Tag Archives: sexual assault

LA Supreme Court: It’s Reasonable to Believe “Give Me a Lawyer Dog” was Request for a Dog Who is a Lawyer

Lawyer Dog Louisiana Supreme Court Canine Attorney

Lawyer Dog should really ask Grumpy Judge to recuse herself. #JusSayin

Recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on a motion to suppress evidence against Warren Demesme, who is currently awaiting trial in New Orleans. By a 6-1 majority the court denied that motion, which maintained that statements Demesme had made should be thrown because the police had ignored his request for legal counsel during interrogations.

What’s gotten a lot of attention (and rightfully so) since that ruling is the courts’ contention that Demesme’s request was ambiguous and unclear. But even more so for the reasoning behind the ruling. Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly argued in his response to the motion that Demesme’s statement, “just give me a lawyer dog,” could be misinterpreted by a “reasonable officer” based on the use of the words “lawyer dog.”

In a brief accompanying the decision, Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton agreed that the defendant’s use of “lawyer dog” could be misconstrued to mean something else and therefore did not qualify as a request for counsel.

Via the Washington Post:

Warren Demesme, then 22, was being interrogated by New Orleans police in October 2015 after two young girls claimed he had sexually assaulted them. It was the second time he’d been brought in, and he was getting a little frustrated, court records show. He had repeatedly denied the crime. Finally, Demesme told the detectives:

“This is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog ’cause this is not what’s up.” The punctuation, arguably critical to Demesme’s use of the sobriquet “dog,” was provided by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office in a brief, and then adopted by Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton.

Demesme subsequently made admissions to the crime, prosecutors said, and was charged with aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile. He is being held in the Orleans Parish jail awaiting trial.

The public defender for Orleans Parish, Derwyn D. Bunton, took on Demesme’s case and filed a motion to suppress Demesme’s statement. In a court brief, Bunton noted that police are legally bound to stop questioning anyone who asks for a lawyer. “Under increased interrogation pressure,” Bunton wrote, “Mr. Demesme invokes his right to an attorney, stating with emotion and frustration, ‘Just give me a lawyer.’” The police did not stop their questioning, Bunton argued, “when Mr. Demesme unequivocally and unambiguously asserted his right to counsel.”

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly responded in his brief that Demesme’s “reference to a lawyer did not constitute an unambiguous invocation of his right to counsel, because the defendant communicated that whether he actually wanted a lawyer was dependent on the subjective beliefs of the officers.” Daly added, “A reasonable officer under the circumstances would have understood, as [the detectives] did, that the defendant only might be invoking his right to counsel.”

Bunton’s motion to throw out Demesme’s statement was rejected by the trial court and the appeals court, so he took it to the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in a ruling issued last Friday and first reported by Reason, could have denied the appeal without issuing a written ruling, which it does in most cases. But Justice Crichton decided to write a brief concurrence “to spotlight the very important constitutional issue regarding the invocation of counsel during a law enforcement interview.”

Crichton noted that Louisiana case law has ruled that “if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal . . . the cessation of questioning is not required.” Crichton then concluded: “In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview.”

So…

There’s a lot of things wrong with that decision. The most obvious issue is that they didn’t actually provide him with a dog who is a lawyer, as they claim they thought he had requested. It’s probably not the wisest move to request a dog to represent you in court, but if he’s a good boy and graduated from an accredited law school, who am I to cast aspersions?

Of course, that’s kind of the biggest problem with the “logic” of this ruling. They couldn’t give him a “lawyer dog” because, outside of memes on the internets, it’s not an actual thing. At this point in history, not one single dog has ever managed to pass the bar exam. Not Lassie, not Rin Tin Tin, not Benji, not even Snoopy. Scooby Doo is way to high to even think about taking the SAT’s, let alone the LSAT’s, and don’t even get me started on Marmaduke.

If any dog could have pulled it off, it obviously would have been Brian Griffin, but he died tragically after eating chocolate out of the garbage years ago. So, he’s not available right now.

