Sunday, July 14, 2013
Perry Mason it wasn't
For 18 years I served on my city's Civil Service Commission overseeing the police and fire departments. In the event of a dispute between a police officer or firefighter and their chief, we heard the issues and rendered a decision. These disputes usually involved hiring, firing, discipline, and promotions.
I remember one instance when the Police Chief "indefinitely suspended" (fired) an officer, and the officer felt this was an unfair and excessive punishment. We heard the case and agreed, giving him some time off without pay, but allowed him to keep his job.
I later heard the Police Chief was furious with us for our decision. The city's Director of Civil Service calmed him down by telling him that regardless of what the Chief knew to be the facts, the City Attorney on that day, in that hearing, did NOT prove the city's case, and therefore our decision was correct.
This sounds like what might have happened in the George Zimmerman case in Florida, too. Zimmerman was, IMO, an idiot. He should never have been armed while on citizen patrol (a huge no-no) and he should never have confronted Trayvon Martin. He should have made the call and waited. Shoulda, woulda....
Nevertheless, during the course of the trial the state did NOT prove their case. Too much of their crucial testimony was refuted by credible defense witnesses. Based on the evidence presented there was not "proof beyond a reasonable doubt", regardless of what really might have happened that night.
I think this is probably why the local police chief and DA didn't charge Zimmerman immediately....they didn't have enough evidence to go to court with. This is what happens when popular opinion instead of solid evidence moves prosecution forward.
I hope cool heads prevail and the city stays calm after the "not guilty" decision. The thoughtful jurors did their job. The system worked.