Nov 202015
 

by John Donnelly…….
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Law-Enforcement Officers within the United States have broad and expansive powers. They have immense discretion and legal authority to determine under what circumstances lethal force can be applied. This far-reaching authority, along with the capacity to justifiably determine under what circumstances a perceived threat shall be terminated, has been determined by the Supreme Court of the United States to be legal and constitutionally sound conduct.

On Monday, November 9th, 2015; the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state trooper does not have to face a civil lawsuit for firing six rifle shots from a highway overpass, into a motorist driving a vehicle beneath the trooper. These bullets struck and killed the driver of said vehicle. The driver was fleeing from police over a ‘probation violation.’

This man was killed while driving his car at a high rate of speed (85-110 MPH), placing the lives of every other innocent motorist and family member, on this busy road, in harm’s way.

The Supreme Court determined that this trooper did not use excessive force. It was further determined that: “by selecting one dangerous alternative over another,” this law-enforcement officer’s behavior did not constitute inappropriate or excessive force.

Wringing one’s hands in angst, while pounding away on our keyboards proclaiming to the world how improper and illegal the behavior of our police officers are, albeit the incorrectness of our understandings; does not change the law, nor correct any perceived injustice resultant from behavior that one may find disagreeable.

Getting one’s hands dirty and soul bloody via the penetrating effort required to effectively address the constitutional threats and breeches eroding our rights and liberties as a people, is not for the faint of heart. Idle talk, chatter and delusional blather may feed our inflated egos, however, the empty noise emanating from such rants has become the background music for the tragedies, which have become our lives.

The time for man-made remedies has come and gone. We don’t have the juice, desire nor power to transform our world into anything of substance. We are suffocating in a ‘malaise of consciousness,’ strewn with misunderstandings, old ideas and antiquated paradigms propping up remnants of an ego destroyed existence. Ingrained within our human nature is the tendency to repeat old patterns, expecting different results.

The consequences of a ‘grasping self-absorption and ignorance’ are predictable and demonstrative. Not until an accurate self-appraisal is completed; one able to sustain a data induced baseline, as our minds and institutions are re-tooled, making them capable of engineering and constructing viable options and solutions for the realities faced in our lives and world; not until then, will any authentic comfort and hope be a part of our existence.

The aforementioned court case had only one dissenting Supreme Court Justice. She stated: “By sanctioning a ‘shoot first, think later’ approach to policing, the court renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow.” Unfortunately for those in agreement with her, you are outnumbered 8 to 1.

Courts provide law-enforcement officers with great latitude and leeway, covering a wide range of “‘immunized protections,” when it comes to exercising discretion and the use of deadly force. Conservation of one’s resources requires, for the most part, that we reserve our outrage and energies for an authentic opponent. An individual who has actually violated the law.

The house where the gunfight took place is surrounded by dense vegetation, concealing its view to any onlooker from the street. The backdrop to the deputies arriving on the scene that night, was one of an undeveloped vacant parcel of land.

There are a plethora of legitimate reasons as to why the deputies’ discretion caused him to approach the suspect’s vehicle upon it crashing.

Arm-chair quarterbacking, along with calling the play after the fact, will have their place during the debriefing process and investigation. Given the law; along with a detailed review of the conduct recorded via several videos, the deputies on the ground behaved with valor, restraint and purpose.

John Donnelly

Key Largo

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 November 20, 2015  Posted by at 12:58 am John Donnelly, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

  10 Responses to “Courage Under Fire–Key West Shootout…”

  1. Well done, my friend John, spoken like a battle-hardened US Marine Vietnam veteran, who has not yet, to my knowledge, come close to admitting in public, or to himself, that Vietnam was an evil war, waged for rubber trees and corporate profits, by the country you believed you were defending from communism, although years before you went over there, behind the scenes, the CIA was doing all it could to help Ho Chi Minh beat the French, so America could replace France enjoying the rubber trees and and other Vietnam natural resources. Then, when America wanted more from Ho than he was willing to give, he turned to the Russians, because he did not want to turn to the Chinese. Ho was not a communist, he was practical.

