ordered to "step away" from the house, Loxas retreated inside. Without any evidence that Loxas intended to harm the child, the officers created a "crisis entry team" – that is, they escalated the conflict by imposing a military protocol that led to the summary execution of a man who wasn’t suspected of a violent crime.
Although Loxas was treated as if he were a heavily armed barricaded kidnapper, a search of his home turned up a total of two firearms – neither of which was within easy reach when he was killed by Officer Peters – and an object described as a "functional improvised explosive device" that was disposed of by a bomb squad and not inspected by any independent party.
The Scottsdale PD has claimed that the paramilitary tactics used in the confrontation were dictated by concerns for the infant’s safety. It’s not clear how shooting the grandfather while he was holding the infant was to the child’s benefit. Another possibility is that Loxas, by virtue of his impassioned political opinions, fit the profile of the dreaded "Sovereign Citizens" movement, which has been designated by the FBI as the most prominent domestic "terrorist" threat – and the most acute threat to "officer safety."
While Loxas’s behavior and statements were considered troubling by some, it was Peters who clearly posed a danger to himself and others. During his 12-year career, Peters was involved in seven shootings, six of them fatal. His personnel record is replete with complaints about excessive force, including "dozens" of episodes involving Tasers. In 2005, he was disciplined for pointing a gun at his own head.
Peters left the force following the Loxas shooting – but he wasn’t fired. Instead, he received an "accidental disability retirement," which permits him to collect a full pension. He will probably be able to find employment as a police officer in another jurisdiction. Regina Tasca, who fought the decision to terminate her for more than a year, most likely will lose at least some of her benefits – and, as we will see shortly, she will almost certainly be persona non grata throughout the "law enforcement community."
In Houston, four police officers were recently suspended for engaging in a scheme to embezzle overtime pay by falsifying traffic tickets. Over the past four years, the officers had fraudulently collected almost one million dollars in overtime. One of them, Senior Officer Matthew Davis, soaked up $347,000 in 2008 alone. Davis had previously been suspended for improperly dismissing tickets at the request of a City Council member.
Davis received a 30-day unpaid suspension, as did fellow Officer Steven Running. Senior Officer Kenneth Bigger was handed a 20-day suspension. The sternest punishment – if the term could be applied here – was imposed on Sergeant Paul Terry, who was suspended for 45 days.
By any rational standard, embezzling a million dollars is a serious crime. Yet none of the officers involved in that felonious conspiracy faced criminal charges. None of them has been required to make restitution. None of them was fired.
Accordingly, it would be reasonable to expect that Regina Tasca’s firing offense would be more serious than defrauding Houston’s tax victims out of a million dollars. As it happens, her offense had nothing to do with corruption of any kind.
On September 22, a Houston Police Officer named Matthew Jacob Martin shot and killed 45-year-old Brian Claunch, a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair who was "armed" with a pen. The victim was an emotionally disturbed man living in a group home for the mentally ill. The caretaker made the reliably fatal mistake of calling the police.
According to Houston PD Spokeswoman Jodi Silva, the shooting was justified because Officer Martin, who was supposedly "trapped" by Claunch, feared "for his partner’s safety and his own safety" despite the fact that they were both young, able-bodied, armed individuals confronting an invalid in a wheelchair who was armed with a writing utensil.
The killing of Brian Claunch, which was not Officer Martin’s first shooting, precipitated a huge public outcry, and the Police Chief has called for a Justice Department investigation. On previous performance it is all but certain that Martin will not be prosecuted, nor is it likely that he will suffer injury to his career.
It so happens that the incident that led to Regina Tasca’s firing offense also involved an emotionally disturbed and unarmed individual who was perceived as a threat to officer safety. Did she shoot and kill the subject, or use disproportionate force in subduing him?
No. As the officer in charge of the situation, Tasca followed the Bogota Police Department’s use-of-force policy to the letter by intervening to protect the victim from a criminal assault committed by an officer from another department.
