A tale of two cases

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

This’ll be interesting: In July, Prince George’s County police stormed a mayor’s home, handcuffed his mother-in-law and shot his two black labs after police themselves had delivered a package of marijuana to him that they now concede was intended for someone else. They took mad heat for it nationally; the FBI is involved; editorial boards are outraged.

The story began, though, on page one of the Post’s Metro section (with apologies if a local paper reported it even earlier) and it grew from there. Today’s Metro section holds a story on the front that has the potential to be even worse. The victim this time, however, is Latino and he — rather than his pets — was shot and killed after being beaten, according to two witnesses.

Police have alternately said that the victim reached either for the officer’s baton or for his gun. The cop was off duty, moonlighting as a security guard when he shot Manuel de Jesus Espina.

A difference (beyond race and class) in the two cases is that, in the mayor’s case, all the facts were stipulated by both sides. Here, it starts out as the cop’s word against the witnesses. Given the PG County cops’ record over the last few months — they also apparently strangled a suspect while in jail in July — that’s a dispute that can be won by the witnesses. It’ll be worth watching this story to see if it sinks into the muck at the bottom of the pond.

– Ryan

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12 Responses to “A tale of two cases”

  1. #1 |  Bob | 

    This sure looks like a case of an over-amped cop doing everything possible to escalate a situation until it’s out of control. But we need more information.

    First question. Why was the officer there? Was he moonlighting as a security gua

  2. #2 |  Bob | 

    Oops! Sorry! I spazzed on the keyboard before I could finish that. This is what happens when you comment before having your coffee.

    This sure looks like a case of an over-amped cop doing everything possible to escalate a situation until it’s out of control. But we need more information.

    First question. Why was the officer there? Was he moonlighting as a security guard inside that building? That seems pretty unlikely.

    Second question, the guy beaten, Manuel, wasn’t out in public or on a street corner.. he was right outside his own apartment (Ok, the apartment of his friends.) Why did the officer suddenly decide to jack the guy? Was he disturbing the peace? What was his ‘probable cause’?

    There has to be a better way to handle a drunk guy (Assuming he was drunk) in a stairwell than to escalate the situation until he ‘resists’.

  3. #3 |  Bob | 

    This whole episode screams “abuse of authority”.

    Here’s the first report:
    http://www.gazette.net/stories/08182008/prinnew124806_32465.shtml

    The link to the subsequent witness report is in the blog.

    From the article I linked:
    “Tippett, a spokesman for the department. Police officials did not know if Jackson speaks any Spanish.”

    What would be the point of being a security guard in a apartment building filled (I assume) with latinos if you don’t speak spanish? I assume he DID speak spanish, and the department is just trying to cover it’s ass. Poorly.

    Why would you try to arrest someone for ‘Alcohol violations’ right outside their OWN DOOR? You’d think the incident would go like this:

    Cop (er… security guard): “Dude! Are you drinking?”
    Dude: Uh. Yeah?
    Cop: “Where di you live?”
    Dude: “I’m staying with friends in this apartment. ”
    Cop: “You should go inside, then. You could be arrested for being drunk in public here on the stairwell.”

    How hard is that?

    Next… the cop is NOT ON DUTY. He’s working as a security guard. Why is he trying to arrest people? Since when do off duty police officers get to make misdemeanor arrests? There was no outstanding warrant indicated, no emergency situation. Shouldn’t proper procedure be to call in on duty officers if an arrest needed to be made?

  4. #4 |  Bob | 

    I’m trying not to be paranoid here…. but here’s another case in Prince George’s county:

    http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0708/538567.html

    It also involves an off duty cop. This time he’s just minding his own business when baddies try to rob him.

    Wait! It’s 3:40am. The cop is a driver, not someone who would be working that late at night.

    So… Why was this guy cruising the streets at 3:40 am? Was he TRYING to get robbed?

    When was the last time YOU were hanging out in an apartment building parking lot at 3:40 am? This isn’t some 20 year old kid partying all night… the officer has 22 year’s experience with the department.

    Is it possible that these guys take moonlight jobs as security guards, then cruise the streets looking for trouble?

  5. #5 |  MassHole | 

    Apparently cops moonlight all the time as security guards while wearing their uniform, badge and gun. I had a very nasty run in with one years ago.

  6. #6 |  Frank | 

    Here’s another in NYC involving two female cops who decided to pistol-whip (among other things) a driver.

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/08192008/news/regionalnews/lady_cops_arrested_in_bronx_beat_125110.htm

  7. #7 |  Frank | 

    Also check out “Just A Dog” over on http://www.tuccille.com/blog/

  8. #8 |  Bob | 

    The two female cops one? That one is worth watching to see if they get the punishment they deserve. They should be persecuted as if they weren’t cops.

    The “Just a dog” one, while I feel for the dog owner, and the officer was certainly being an unfeeling ass…. he did nothing criminally wrong. He didn’t taser the guy, or try to escalate the situation with the intent of getting a ‘Resisting Arrest’ arrest.

    And you gotta admit, 100 mph is hard core crazy fast on a busy road. There was no way the officer could say “What? Fido’s in trouble? I’ll give you a police escort to the Dog Hospital!” Neither could he just let him drive off. This was a no-win situation.

    Ok, the officer was insensitive. But ‘insensitive’ and ‘abusing authority’ are light years apart.

  9. #9 |  Bob | 

    Here we go! The officer involved in the shooting of the robbery suspect is William M. Peaco.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/25/AR2008072500686.html

    My first thought was… Peaco… Peaco… why does that sound familiar? Oh! Of course! He’s been involved in police shootings for a while now!

    It turns out, Peaco lives 8 miles away, and was sitting in his car in the parking lot. (I gather that since the car was damage in the shootout and had to be towed, also, witnesses said he was.).

    What reason was there for him to be parked in a car at 3:40am in a parking lot 8 miles from his home known for car break ins? Does he think he’s the Punisher? A vigilante with a badge?

  10. #10 |  Frank | 

    We’re trying to make sure that the community doesn’t lose faith in the police and the job they’re trying to do,” Ramirez said.

    TOO LATE!

  11. #11 |  Paul | 

    Wow. This one sounds terrible. They also arrested his son, presumably for screaming at the cop who just murdered his father.

  12. #12 |  old | 

    #8 | Bob | August 19th, 2008 at 2:09 pm
    The two female cops one? That one is worth watching to see if they get the punishment they deserve. They should be persecuted as if they weren’t cops.

    Prosecuted?

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