What it boils down to is, if somebody asks for legal council, as is their constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment, you shouldn’t just be able to pretend you didn’t understand them because they used some (not uncommon) slang. In fact, if for some reason they ask for a “lawyer dog,” but there aren’t any available (or willing to work pro bone-o), then you give them a lawyer human instead.

It’s hard to have a lot of faith in the U.S. Injustice System, especially after rulings like this (not to mention all the coerced confessions and false convictions they allow for). However, you would hope that some sense of common decency and shame would compel the next appeals court this goes in front of to render a proper ruling on this nonsense.

I have a suspicion this might be a big part of the reason why the State of Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

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Update: Two Years Later the TSA is STILL Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

Transportation Security Administration TSA Failed 95 Percent

Once again, TSA inspectors have failed to find 95% of the mock weapons sent through checkpoints by Homeland Security agents working undercover.

Just over two years ago, in June of 2015, I posted about tests Homeland Security had run at airports across the country. In those tests, undercover agents were sent through pre-boarding checkpoints run by the Transportation Security Administration. (Video from that original post is embedded below.)

Those agents carried realistic looking weapons and explosive devices past TSA screeners in order to determine how often the “weapons” would be detected. This included replicas of pistols, knives, nunchucks, tasers, ammunition, and even defused hand grenades.

Out of 70 items that should have been stopped, TSA screeners found a grand total of three of them. As I noted, at the time that translates to a failure rate of 95%. Not exactly a number that will make you feel happy as you stand in the giant line at the security checkpoint next time you fly somewhere.

Surely they’ve addressed those issues in those 2+ years and improved dramatically, though. After all, you could seemingly stumble into a higher level of success just by randomly guessing which passengers have some sort of contraband in their luggage. Right?

Not so much, according to the Washington Times:

Undercover federal agents successfully snuck drugs and explosives past security screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week, according to the local Fox affiliate.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted the test last Thursday by sending agents disguised as ordinary passengers into the airport in order to see if screeners were up to snuff, KMSP reported.

The TSA “red team” attempted to smuggle 18 different items past airport security that should easily be detected but prevailed almost every time, the Fox affiliate reported.

“In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items through. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected,” KMSP reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the operation.
In fact, it could have even been worse this time:

The security test was ultimately abandoned once the TSA’s failure rate reached 95 percent, the station reported.

So, before the Mercy Rule was invoked, the TSA screeners in Minneapolis had successfully found a weapon being smuggled onto a plane once. Which, like 2015, equates to just five percent of the time.

Basically, when you eliminate groping people; especially underage passengers, taking lewd photos of unsuspecting women, and stealing shit out of your luggage, they just aren’t very proficient at what they do. (To be fair, they do seem to be pretty good at finding spare change passengers being subjected to their ineffectual security theater leave behind.)

Truth be told, they actually couldn’t be much less useful (and would be quite a bit less annoying and exploitative) if they just slept through their shift, like the guy in the picture at the top of this post.

Minneapolis – St. Paul TSA Screeners Fail Yet Again

Successful Five Percent of the Time in 2015

Groping People to Keep You Safe Almost Never

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Update: RCMP Officer Convicted of Abuse and Sexual Torture of Son Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

RCMP Child Abuse Ottawa Royal Canadian Mounted Police

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer convicted of starving, beating, and sexually abusing his son has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In December of last year, I posted about a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer who had been convicted of numerous abuse-related offenses after his son escaped from a makeshift dungeon he had created in the basement of his house. On Wednesday, that officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the torture he had infilcted against his son. Critics, including a group known as “Bikers Against Child Abuse,” complained that the sentence, which likely will amount to eight years at the most, was insufficient in light of the severity and nature of the crimes involved.

At the time of his arrest in 2013, that son was described as looking like “someone from a concentration camp movie.” Despite being eleven years old at the time, he weighed just 50 pounds and had scars on his body, including those consistent with someone who had been shackled at the wrists and ankles for an extended period of time. In addition to being starved, chained up, and physically abused, the child was also sexually tortured by having his genitals burned with a lighter. Ironically, the officer worked for the RCMP’s counter-terrorism unit.