As Officer Tasca summarized the matter in an interview with Pro Libertate last spring: "I didn’t fail to aid another officer; I acted to stop a beatdown." Tasca interposed herself to stop Sgt. Joe Rella’s assault on 22-year-old Kyle Sharp, an emotionally troubled young man who had done nothing to justify police violence of any kind.
About two days after the episode, Tasca was labeled a "danger" to her fellow officers and suspended by the department. Following a year of disciplinary reviews, psychological evaluations, and a spurious legal process worthy of the Soviet Union, Tasca was fired.
Tasca was on patrol on April 29, 2011 when she got a call for medical assistance. Former Bogota Council Member Tara Sharp, concerned about the erratic behavior of her son Kyle, called the police to take him to the hospital for a psychological evaluation. As noted earlier, requesting police intervention, particularly in cases of this kind, is never a good idea. Sharp was exceptionally fortunate that Officer Tasca was the first to respond: She has years of experience as an EMT and had just completed specialized training on situations involving psychologically disturbed people.
Once on the scene, Tasca acted quickly to calm down the distraught young man, whose mood changed abruptly when he saw the other officers arrive.
The official report on the matter, which was written by retired Judge Richard Donohue, claims that Kyle "was aggressive [and] started to walk away…." Only someone incurably inhospitable to both logic and honesty would describe walking away as "aggressive" behavior. Kyle also instructed the police not to step on his property, which was a lawful order the police were required to obey. Instead, Sgt. Chris Thibault tackled Kyle, wrapped him in a bear hug, and attempted to handcuff him. Within an instant, Sgt. Joe Rella piled on and began to slug Kyle in the head while his horrified mother screamed at the officers to stop.
According to Thibault, it was necessary to assault Kyle because he believed "danger is near for us if we let this kid go."
No, really. That’s what Thibault said, under oath, during Tasca’s disciplinary hearing.
Tasca instinctively did what any legitimate peace officer would do: She intervened to protect the victim, pulling Rella off the helpless and battered young man. Tasca’s act was one of instinctive decency, genuine principle, and no small amount of courage. It was also the action dictated by her department’s use-of-force policy, the first page of which specifies that it is "the responsibility of law enforcement to take steps possible to prevent or stop the illegal or inappropriate use of force by other officers."
In his report on the case, Judge Donohue acknowledged that Tasca acted in compliance with the use-of-force policy – but he dismissed that fact on the preposterous grounds that "no evidence was presented to establish that Officer Tasca even knew about the document."
Only an uncommonly inventive sophist would pretend that the important question is whether Tasca was aware of the document stating the policy, rather than whether her actions were in accord with that policy.
Earlier in the same month, Tasca had prompted criticism for failing to rush to the aid of her partner, Officer Jay Fowler, during a brief confrontation with a tiny, drunken woman at a hospital. The woman, who was not a criminal suspect, was taken to the hospital for medical attention. She decided to leave, and when Fowler – who had already surrendered custody to the hospital – tried to stop her, the young woman "flailed" her arms, inflicting a small scratch on one of Fowler’s hands that tore open an old scab.
As a result of this "altercation" with a woman whom he outweighed by about 100 pounds, Fowler spent a week on paid medical leave, according to Donohue’s report.
"Nobody had said anything to me about the earlier case until after the incident with the Ridgefield officers," Tasca pointed out to me. Her refusal to gang-tackle a tiny, confused woman in a hospital, coupled with her active intervention to stop a criminal assault on an unarmed, mentally unbalanced man who was not a criminal suspect, supposedly established a "pattern" of behavior that made Tasca a danger to her fellow officers.
After being put on suspension, Tasca was subjected to a psychological evaluation by Dr. Matthew Geller, a psychiatrist who does contact work for New Jersey law enforcement agencies. Geller’s assessment reads like something compiled by a State-employed psychiatrist in the Brezhnev-era Soviet psihuska. Geller claims that Tasca suffers from something called a "mixed personality disorder," displaying "a personality type characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiose self-importance and exaggerated sense of talent and achievement."