    Also well done, by someone who spends a great deal of time helping prison inmates pursue claims that they were wrongfully arrested and prosecuted, or didn’t have competent legal counsel, or are being abused by prison guards and wardens and other inmates. I’d love, John, for you to get onto Sheriff Ramsay about his jail serving the accused murderess April Thomas fresh fruits, green vegetables, meat and milk, because, even though she is not a practicing Jew and never attended synagogue, a rabbi she had known 16 years intervened for April with somebody in the Sheriff hierarchy in April’s behalf, for her to be fed food anybody needs for good physical, emotional and mental health, but such food is not served to Gentile or Christian or other kinds of inmates in the Sheriff’s jail.

    That’s a long lead, John, into and paralleling your long lead into the point of your diatribe defending the two deputies who shot it out with Timothy Thomas, instead of, as you well know, following well-established law enforcement guidelines, which are found in the Sheriff’s own training manual, as the blue paper learned and reported, for trying to apprehend and capture known, dangerous, perhaps armed felons.

    The first deputy, who got shot in his bulletproof vest by Thomas, totally ignored the well-established guidelines, which require staying in the deputy’s cruiser and using the loud speaker to order the suspect out of his vehicle, with hands up, or getting out of the cruiser and using it as a shield while ordering the suspect out of his vehicle, with hands up. At the same time calling for back up, and waiting for back up, before trying to engage the suspect any further. That you know of the well-established procedure and you say nothing about them, is deplorable, John.

    As is your claiming the deputies did not know a home was behind the bushes, with people there. That was a residential neighborhood, John. That home had lights on, and a security camera running, which showed people running for cover during the firefight.

    I hate to say it, John, but I bet you would make the same deplorable argument, if one or both deputies had been seriously wounded, or killed, by Thomas, and ditto if the deputies’ return fire had hit those innocent people.

    Just my opinion, John, you are way too close to, way too emotionally involved in guns, shooting guns, injuring and killing people, from your Marine days in Vietnam, to be a level, objective commentator on anything like the Thomas shootout with the two deputies. I think you identify yourself with the two deputies in the Thomas case, they took you back to Vietnam, where you were in many nasty firefights for a country you really were not defending, because it was the aggressor and its motives were awful.

    I suggest, John, you need a good bit of psychotherapy with a non-military psychologist or psychiatrist, who has his/her feet on the ground in issues such as have you in their firm grip. Such a therapist might be hard to find, however, in America. Alternatively, perhaps a minister or priest, with feet on the ground, could be your therapist and your confessor. Perhaps also hard to find in America.

    At your age, John, with your battle experiences, you should be a role model and voice for sanity, change and transformation. You should not be a defender of what is so forted up and entrenched and armed to the teeth, that it is kin to veterans who still defend the Vietnam and later American wars for profit.

  2. We need to reserve the use of deadly force for cases that can’t be handled any other way. A probation offence hardly requires such. Reckless use of a fire arm can not be tolerated. We seen what that almost caused a few weeks ago on stock island. Very poor judgement that placed many in danger.

  3. Sloan,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my article. The essence of my thrust is that by virtue of our Supreme Court, law-enforcement officers have enormous powers and wide reaching authority, when it comes to their discretionary conduct and actions. These discretionary powers and authority are applicable in every area of their professional lives; including the use of deadly force. This ‘Constitutional Endorsement’ trumps any and all training manuals.

    There will be plenty of time to review and grade each and every move made by the deputies up to and including the felony traffic stop. Now that the individual who shot the deputy is in custody, debriefing will bring additional learning, cognition and improvement to our law-enforcement community.

    Releasing violent felons into residential neighborhoods is not a good idea. Particularly, when said individuals haven’t shown any remorse for their crimes, as their criminal conduct immediately picks up where it left off. Neighbors, family and friends who keep silent while benefiting from an individual’s criminal behavior, have wreaked death and destruction on many communities.

    Firing a burst of bullets at and into a deputy, requires an immediate response, whether there is a house hidden behind some vegetation, or not.

