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Case Against Cliven Bundy, Sons Ammon and Ryan, Dismissed Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct

Case Dismissed Against Cliven Bundy Sons Prosecutor Misconduct

Multiple felony charges against Cliven Bundy, his sons; Ammon and Ryan, and Ryan Payne have been dismissed by a federal judge in Las Vegas, due to prosecutorial misconduct.

Earlier today (January 8th, 2017), a federal judge in Las Vegas threw out multiple felony charges against Cliven Bundy, his sons; Ammon and Ryan, and Ryan Payne due to prosecutorial misconduct during and prior to two previous trials, which had previously ended in mistrials (the first as a result of a hung jury).

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U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that the charges cannot be refiled by prosecutors. The Bundys and Payne were all four facing felony charges of threatening a federal officer, carrying and using a firearm and engaging in conspiracy and potentially decades in prison. Those charges resulted from the “Bunkerville Standoff” against the Bureau of Land Management and other members of federal and local law enforcement back in 2014.

Judge Navarro ruled that the Federal Government had violated disclosure requirements by withholding evidence that could be beneficial to the Bundys’ defense. Under the Brady Rule, prosecutors are required to provide any such information to defendants. As a result Navarro declared that “the court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated” and therefore a fair trial could not be conducted.

Via the Los Angeles Times:

Despite the mistrial, federal prosecutors argued in a legal brief filed Dec. 29 that they didn’t willfully withhold evidence from the defense and they still planned to press ahead with another trial.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Steven Myhre wrote in his brief that the government shared 1.5 terabytes of information and noted it was “by far, the largest review and disclosure operation in this [U.S. attorney’s office] history.”

Myrhe also argued the government needed to protect some witnesses from leaks that might lead to threats, so it “culled the database with witness protection in mind.”

“Unprecedented database volume and witness concerns aside, the government never let these obstacles stand in the way of diligently working to fulfill its discovery obligations,” he wrote.

But defense lawyers for Payne — Renee Valadares, Brenda Weksler and Ryan Norwood — argued in their Dec. 29 briefing seeking to dismiss the case that government “failed to accept responsibility for any of its failure to disclose evidence” and the withholding of evidence was “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct.”

“The government’s irresponsible and, at times, false proffers to this Court as well as its dismissiveness toward the defense inspires no confidence in the prospect of fairness,” they wrote. “A dismissal is necessary to remedy the constitutional violations, to preserve the integrity of this court’s processes, and to deter future misconduct. Anything short of a dismissal is tantamount to condoning the government’s behavior in this case.”

In October 2016, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with five others, were all acquitted by a federal jury of charges relating to the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

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Update: Second Mistrial Declared; Cincinnati Cop Ray Tensing Gets Away With Murder of Sam Dubose

For the second time, a jury has stated that it was deadlocked and unable to reach a decision on charges filed against University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing for the July 2015 murder of Sam Dubose. (See videos embedded below for body camera footage of that murder.) The jury initially indicated this morning that it was unable to reach a decision, but were told to go back and continue deliberating. Later this afternoon they returned and stated they were still deadlocked. As a result, Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz has declared a mistrial.

Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, there won’t be a third trial. So that effectively means Tensing has officially joined the ever expanding club of police officers who have gotten away with murder, including three just this week alone (Tensing, Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, and St. Paul Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez).

Of course, in order to have their killings declared justified all police officers need to do is state that they “feared for my life” and in order to get a mistrial they just need one of the twelve members of a jury to buy that rationalization. So that bar is incredibly low and that’s mostly by design. The system itself is tilted heavily in their favor and those running that system not only are their friends and co-workers, but have the further incentive of self preservation to push it even further in that direction.

In Tensing’s case, he claimed that he was in danger of being run over by Dubose as he attempted to drive away from a traffic stop the University of Cincinnati police officer had initiated because of a missing front license plate.

Via NBC News:

Tensing asked DuBose for his driver’s license and registration, which he failed to provide. The officer then ordered him to step out of his car and tried to open the door, but DuBose refused. The car began to pull away

With one hand still inside the car, Tensing yelled, “Stop! Stop!” before firing his gun at DuBose, striking him in the head. The car then began traveling out of control before coming to a stop.

Tensing’s bodycam captured the incident.

The men had a conversation for about one minute and 50 seconds before it escalated with Tensing and DuBose in a struggle. Within just a few seconds, Tensing fired his gun.

Two other officers were on scene, and their body cameras captured other angles of the shooting’s aftermath.

Those alternate angles captured by the other officers on the scene, as well as testimony from experts who examined those videos, contradicted Tensing’s claims that he was being dragged by, and in danger of being run over by, Dubose’s car.

It’s also been questioned whether the stop for something as trivial as a front license plate was merely an excuse used to justify a racially motivated profiling of Dubose. Officer Tensing’s unusually frequent history of traffic stops (when compared to other University of Cincinnati police officers) and the high percentage of minorities involved in those stops bolsters those claims.

Of course, the judges, prosecutors, and media are usually on the side of the cops and the general public is taught from the day they are born to believe cops are heroes that never lie or do anything bad. So it’s not that hard for them to at least find that one juror who will refuse to find a cop guilty, regardless of the actual facts presented during a trial. That’s a big part of why it’s almost impossible to convict a police officer regardless of the actual facts on the rare occasions when they get caught doing something outrageous enough to get charged in the first place.