This purported dysfunction, once again, wasn’t noticed until after Tasca displayed the character and integrity to take the morally appropriate action – one dictated by the official guidelines of her department – in defiance of pressure from her peers and superiors to conform.
Tasca, an openly gay female police officer, believes that at least some of the problems she’s experienced are the product of a cultural clash with what she describes as "the Old Boys Club." Judge Donohue’s report mentions two instances in which she was criticized by for not extending what is euphemistically called "professional courtesy" by writing traffic citations against another officer.
Despite such frictions, Tasca’s job appeared secure – until the moment she behaved like a peace officer, rather than a law enforcer, and crossed the "Blue Line" by coming to the defense of Kyle Sharp.
Fidelity to the tribal interests of the punitive priesthood will cover a multitude of crimes, but taking the side of a Mundane being attacked by a member of the Brotherhood is an unpardonable offense.
She was standing her ground, so this worked out quite well for her.
If you really want to get riled up about police abuses throughout the United States I suggest you visit the link and read the stories. If they don't make your blood boil then you must be dead.
Mama said maybe grandma's AARP tattoo set it all off: Alive! Armed! Rowdy! Pooped!
Stay away from cops, they are ALWAYS more dangerous than criminals.
R18, I love Will Grigg, but reading about the routine abuses of police power is depressing.
Both parties have conspired to create a police state, and I have no doubt that the 314,159,265 hollow point bullets recently purchased by DHS are intended for people like us that oppose the police state.
Thankfully the massive debt, institutional incompetence, military overreach and blatant propaganda means that DC will soon be a ghost town once the powers usurped by the leeches in DC are returned to the states.
Isn't it sad, R20?
People worship the government but as soon as you point out that the wars overseas, the domestic spying, the unlimited money printing by the Federal Reserve, the bribing with "foreign aid", etc. couldn't exist without a large national government they lose their minds and defend their slavery.
Have you seen this blog? The guy who runs it documents all kinds of police abuses.
R9. R11-R16, R21-R23 needs to use links more consistently, get a grip, find medication that works, and seek good therapy before she can presume to be an effective spokesperson for official abuse. Her posts are a form of officious abuse, whatever the bases of some of her concerns.
It was a white woman for a change! Thank you Jesus!
Why, R24? Because I recognize that 99% of cops and politicians are corrupt?
Have you applied to the Stasi?
OP, you need to provide a link or links to content you repost, if you insist on reposting content instead creating original threads. Somewhere like Reddit would be a more appropriate place to aggregate news stories. DataLounge is not a news aggregator.
I see a working link in the OP, R27. Maybe it's your browser?
So granny dialed 911, then grabbed her gun, fired a warning shot out the window (?!?), walked outside with weapon drawn but no glasses or hearing aid...?
Not the cops fault.
At her age, it was more or less her time anyway. What's the problem?
That's true, they probably did her and her family a favor. Death by cop is easier than death by Parkinson's.
So basically 911 is now a suicide line?
Yes, R32. Now there are three options:
If you are contemplating suicide, you call a crisis prevention center, and they talk you out of it.
If you are not contemplating suicide, you post something on DataLounge, and they talk you into it.
And if you fear for your life, you call 911, and they give you good reason.
Good one, R32
Cops are thugs with badges.
Fuck the police!
so I'm assuming they let anyone who walks in off the street join the po-lice.
No, R36. They screen them so that only the most deranged and sociopathic get the job.
What amazes me is the number of people here who defend the government all the time, except the military and police. You can't have a socialist system without enforcers.
"Hi, my name is Larry Wasden," explained the short, stocky man, flashing a politician's practiced smile and extending a hand. "I'm the Attorney General."
"Mr. Wasden, my name is Will Grigg," I replied, shaking his hand. "Several years ago you tried to put a 66-year-old retired nun named Carol Asher in prison for fourteen years because she acted as a conscientious juror. Have you ever apologized to her for that abuse of discretion?"
My ice-breaker caused Wasden's smile to evaporate, and it was quickly replaced with an expression of perplexed surprise.