    The inmates I’ve worked with, had to be reminded on occasion, that they were not at a girl scout or boy scout camp. The corrections officers were not their camp counselors.

    In most instances, they had done something that required them being locked up. For better or worse, they had placed themselves in jail/prison.

    As we have seen, there has been far too many instances of cruel and inhumane punishment inflicted upon men and women confined in our prison system, for no legal nor legitimate reason, whatsoever. Innocent inmates have been wrongfully accused, convicted, sentenced to death and executed; all in the name of justice.

    I was used by the God of my understanding to prevent an innocent man from being murdered. I did not want to do it. Nor, did I voluntarily initiate any intervention to stop this man from being killed. I told his mother: “Maybe he did what they said he did”.

    My refusal caused me to be blinded and knocked to the ground in my bathtub, while taking a shower. As I rose, I was filled with an awareness that this young man was innocent; and that it was up to me if I was going to do anything about it. Guidance, direction, power, strength, tactics, strategies and connections ensued thereafter, via the source of my being blinded and leveled, during the next 3 years.

    Great Men supported me. Men whom I’ve had disagreements with in the past, came to my aid and rescued this innocent man for me.
    Sloan, your plea to the Sheriff, along with the promptings of others, garnered an immediate response from him concerning the soy allergy. If my memory serves me well, it was determined that this was not the case.

    Receiving decent food in prison is a priority for many inmates. Many convert to Judaism, in the hope that, along with their search for God, they might restore their bodies to health via a more appropriate diet.

    I’ve provided ‘meditative instruction’ to an inmate isolated in solitary confinement at Florida State Prison, for offenses that he did not commit. He faced 3 life terms (no parole) for something he didn’t do. As the case against him unraveled, they contracted a hit on this man via another inmate suffering from hepatitis c, on the promise they would give the assassin medical treatment and commissary privileges.

    The inmates’ meditation practice saved his sanity, gave him hope and kept him whole. A free man now he does not use vulgarity, nor harbor any hate or resentment. He is happy, productive and successful.

    AA & NA Fellowships Work. I’ve witnessed all ‘manner of miracle’ take hold of the most violently disturbed criminals, suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction, as they were restored to a position of completeness. This is not fiction, nor a fairy tale.

    I’ve seen these fellowships renew an individual’s life while in prison and prepare them for successful living on the outside.

    Now as far as the military and wars, please stop giving your money to a president who kills innocent children and civilians via his attacks on hospitals. So many beautiful children and people have been horribly slaughtered, many as collateral damage, from his drone and other types of strikes.

    Civilians like this, who order our Armed Forces to invade sovereign nations and kill their people, do not need your money.

    • John, you did a good job of dodging. You should run for public office.

      I don’t give money to any president.

      I once contributed to Barac Obama’s first campaign, which I quickly realized was an angel ruse to get me deep into his psyche, as shortly thereafter I was told he had the potential to be the Anti-Christ, which news I published and did everything I could to persuade people not to vote for him, nor for John McCain.

      My psychotherapy recommendation for you, stands.

      Sheriff Ramsay has a bizarre problem in his jail surrounding April Thomason, who, being an escort and an exotic dancer, historically, has serious connections in high places, according to her good friend Mike Tolbert, who also is my good friend. To the extent, Mike told me, if April is prosecuted, high profile drug busts will occur in the Florida Keys. April is getting preferential treatment in the jail, as I have reported. I got report last night of further preferential treatment of April, which I will not detail. I can’t help but wonder what April has on people with power in the Keys, that she is treated better in the jail than other inmates?

      No, the Sheriff did not jump right on the soy allergy Kari had long before she went into the jail, again. It took me pounding the jail’s doctor for Kari’s blood to be taken and sent to a lab, the results of such test the jail infirmary refused to show to Kari, while telling her the test came back negative for soy allergy. I had told Sheriff Ramsay, just feed Kary hamburger instead of soy meat substitute, and see if that does’t fix her massive digestive and skin problems, still torturing her. Such a simple experiment, but too much trouble for the jail.

      But not too much trouble for the jail to feed April Thomason food any human being needs to be healthy, which good is not being fed to other inmates in the jail, unless they, too, claim to be Jewish.

