|11-05-2016, 11:30 AM||#1|
Joined: Jun 2016
if there's no live witness dont call the cops
this was posted on the net.
I have not been in a self defense shooting, but a situation going on 26 years ago taught me two things: that bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere, and that just because you are the good guy and victim in a situation doesn't mean that is how the courts will see it.
Dec 1990 I'm out with one of my best friends (he's black, and that was the motive for the attack against us) and some girls. Some guy walks into the convenience store where we are picking up a few things before going to another friends house and he starts verbally accosting my friend and accusing him of causing trouble with him at a party early that evening (we were all together all evening, and we were never at a party). As soon as we go outside, the guy is in my friend's face trying to get him to fight him. I try to get between them and talk them down, at which point 4 of the guy's friends jump me. Being jumped by 4 guys, and being an inexperienced fighter (my last, and only, fight before these guys jumped me was when I was 12, I was 20 at this time), I was down on the ground quickly. The last thing I remember before going unconscious was them (or someone) screaming "kill the (n-word), Kill the (n-word) lover." They only stop when people (potential witnesses) come out and the girls we were with start screaming at them (they were continuing to kick me while I was unconscious- luckily I only suffered a broken nose and a concussion), and my buddy got their tag number. When the police showed up, they talked to none of the neutral witnesses who were still there (most, but not all of the customers left, but the store employees were there), they took our statements (there were 4 of us including the girls we were with, but the girls only saw some but not all of it since we were out the door first), and then found our attacker's car. They took me and my friend in the back of their car to identify our attackers and then took their statements, and after about an hour finally took me to the hospital (which was only about 200 yards from where we were attacked). I guess because it was 5 v. 4 as far as witness statements, they mostly took what the 5 guys who attacked us said as fact and wrote it in the police report (which is important later as it made it a very uphill climb for us when we got to court).
Being from well educated, middle class families, we knew not to be involved in a court case (even as victims) without a lawyer, and it turns out that this was a very good decision and was the only thing that kept us out of jail. The statements given by our attackers and "enshrined" on the police report painted us as the aggressors, and from what my parents (who were in the courtroom) and our lawyer told us, we were painted as thugs, violent, and definitely the aggressors (remember, my last and only prior fight was when I as 12, I'm not exactly the violent type). These guys had extensive and often violent juvenile records, which could not be used since they were now adults (even though some of the juvenile arrests and convictions were less than a year old). All there also (our parents and our lawyer) thought the judge believed the defense's version of events with us as the instigators. Of course, we saw none of what happened in court except when we were on the stand since the judge sent us out early on (importantly, with no instructions), and our lawyer followed us out to tell us that he was surprised the judge did not tell us not to talk about the case, but to be safe we should only talk about unrelated things until after we testify. Around that time, one of the defendant's mothers came out and when we were talking (about everything but our attack and the trial since our lawyer advised us not to talk about that) she was looking at us with an odd smile. Shortly after we all testify, the mother goes in, and then we are called in with a quite serious tone one at a time.
Apparently, the mother said we were talking about the case and telling each other to "stick to the story." When called in we were questioned about what we talked about, which we answered (since what we talked about had nothing to do with the case we thought we had nothing to hide), we were lectured about how much trouble we were in, and the only decision was how long we were going to jail. When we were all called back, the judge said it didn't matter if we talked about the case and were getting our stories straight or not since we violated his order not to talk at all before sending us out (he claimed to always give this instruction) and we were going to jail for contempt. At that, I tried to interject (I was a 21 year old college student at the trial, what did I know of court decorum) and told him he didn't give us any instructions before sending us out and he called me a liar and told me I was adding to my sentence, I asked him to check the transcript and he said I was making it worse. Luckily, as I said, we had a lawyer who said the exact same thing I did and the judge listed to him (none of us went to jail).
I was told by our lawyer that the prosecutor made mistake after mistake, not presenting evidence she should have, and not challenging defense evidence she should have. The only of our attackers to get any punishment were two who plead guilty. They got a slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, my friend and I almost went to jail for being the victims and not being in the room (because we were sent out) when the judge gave some key instructions (to everyone but us since he gave them to the courtroom we had just been escorted out of). I also was threatened with a lawsuit for malicious prosecution by one of our remaining attackers if we didn't drop the charges.
Incidentally, I also learned (as part of them painting us as violent thugs), the fact that I had been in the Army and was at that time going to a military college was proof that I was a violent thug and wanted to hurt people. Meanwhile, the fact that one of our attackers was in the Navy was proof that he was an upstanding citizen. Hmm, does it sound like I'm still a bit upset over this whole situation...
Anyway, I learned from the attack, that even when you are a regular citizen, who keeps out of trouble, and is minding your own business, trouble can find you. I also learned from the court proceedings that the police and courts are not your friend, the prosecution isn't there for you if you are the victim, and you better have your own lawyer you trust if you care about your freedom and want to protect your rights.
chaim is offline