"What – what abuse of discretion? What case are you talking about?" he stammered.
"Carol Asher is a retired nun from northern Idaho who was called to serve on a jury in a narcotics case," I explained. "She was one of several jurors who voted to acquit, and during the deliberations – made in the confidentiality of the jury room – she apparently made some comments about the fully-informed jury principle. This was seen as a violation of assurances that she would be bound by the judge's instructions. After the case was dismissed, one of the jurors reported her to the prosecutor – and your office filed felony perjury charges against her."
"Well, I don't remember any of the details of this matter," Wasden replied as he started to sidle away from me.
"Perhaps you should re-acquaint yourself with them," I suggested.
"I don't really see any reason to," he said, walking away while displaying a dismissive smirk.
The occasion that brought about this brief but telling conversation was a December 12 meeting held at the Portia Club in Payette, Idaho to discuss the state's open records and open meetings law. Wasden and several of his associates – people whose livelihood depends on official opacity, not public transparency – were present to teach us how to ask just the right questions in order to get the self-serving answers they were willing to provide.
Wasden was obviously caught off-guard by a polite but pointed question, and more than likely offended by it. After all, a meeting to discuss the open records law was hardly the proper forum at which to demand accountability from a public servant such as himself.
My only purpose in attending the meeting was to ask Wasden about the Asher case. I knew he would be in attendance, and intended to confront him about his misconduct – but since he was the one who approached me, I can't honestly be accused of ambushing him. Our conversation took place about five minutes before the meeting began, which meant that I was able to devote most of my evening to more productive pursuits.
Wasden was utterly mystified by the mention of the Carol Asher case, which was the source of considerable controversy in Idaho back in 2006. He honestly didn't remember who Carol Asher is, which is understandable. But he absolutely didn't care about what his office did to her, which is unforgivable.
"It's interesting that Mr. Wasden doesn't remember me or anything about my case, because he was certainly aware of it at the time," Asher told Pro Libertate. "And after the charge against me was dismissed I wrote him a long, polite letter letting him know that I held no rancor toward him, and explaining why I took the stand that I did. He never responded to my letter."
If I had inflicted needless misery on an innocent, law-abiding, 66-year-old woman, sleep would be a stranger to me until I had done everything possible to make amends. Beyond what I've learned from the public record and a very brief conversation I know nothing of Larry Wasden. The fact that he has forgotten everything about his attempt to imprison Asher for life suggests to me that his is the untroubled sleep known only to the most innocent of children, and the most incurable of sociopaths.
In late 2005, Asher was called to jury duty for the narcotics trial of William Edward Clark, a young man of Indian ancestry who lived in a northern Idaho village called White Bird. Clark was employed at a local restaurant. He also had a police record replete with petty charges of the kind that suggested he was the focus of frequent and largely unwarranted police attention.
One afternoon the previous March, Clark was given the keys to the company vehicle – an old pickup truck – and sent to Grangeville with a large load of aluminum cans to be recycled. He stopped at the Tolo Lake Mammoth Replica, locked the truck, and went to see the exhibit. A Grangeville City Police Officer drove by and spotted the truck.
At the time, Clark was the subject of a "fugitive warrant," but the available record in the Idaho Repository doesn't clearly state why. He was sentenced to probation on a misdemeanor battery charge, and then slapped with a statewide "failure to appear" bench warrant that appears to have been revoked in January. In any case, the officer recognized either Clark or the vehicle he was driving, executed a U-turn, and pulled in behind the truck.
When the officer approached Clark, he demanded the keys in order to search the truck. Clark quite properly refused to turn over the keys, pointing out that the pickup was, in effect, a company vehicle that didn't belong to him. The officer called for backup, and an Idaho County Sheriff's Deputy soon arrived. The two of them ganged up on Clark, seized the keys, and searched the truck.
On the dashboard of the truck the officers found a CD case containing a tiny ziplock bag in which was hidden .15 of a gram of meth, which had an estimated street value of about five dollars.