      Find a good psychotherapist, John, if there is one, who will not enable your mental and emotional programming.

  4. JIMINKEYWEST,

    Always good to hear from you. Thanks for your comments.

    I would think recklessly killing another human being is a crime, under any and all circumstances.

    It appears that our Supreme Court has given extensive powers and leeway to police officers, when determining if said officers have exceeded their authority and committed a crime, when they use deadly force in the performance of their duties.

    Certainly, the case mentioned in my article would give pause to the notion that all citizens are held to the same legal standard.

    Law-enforcement officers are called upon to do a very difficult and dangerous job; however, strong leadership, proper recruitment and training are a must; so that the “protect and serve” clause of their job description is not forgotten.

    One must not forget that this ruling by the Supreme Court is Constitutional and the Law of the Land.

  5. Is it COURAGE or stupidity when a cop places himself in the line of fire that then forces a shoot out with no regard to the safety of other people.
    Just what will it take to train them to handle cases in a safe method. Was this the only way to make this arrest ? I see it as a total screw up and to top it off Thomas got away. I understand the cop had to think fast and sadly he made a poor choice that dam near got him killed. But lets praise him for his stupidity. Had he got killed it would een his fault for doing everything wrong. What he should have done was blocked that mustang in and waited for backup and chances are high never been the first shot fired.

    Do we really want the sheriffs department taking over KW ?

  6. What would have happened in the Thomas shootout with the two deputies if the homeowner would have shot back at the deputies with a licensed gun, After all the deputies were firing bullets at them also, unintentionally or not. That could easily happen and will one of these days. Would the homeowner be prosecuted? Law enforcement officers don’t seem to have to worry much about collateral damaged but sooner or later we all must think of that.

    BTW, there are many other jobs that are more dangerous than being a cop.

  7. Bozewell,

    Thank you for reading and taking the time to respond. I always read your comments with great interest and attention. I value and respect your thoughtful contributions.

    Before we get to the shootout, where do you stand concerning high speed police chases? These vehicles are projectiles capable of causing violent deaths and destruction to innocent children and civilians.

    It gives one pause, as to when, where and under what conditions these types of chases are appropriate and justified.

    Concerning your aforementioned comment, I believe an American citizen is legally entitled to defend themselves from eminent deadly force. Wise and prudent decisions made by said homeowner, under the circumstances, would be reviewed in determining the justification of their firing back at deputies.

    You are correct, as indicated in the article and as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court, law-enforcement officers, like it or not, have extraordinary powers when it comes to the use of their discretion and deadly force, when it occurs during the performance of their duties.

    When the suspect fired a burst of bullets from his weapon, knocking the deputy down from a bullet striking him in the chest, this deputy, just like your hypothetical homeowner, had the right to protect his life and fire back. As the investigation of this incident proceeds, it will be determined if the wise and prudent decisions of this deputy were justified.

    Assessing the degree of danger per job, vocation and profession is beyond my pay grade.

    Again, I sincerely thank you. I appreciate and have learned much from your insights and perspectives.

    Happy Thanksgiving…

    –Blessings & Respect

  8. John,

    Thanks so much for your willingness to talk about this and other difficult subject matter that comes up in our community.

    You wrote:

    “Conservation of one’s resources requires, for the most part, that we reserve our outrage and energies for an authentic opponent. An individual who has actually violated the law.

    The house where the gunfight took place is surrounded by dense vegetation, concealing its view to any onlooker from the street. The backdrop to the deputies arriving on the scene that night, was one of an undeveloped vacant parcel of land.

    There are a plethora of legitimate reasons as to why the deputies’ discretion caused him to approach the suspect’s vehicle upon it crashing.

    Arm-chair quarterbacking, along with calling the play after the fact, will have their place during the debriefing process and investigation. Given the law; along with a detailed review of the conduct recorded via several videos, the deputies on the ground behaved with valor, restraint and purpose.”
    ~~~~~~~~~

    I’m understanding from your words that you feel that our coverage of the Shootout was unnecessary, that the Supreme Court gives officers great latitude such that clearly this officer did not break the law and that the methods used by the deputy to attempt to apprehend Thomas that night were beyond reproach and should not be scrutinized by anyone other than the Sheriff’s Department and the FDLE via their respective investigations.