After escaping from the basement where he had been confined, the officer’s son was spotted in nearby houses attempting to get water from the faucets within the yards. When one neighbor attempted to take him home, he collapsed from the effects of malnourishment. Ottawa Police Det. Johanne Marelic and other investigators described his condition when they first saw him as “unfathomable” and “difficult to comprehend.”

During court, the officer apologized for “being a monster” to his son and attributed his actions to PTSD resulting from having been abused himself. Although Justice Robert Maranger described the charges as “horrific” and the “worst kind of abuse” while stating that he didn’t believed the officer had shown any true remorse, he nonetheless indicated that he avoided giving him a much harsher sentence (prosecutors were seeking 23 years) due to the testimony from expert witnesses about his mental state and the contention that the abuse was caused by PTSD.

The officer was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, one each of sexual assault causing bodily harm, unlawful confinement, assault and failing to provide the necessaries of life, plus several firearms offenses. In addition, the officer’s wife (and the prototypical evil stepmother of the child) was also convicted of assault with a weapon and failing to provide the necessaries of life, but received a sentence of just three years. The names of the officer and his wife have not been released publicly per a court order to avoid identifying the child who was victimized by them.

Local News Coverage

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Washington Cop Sentenced to Just One Year of Probation for Sexual Assault After “Out of Control” Argument

Officer Travis Disney of the Wapato Police Department has been sentenced to “time served,” plus one year of probation for sexually assaulting a woman. (According to a different account, that woman was his wife) Disney had attacked the woman after an argument reportedly “got out of control.” He pled guilty to third degree rape after originally being charged with second degree rape and false imprisonment.

That time he supposedly served amounts to the eight and a half months he spent awaiting trial. At best, it’s a technicality. He was released without bail, but forced to wear a electronic monitoring anklet to ensure he didn’t get within 250 feet of his victim’s house. So, that means his “confinement” consisted of essentially having a restraining order filed against him and not being able to go within a short distance of her house.

Via the Yakima Herald:

Yakima County sheriff’s deputies went to the home around 9 a.m. after a 911 call was received. No one was speaking into the phone, but dispatcher reported hearing a man in the background say “Why did you call?” before the call was terminated, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

A followup call by dispatchers went to voice mail, but a short time later a man called dispatchers and told them no one there had called 911, the affidavit said.

Deputies said when they went to the house a woman told them an argument with Disney got “out of control” and that he held her down and sexually assaulted her. During the assault, the woman had scratched and bit Disney, the affidavit said.

Disney was not on duty at the time, but deputies said he used his department-issued laptop computer to see that the 911 call had gone through, and tried to use makeup to cover up his injuries.

Disney was arrested on suspicion of second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment.

On Monday,  Superior Court Judge David Elofson and prosecutors agreed with members of the county’s pretrial release program that Disney should be released without bail.

So in reality, his only punishment will be one year of probation. However, his attorney,  Ulvar Klein, said that “he’s paying a heavy price,” by not being able to be a cop anymore (even though he has “landed on his feet again” at a new, unspecified job). It’s not clear from the article if he will be able to wear his cape anymore, but presumably now that he officially isn’t allowed to be a Police Hero they will confiscate that from him.

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Update: Harris County Texas Cop Who Raped Dog on Video Also Charged With Possession of Child Porn

In an update to a story I posted two days ago, it is now being reported that, in addition to having been caught uploading a video of himself raping a dog (using a Harris County Sheriff’s Office computer), Deputy Andrew C. Sustaita Jr. has now been charged with multiple accounts of possessing child pornography.

Reportedly, over 200 images and videos of child porn, including images of at least two girls under four years old being raped, were found on Sustaita’s personal computer during the bestiality related investigation.

Via ABC13.com:

A former deputy accused of posting a video of himself performing a sex act with an animal is now charged with possession of child porn, according to the Harris County District Clerk’s Office.

Andrew C. Sustaita Jr. is a six-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, most recently assigned to the Crime Control Division.