"No physical evidence or eyewitness testimony connected Clark to the drugs," Asher recalls of Clark's two-day trial. "The prosecution wasn't able to demonstrate that Clark was aware that it was in the vehicle. Since it was used by many other people, and the drugs were very carefully hidden, there was plenty of room for reasonable doubt. And since the search was clearly illegal, there wasn't really any reason for the arrest in the first place. But the court-appointed defense attorney just sat there like a stump and didn't raise the issue, and the trial judge wouldn't allow jurors to raise it, either."
In his smug assurance that the case was a slam-dunk, the Idaho County Prosecutor Kirk MacGregor didn't bother to prove it. After all, Clark was a socially marginal Indian kid with a bad reputation and a growing rap sheet; his accusers were two valiant defenders of the public weal; and besides, this was a drug case, which means that the defendant simply must be guilty of something.
What MacGregor didn't realize is that there was at least one member of the jury who intended to force the state to prove its case against the defendant.
Prior to the trial, Judge John Bradbury had informed the jurors that they would be able to submit questions directly to him.
"Each of us was given a notepad on which to write our questions, and several of them were given to Judge Bradbury," Asher relates. "All of them were read by the judge verbatim – except for the two I submitted, which he paraphrased and then dismissed."
During the testimony of the two police officers involved in the arrest, Asher asked the same question: "In your understanding of the law, Officer, was it lawful and proper to force a search of the defendant's pickup without first obtaining a warrant?"
"The first time I posed that question, rather than reading it aloud Bradbury simply said that a juror had asked about the legality of the search and he said that at some point prior to the trial it had been 'agreed' that the search was legal," Asher recalls. "The second time he said something to the effect of, 'There's a juror here who is still having trouble regarding the legality of the search. That matter is decided and must be left aside.'"
When the jury began its deliberations, Asher was amazed – and somewhat disgusted – by the eagerness displayed by the other jurors to offer an uncritical ratification of the prosecution's case.
"I listened to various initial comments from at least half of the jurors," she summarized in an affidavit filed prior to her own trial in 2006. "Rather than focusing on real evidence presented against him (or the lack of it), the young man was being criticized for everything from his casual dress to 'looking cocky' to his (supposed) cocky eye contact and confident smiles he frequently directed to members of the jury."
When it was Asher's turn to speak, she expressed "concern about what seemed to me a wrongful search on the part of the police. The jury foreman then reminded me that the judge had ruled out the matter of the search, and that we were not allowed to consider it."
Displaying the dutiful docility so commonplace among collectivist drones, the foreman insisted that the proper role of the jury was to act as an instrument of state power, rather than an impediment to it. Asher tried to remind her fellow jurors that their duty was to follow the law, rather than ratify the prosecution's case.
"I can't take my orders merely from a judge, but am bound by a higher authority to render fair and just judgment according to the dictates of my own conscience in trying to protect the rights of the accused," Asher explained.
"Well, then, it looks like you could be facing big trouble here," sneered the foreman. "You just could be charged with perjury."
After taking comments from the other jurors, the foreman called for a vote. Eight members of the panel voted guilty; Asher and three others voted to acquit. The hung jury resulted in a mistrial.
As soon as court was adjourned, the foreman – in violation of the confidentiality of jury deliberations – did his duty to the State by reporting Asher's comments to MacGregor. The vindictive functionary immediately contacted Wasden and demanded that the State of Idaho file a felony perjury charge against Asher. This was clearly an act of petty retaliation. It was also an actionable instance of malicious prosecution for which neither MacGregor nor Wasden has ever been held accountable.
There is no legal basis in the State of Idaho for the prosecution of a juror who ignores a judge's instructions regarding the law. Although the Idaho Code dictates that the court will "decide all questions of law which may arise in the course of the trial," it also states that the judge "can give no charge to the jury" – in other words, he cannot bind them to his interpretation of the law.
Idaho's official Guide for Jury Deliberations repeatedly and explicitly state that once the jury begins its deliberations, it has plenary authority to decide the case as it sees fit. The purpose of a judge's instructions, according to the guide, is to "tell you if there are special rules or a set process you should follow. Otherwise, you are free to conduct your deliberations in whatever way is helpful."