    Let me first say that the Deputy was a hero. He put his life on the line to apprehend a suspect – he nearly died doing it. But, should we be encouraging young officers to take such risks – risking their own lives and the lives of innocent bystanders in situations where it may not be absolutely necessary?

    The question as to whether the deputy’s use of lethal force that night might be unconstitutional has never been raised. Of course the deputy needed to return fire after the suspect shot him. That is not the discussion that the Stock Island shootout should inspire in thoughtful people.

    However, if I’m not mistaken, we continue to be the ONLY local paper that has let readers know that a family was having a birthday party behind those bushes during the shootout and that they could have easily been shot, and that standard police training, not to mention Monroe County Sheriff’s own written policies, require an officer to remain under cover and await back-up in situations such as the one facing the first deputy that night [absent exceptional circumstances].

    An honest discussion of the shootout should be about policies, best practices, proper training, and public safety. No one has accused the Deputy of excessive force. However, many persons, including members of the family who nearly were killed, have questioned the method used to attempt to apprehend this suspect – who was known to be armed and dangerous – because the deputy and innocent bystanders could have easily died.

    In my opinion, this is absolutely a legitimate topic for discussion BY THE PUBLIC who could find themselves in the same situation some day – although perhaps not so lucky. Also, is it a good idea to send out a message to young, perhaps impressionable, police officers that we expect them to take such risks when it’s not absolutely necessary?

    So the question is: were there exceptional circumstances that required the deputy to abandon standard safety protocol [meant to protect both the officer and the public] and place himself in the open in front of the armed suspect who then shot him in the chest?

    We spent an hour and a half with the Sheriff the day before we published our piece showing how police are trained to make Felony Traffic Stops. When we asked him why the Deputy broke with protocol, the Sheriff did not come up with “a plethora of legitimate reasons.” His only guess was that perhaps the Deputy had placed his car in a position behind the suspect’s car that did not give him a good line of sight on the suspect and for that reason he may have moved away from the cover of his vehicle to face the suspect in the open. [FYI: Patrol car placement in relation to suspect vehicle is also a component of the training given officers for Felony Traffic Stops.]

    Law enforcement personnel [like teachers, Judges, and elected officials] are work for the public. There is no reason why the public should refrain from talking about how they conduct themselves. There is no reason why the media or the public should refrain from talking about policies and training issues regarding police officers – especially when an incident occurs where innocent residents end up in the line of fire. After all, law enforcement officers are the only people on the list above that – as you point out – are licensed to use lethal [or less lethal] force. Of course, their actions should be openly scrutinized – and of course we should’t leave it to the agency itself or the FDLE to do so.

  9. Dear Blue Paper Editor,

    I do not believe your coverage of the Shootout was unnecessary.

    I do not believe anyone’s conduct is beyond reproach, when it involves the use of deadly force.

    As you know, without your courageous, detailed and thorough investigation of Mr. Eimers’ killing, most, if not all of the more serious facts of his death, would not have been uncovered.

    You know where I weighed in on that matter.

    I believe during subsequent debriefings and evaluations, a complete review will take place, regarding the conduct of all deputies. Let’s wait till we get there, before casting judgement.

    I want an honest, open and transparent discussion of polices, best practices, training and the such; during a chase, crash, and traffic stop.

    Given some of my thoughts during the chase video, I have a plethora of reasons, as to why my discretion might cause me to depart from a training film video.

    I believe our Supreme Court lends favor to the discretion of police officers, because to the onlooker, safely removed from the event in time and space, they (the court) reserves the right for discretionary use of judgement; to the law-enforcement officer.

    My continued words of encouragement, respect and support of you and your extraordinary paper have not been made without purpose and intent. I’ve said what I meant, and mean what I say.

    Love, Blessings & Respect To You & The Family; As well as to all “The Blue Paper” Faithful…

    Happy Thanksgiving….

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