LA Cops Cleared of Murder; Chicago Peace Protesters Cleared of 'Terrorism'
February 10, 2014
The Los Angeles Times & Michael Tarm / Associated Press
In Los Angeles, eight police officers who violated department policy by shooting two innocent women during a hunt for another police officer who has gone on a murder rampage were cleared of charges and will be returned to the field. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the city's chief prosecutor charged three nonviolent protestors under an almost never-used Illinois law that identifies "self-described anarchists" as "terrorists." They were convicted, instead, on charges of arson and mob action.
Eight LA Police Cleared in Attempted Murder of Two Innocent Women
Cops Who Shot Women during Dorner Stakeout Will Return to Field
The Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES (February 5, 2014) -- Eight Los Angeles police officers who violated department policy when they mistakenly opened fire on two women during the hunt for Christopher Dorner will be retrained and returned to the field, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a department-wide message Wednesday.
The message, sent on the LAPD's internal computer network and obtained by The Times, notes his disapproval in the actions of the seven officers and one sergeant. [Read the complete reports at the links provided at the end of this article. -- EAW.]
"While I understand supervisors and officers were required to make split-second decisions regarding the perceived threat presented before them I found it to be very concerning that officers fired before adequately identifying a threat; fired without adequately identifying a target and not adequately evaluating cross fire situations," Beck said.
Beck's decision to retrain the officers does not preclude him from imposing discipline on some or all of them, although several police sources said it is unlikely he will do so.
If Beck does discipline the officers, the penalties are expected to be warnings, written admonishments or similarly light punishments, the sources said.
His message is clear that the officers continue to have his support. "I have confidence in their abilities as LAPD officers to continue to do their jobs in the same capacity they had been assigned," Beck said. "In the end, we as an organization can learn from this incident and from the individuals involved."
In response to the chief's message, Steve Soboroff, president of the police commission, which oversees the LAPD, expressed disappointment that Beck did not issue more severe penalties for the officers.
Soboroff acknowledged that the authority to discipline belongs to the chief, but said, "With that said, I would have expected more significant discipline for the actions of most of the officers in this incident. I trust that the training will be extensive and the Department and officers will move forward from this tragic incident."
Beck sent the message a day after the Police Commission followed his recommendation to find that the officers violated department policy. Beck faulted the officers for jumping to the conclusion that Dorner was in the truck they opened fire upon. Beck said the officers compounded their mistake by shooting in one another's direction with an unrestrained barrage of gunfire.
"This was a tragic cascade of circumstance that led to an inaccurate conclusion by the officers," Beck said at a news conference after the commission's action. "I sympathize with the officers, but I have a very high standard for the application of deadly force, and the shooting did not meet that standard."
The findings come after months of internal debate over whether the officers should be excused in light of the intense pressure they were under as they kept watch for Dorner, a former LAPD officer who had killed three people and vowed more bloodshed as he sought vengeance against the law enforcement officials he blamed for his firing.
Document (47 pages)
Chief Beck's report on mistaken-ID shooting
Document (36 pages)
Police Commission report on mistaken-ID shooting
Nonviolent Protesters Cleared of Terror Charges
NATO Trial Prosecutor Stands Behind Terror Charges
Michael Tarm / Associated Press
CHICAGO (February 7, 201) -- During an atmosphere two years ago when Chicago officials were warning demonstrations could turn violent at an upcoming NATO summit, the chief prosecutor chose to invoke an almost never-used Illinois law to charge several self-described anarchists with terrorism.
After jurors acquitted three activists Friday of all terrorism charges -- convicting them instead of lesser arson and mob action counts -- journalists asked Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez if, in hindsight, she regretted filing the more-serious charges.
"Absolutely not!" she said, her voice rising in a courtroom hallway. "I would bring these charges (again) tomorrow morning -- with no apologies and no second-guessing."
Prosecutors had accused Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly of plotting, in the weeks leading up to the summit, Molotov cocktail attacks on President Barack Obama's campaign office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and police stations. Two undercover officers infiltrated their inner circle, and the young activists were arrested just days before the summit began.
If the jurors' finding wasn't a win in what was widely seen as a test case of Illinois' terrorism statute, nor was it a defeat for her office, Alvarez said.
"How is this a defeat? ... We saved people from being hurt," she said. "Do we have to wait for a Chicago police officer to be set on fire? ... Do we have to wait for that neighborhood bank to go up in flames?"
Alvarez noted that with their convictions on lesser counts, Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Chase, 29, of Keene, N.H.; and Betterly, 25, of Oakland Park, Fla., still face between four and 30 years prison.
The defense, though, said it was a decisive defeat for such state terrorism laws, at least in how Alvarez's office applied them.
"There aren't many terrorism cases the government ... the state ... hasn't won in this country," said Thomas Durkin, Chase's attorney.
Illinois was among more than 30 states nationwide that adopted state terrorism laws in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many saw the bills as largely symbolic.
But Alvarez said Friday that Illinois' statue was fashioned for just such scenarios: The three activists had come to Chicago while it was in the world spotlight, intending through violence to send a political message. Those actions, she said, fell properly into the terrorism category.
Michael Deutch, Church's attorney, accused Alvarez of ramping up charges to the level of terrorism as a way to warn other protesters flooding into Chicago and to score political points with Chicagoans frightened by talk of potential violence.
"When we start to trivialize terrorism and charge protesters with terrorism ... we are threatening all kinds of rights to protest and to speak out," he said.
Until Friday, state prosecutors hadn't directly addressed why they took on the terrorism case rather than letting federal prosecutors -- with vastly more experience trying such cases -- take the lead.
Durkin, who has represented alleged terrorists in high-profile cases in federal court, has said U.S. government attorneys may have concluded the evidence was weak and so refused to take it on. But Alvarez said there never a question of feds taking or not taking the case.
"This was our case from the beginning," she said. "We never asked federal authorities to take this case. ... They never declined."
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.