Some measure of the poverty of the state's case against Asher can be seen in the haste with which it was dismissed by Magistrate Judge Michael Griffin following a March 7, 2006 evidentiary hearing.
"I'm pretty sure that the charge was dismissed so quickly because they wanted the issue of fully-informed jurors to go away," Asher observes. "The courtroom was full the day of the evidentiary hearing, and I've been told that the court had received hundreds of phone calls from people who were really upset over what was being done to me. It seems clear that the people behind the prosecution simply wanted the matter to disappear and be forgotten."
Carol Asher was neither the first nor the only woman face a "perjury" charge for thwarting the punitive impulses of an ambitious prosecutor. Sitting next to her in the Grangeville courtroom on March 7, 2006 was Colorado attorney Paul Grant, who had represented Laura Kriho, another woman who had been maliciously prosecuted for exercising her authority as a fully informed juror in the 1996 narcotics trial of a 19-year-old girl charged with possession of methamphetamine.
Along with other potential jurors, Kirho was asked by the judge if there was "anything" in her past that "would interfere with your sitting as a fair and impartial juror." She didn't disclose that as a teenager she had received a deferred sentence on a minor drug charge, which was subsequently dismissed (but not removed from the record – nothing ever is). She also supported both drug de-criminalization and jury nullification.
During jury deliberations, Kriho annoyed the other panelists by casting doubt on the reliability of the chief prosecution witness – the arresting officer in the case. She also pointed out that the likely sentence seemed wildly disproportionate to the offense. One juror sent a note to District Judge Kenneth Barnhill demanding that Kriho be dismissed. This led to a mistrial – after which a juror contacted the judge to accuse Kriho of conspiring to hang the jury by not disclosing her beliefs.
Initially charged with felony perjury, Kriho was acquitted of that offense but found guilty of "contempt" and fined $1,200 by Gilpin County Judge Henry Nieto.
As Paul Grant pointed out, Kriho was the first American to be convicted of "the newly minted crime of failure to volunteer information during jury selection. No longer is it enough to honestly answer the questions you are asked; now you also have to answer the questions you were not asked, but that you 'knew' the judge wanted answered."
This was the supposed crime for which Larry Wasden wanted to imprison Carol Asher – and the struggle to beat back that spurious prosecution cost her thousands of dollars she didn't have.
"At the time, I was 66 years old, and although I've tried to take care of myself a 14-year sentence would probably have meant that I would have died in prison," Asher pointed out to me.
This isn't to say that Wasden is incapable of exercising discretion, and modulating his zeal for justice, as he pretends to understand it, on behalf of first-time offenders. About a year after he tried to arrange for Asher to finish her mortal days in prison, Wasden approved a ridiculously lenient sentence for Kevin Buttars, a former Montpelier, Idaho Police Officer who beat, choked, and sexually assaulted a man named Jared Finley.
Given that he was armed and committed his crime with the aid of several armed colleagues, his act qualified as aggravated battery under Idaho law, for which the prescribed penalty is up to fifteen years in prison. (By itself, the chokehold he inflicted on Finley constitutes "attempted strangulation," which is also punishable by a term of fifteen years.)
At the very least, Buttars was guilty of "unnecessary assault by a police officer," which for some reason is considered a misdemeanor in Idaho. The specified punishment for that crime is a year in jail and a $5000 fine. This is a lighter punishment than the typical Idaho resident would receive for driving with a suspended license.
Wasden signed off on a plea deal under which Buttars served two weeks in jail, paid a $500 fine and court costs, and spent a year on probation – time he put to productive use by filing a "wrongful termination" lawsuit against the City of Montpelier.
Lawrence Wasden was just as expansively accommodating toward a violent degenerate in a government-issued costume as he was perversely determined to imprison an elderly woman for the supposed crime of being a conscientious juror. He vindicates one of my oft-repeated maxims: People who don't despise prosecutors simply aren't paying attention.