THE FACTS, THE EVIDENCE, AND THE LAW
Every time something controversial happens, like The Ferguson Missouri Shooting or the Black Pistons MC /Iron Order MC incident in Florida, The Keyboard Rangers, fueled by the irresponsible press, come to conclusions and have a media based trial including; verdict and punishment, recommendations and all in one miraculous day. Who needs a Justice System?
A responsible and thorough investigation takes time. Witnesses and all known involved parties must be identified and interviewed. Evidence including physical, documentary, and circumstantial evidence must be gathered, vetted, and evaluated. The goal of the investigation is to answer all of the Who, What, Where, How, and Why questions as completely as possible. A competent investigator knows all of his/her conclusions will be reviewed by others and will likely face the challenges of the prosecution, defense, and the judicial process, not to mention the press.
The FACTS include only that which can be reasonably proven or supported by EVIDENCE. Because it is impossible to read anyone’s mind. Our LAW allows for certain inferences to be drawn from circumstances in the absence of hard EVIDENCE.
The FACTS found by investigation, supported by EVIDENCE are then evaluated to determine if any violation of LAW has occurred. If so, the question becomes, who is responsible? and Is prosecution possible and/or appropriate?
EVIDENCE is defined as: Anything that is tangible and tends to support a finding of fact or particular conclusion. In a criminal investigation EVIDENCE is sought which would prove the elements of a crime, or identify and associate a particular suspect with criminal behavior.
The law is the statutes which prohibit or require certain behaviors and carry a specified punishment for any offender found to be guilty of the prescribed behavior. The LAW is made of statutes that define crimes. Each crime is broken down into specific elements that must be proven to sustain a finding of guilty by a Trier-of Fact.
Example: To prove the crime of MURDER the prosecution must prove that the accused:
Committed an unlawful killing
Of a human being
With malice aforethought or premeditation.
THE DECISION TO PROSECUTE (or not)
The decision on whether or not to prosecute a person who has committed a killing is based on a full review of all known FACTS, any and all EVIDENCE which has been discovered, and the LAW as it applies in the State where the incident occurred.
A prosecutor (District Attorney or Federal Prosecutor) or a Grand Jury will be given full access to all known investigative work product such as witness, suspect, and victim statements, forensic evidence, and factual conclusions. A decision is made to charge the subject if the evidence warrants it. If there is insufficient evidence to convict or if the evidence tends to prove innocence, no charges will be filed and no prosecution will occur.
In both the Ferguson and the Jacksonville cases the concept of self-defense became the key element in this decision. In Ferguson, Michael Brown was found to be the aggressor, Officer Wilson was found to have a legitimate fear for his life based on MIchael Brown’s actions. Officer Wilson’s use of deadly force was found to be within Police Dept. policy and Missouri State Law.
In the Jacksonville Florida incident, Iron Order MC Prospect Kristopher Stone was found to have acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Black Pistons MC member Zachariah Tipton. Stone’s use of deadly force was deemed lawful and appropriate based on evidence (Video, documentary, witness statements, and forensics) that he was ambushed by Tipton and his Black Pistons associates. Stone was found to have acted within Florida law in the carrying and use of his handgun in this situation. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is well known due to other high profile cases like the George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin.
In both cases the decision not to prosecute Wilson and Stone came months after the incidents occurred. The time between the incidents and decision was used to do the investigations to determine the FACTS, gather and evaluate the EVIDENCE, examine the LAW to determine the effect on the accused persons.
This is the way our system of justice is supposed to work. I’ll be the first to admit our justice system is far from perfect. When politics gets in the way, it can seem nonsensical and unjust. We don’t substitute bad press and uninformed public opinion for factual finding, reasonable conclusion, and application of the rule of law. The keyboard magpies calling for summary execution, prosecution for unprovable charges, and vengeance for their anger didn’t get their way this time. The loud mouths proclaiming their own facts and demanding their own brand of justice come away looking like the fools that they are.
For those Ferguson protesters who shout about the social injustice of it all; Keep Shouting, it’s your right. For those who use this as an excuse to riot, burn and destroy the property of innocents. You will face the wrath of justice when the FACTS, the EVIDENCE and the LAW are brought to bear on YOU.
For those supporters of the Black Pistons. The rule of law prevailed here. Tipton was killed by the guy he and his cohorts conspired to ambush and beat for no other reason than he was wearing the wrong patch and in the wrong place at the wrong time. A bad mistake with a very high price.
WE, in the law abiding motorcycle club world, choose the rule of law over outlaw codes because we believe it is the best way to co-exist.