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Update: Looks Like Michael Slager Found That One Cop Apologist He Needed; Mistrial Pending

Yesterday, I posted about the fact that the murder trial of Officer Michael Slager had been turned over to the jury for deliberation on a verdict. Within that post, I discussed whether Slager would get away with the murder altogether or be given a light sentence via the lesser manslaughter charge.

My bet has been on him walking free via a hung jury, since in order to do so he only needs to have one of the 12 jurors be a cop apologist that refuses to find him guilty. The chances of that happening, regardless of his actual guilt are pretty good and history has born that out in previous trials of police.

Earlier this afternoon, the first signs that he has hit that (rigged) lottery began to be reported. One singular juror has indicated that he is unwilling to convict Slager in spite of the video that very clearly depicts him shooting Walter Scott in the back five times as he runs away from the North Charleston Police Officer.

Via NBCnews.com (emphasis added):

A lone juror said they cannot convict a white former police officer who fatally shot a black man in South Carolina, and the judge asked for clarification from the foreperson as to whether the jury is hopelessly deadlocked.

The juror in a letter to the court said “I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict” against Michael Slager, a former patrolman who pulled over Walter Scott in North Charleston, and ended up shooting him as a bystander recorded the incident on video.

The jury foreperson said in a separate note to the court that it was only one juror who was “having issues,” Circuit Judge Clifton Newman said. The juror opposed to conviction said in the letter, “I cannot and will not change my mind,” Newman said.

Slager was charged with murder in Scott’s killing, although the jury was allowed to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter in addition to murder. Slager’s attorneys requested a mistrial.

The wording is interesting in the two highlighted statements. Note that he doesn’t say, “I don’t believe he is guilty” or “I can’t be convinced of his guilt.” In essence, he says, “I refuse to find him guilty.” And that’s the reality of the situation (and the many, many situations that preceded it). It’s not that they don’t understand they are guilty, they just refuse to render that verdict.

They’ll likely go through the motions for a bit longer before that request for a mistrial is granted. They may even decide to stage another trial to stave off the inevitable riots and protests for a while longer. However, they can only kick that can down the road so far. Michael Slager will walk and he’ll do it with a smirk on his face while discussing in interviews how difficult all of this was for him. Then he’ll file for back-pay and/or reinstatement to the police force through his union. And he’ll win since he wasn’t convicted.

NBC Video: The Jury Says It’s Deadlocked

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Will Michael Slager Get Away With Murder Altogether or Just Get a Slap on the Wrist?

Currently, the jury is in its second day of deliberations (as of December 1st) in the murder trial of Michael Slager. Typically, logic would dictate that someone who was caught on video in broad daylight shooting an unarmed person in the back as they ran away from them would be a pretty easy case for a jury to decide. It’s hard to come up with a scenario where murder is more obvious of a description than that. Even the judge in the case initially (and correctly) described Slager as “an unreasonable danger to the community.”

However, it’s neither unlikely, nor even an unusual idea that the exact opposite will happen at some point in the next few days or so. When Officer Slager murdered Walter Scott, then attempted to plant a taser next to his body to justify those five shots in the back, he was wearing a Magical Uniform that renders those who wear it impervious to meaningful consequences for their actions, up to and including outright murder. One of the obvious examples of that is the simple fact that Slager would have never been charged with any crime whatsoever if not for the fact that a random witness decided to start recording that day.

The fact that Scott was shot five times from behind would have been completely ignored and Slager’s story would have been the one put out publicly by the North Charleston police. We know that because for the two days before the video of the shooting recorded by Feidin Santana surfaced that narrative was already well on its way to being constructed and Slager was poised to become the 210th South Carolina cop to shoot someone without a single one being convicted. In fact, even within the first seconds of murdering Scott, Officer Slager was already feigning the effects of a frenzied struggle while walking calmly toward his body in order to sell his cover story. The fact that it took two days for Santana to overcome his fear of retaliation and produce that video is a statement about where the Good Cops working with Slager (and other Killer Cops) usually stand when one of their own is accused of violence.

Fortunately, he did the right thing and produced the video, which is why everyone on this planet and several others knows that Michael Slager is a murderer. The question for at least the next couple days though is which planet is the jury on? It’s been well documented that juries are more likely to believe testimony from police and also have a tendency to blame the victim out of sympathy toward their perceived good nature. Even in cases where guilt is obvious, the constant drumbeat of propaganda about the saintly police the general public is subject to from the day they are born tends to sway judgement. It’s not a coincidence that cops are more likely to testify in their own defense when on trial even though that is generally seen as a horrible and desperate idea for everyone else. It also doesn’t hurt (them) that the prosecutors often throw the case and do a halfhearted effort when presenting evidence/questioning witnesses.

Personally, my money is on a hung jury. Finding at least one Cop Lover willing to look the other way out of the twelve members of the jury is a good bet. It also gives the prosecutors the bonus option of pushing things into the lap of the Feds, who have already announced that they too will be putting Slager on trial. Although, as obvious as Slager’s guilt is on that video I think the odds are pretty close that they will be able to come together on a compromise of a manslaughter conviction and give the judge the chance to give him a firm slap on the wrist consisting mostly of probation with the possibility of a light prison sentence to head off the public outcry. I don’t for a second see him being convicted of the actual crime of murder that he committed that day or getting anything close to what a typical citizen would.

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