Equal Protection Under the Law?
The 14 Amendment of the United States Constitution provides for equal protection under the law. Specifically, the first paragraph of that amendment says:
Section 1.This amendment came to mind when reading two news articles this weekend.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
First from Chicago we have this story:
Erick Lagunas' family came to court Friday morning clinging to the slimmest of hopes.
But their 2½-year quest for justice ended in bitter tears, as the Chicago Police officer they say killed Lagunas and his friend, Miguel Flores, in a Thanksgiving Day 2007 drunken-driving crash walked out of the 26th and California courthouse a free man.
Prosecutors made two attempts to prove that Ardelean did. After the two-vehicle fatal crash Nov. 22 in Roscoe Village, Ardelean was charged with misdemeanor DUI -- later upgraded to a felony. But those charges were dismissed when Cook County Judge Don Panarese ruled there was "no indication" Ardelean, who was off-duty at the time, was drunk. Prosecutors reinstated charges after saying they had a lengthy surveillance videotape showing Ardelean drinking five shots and other drinks at a North Side bar shortly before the crash.
Prosecutors also suggested in pretrial hearings that police the night of the crash turned a blind eye to Ardelean's intoxication. Among other things, he wasn't arrested or given a Breathalyzer until seven hours after the crash. But Gainer ruled in April that the supervising officer who ultimately made the arrest didn't have strong enough evidence to do so. Gainer's ruling also suppressed key blood-alcohol evidence.
Then from Maryland we get this example:
Tyrone Brown, a 32-year-old former Marine from East Baltimore, was out with his sister and her friend enjoying the Mount Vernon club scene early Saturday when he may have taken one of his trademark jokes too far. Glancing at a woman in an alley off East Eager Street, he put his hands on her behind.Mind you, no doubt Brown was in the wrong. You should not touch the backside of a woman you don't know. However, that rates a push or a punch not a shooting. My real concern here is how the murderer is being treated/handled differently than a murderer without a badge. That was an execution and the officer is not in jail. Anyone else would have been immediately locked up and good luck on making bail anytime soon.
Police said the woman's companion, an off-duty Baltimore police officer, got into an argument and physical confrontation with Brown after they left the club Eden's Lounge. His sister said there was no fight, and that her brother apologized and tried to walk away. What happened next is not in dispute — the officer pulled out his department-issued Glock handgun and fired at the unarmed Brown 13 times from just a few feet away.
Brown, struck at 1:30 a.m. by six bullets in the chest and groin, fell to the pavement and died 45 minutes later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. The shooting by Gahiji A. Tshamba, a 15-year veteran of the city police force, has left his commanders publicly questioning whether the Eastern District patrol officer legitimately thought his life was in danger before firing.
I am a supporter of law enforcement and acknowledge that police officers have a tough job. I accept that professional courtesy will result in police cutting fellow officers some slack just as a McDonalds' employee probably doesn't pay for some nuggets. This far exceeds the bounds of acceptable slack. Professional courtesy should go no further than letting a guy off with a warning for speeding after he flashes his badge.
Labels: Equal Protection Clause