According to charging documents, when deputies searched Sustaita’s personal laptop, they discovered more than 200 child pornographic photos and videos. At least two female victims in the photos appear to be as young as 4 years old, documents say.

Sustaita was identified as a suspect during the course of an investigation managed by the sheriff’s high tech crime unit.

The (original) video reportedly shows him involved in a sex act with a small dog.

No other details have been released.

Not surprisingly, neither his father, who is currently still employed as a HCSO deputy, nor his attorney were ready to make a statement about the allegations against Sustaita. (Because you’re pretty much never ready for that.)

Local Media Coverage of New Charges

Original Local Media Coverage

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Texas Police Hero Filmed Himself Raping Dog; Posted Video Online Using HCSO Department Computer

Although details haven’t been released, Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew C. Sustaita Jr. has been arrested after he was caught “producing obscene material online.”

Sustaita was caught after HCSO investigators from the High Tech Crime Unit were contacted about someone uploading a video involving bestiality from a sheriff’s department computer.

Via ABC13.com:

The video reportedly shows him involved in a sex act with a small dog.

“The possession of obscene and illicit material is made even more troubling when a sheriff’s office employee is found to be involved,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

“Every resource of this office will be dedicated to protecting the public and holding our employees accountable for wrongdoing.”

The deputy comes from a law enforcement family, and they said they are waiting for more information.

His father says he is devastated to hear this allegation, that his son is a hard worker, and that he is reacting like any father would.

Sustaita is charged with obscenity, a state jail felony.

Before coming to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Sustaita’s LinkedIn profile said he was a U.S. Army specialist, and also worked at Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office.

A source who knows the deputy tells Eyewitness News, in his experience and knowledge, he knows him as an honorable and committed family man.

The hard working, honorable, and committed family man was actually fired and charged immediately, which might just be the most shocking part of this story. Reportedly, he could be facing additional charges, as well. He should probably update that Linkedin profile so that he’s ready to move onto another department once they offer him a plea deal for probation and some community service.

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“Exemplary Officer” Suspended by Dartmouth Police Department for Repeatedly Abusing Girlfriend

Officer Josh Luis was celebrated as an “exemplary officer” in September on the Facebook page of the Dartmouth (Massachusetts) Police Department for not abusing and/or murdering a minority woman during a traffic stop (see below). Just a few months later though, he has been suspended after his girlfriend reported that he had been abusing her repeatedly over the course of the past year. the reported abuse included threatening her with a gun and sexually assaulting her while threatening to rape her.

Via TurnTo10.com:

According to court documents, the victim claims she was physically and verbally abused on at least 10 separate occasions during the past year.

The victim claims that during one incident, Luis “threatened to rape her while tearing her clothes off,” but stopped.

On another occasion, she said Luis pointed his gun at her before threatening to kill himself if she left him.

The woman also claims Luis took a phone from her several times.

Domestic violence advocates note that his actions are consistent with what they see in many other cases.

“The pattern is overall about power and control and that involves, in fact, controlling how people communicate,” said Pamela MacLeod Lima, who is the executive director of Women’s Center in New Bedford.

Meanwhile, Chief Robert Szala has vowed to investigate even though Luis “is a very competent, very good officer and it’s just an unfortunate situation we’re all in.” Once that investigation concludes, Officer Luis could be taken off paid vacation and instead fired, which would force him to to apply for a job at some other department after his wrist heals from the minor plea deal they offer him.

The Dartmouth Police Department Public Relations Department hasn’t posted anything on their Facebook page (yet) about this “unfortunate situation” or whether his girlfriend is a minority. (Even though they couldn’t post the other one fast enough).

Dartmouth Police Officer Josh Luis pictured with a woman he didn’t beat.


I took a screenshot before they removed it, though. (Not my first day on the internets.)

Officer Luis is apparently really good at eating chicken wings, too.

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Former West Virginia Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested for Raping, Torturing, and Attempting to Waterboard His Wife

Kevin Woodrum, a former deputy with the Boone County (WV) Sheriff’s Office, was arrested earlier this week and charged with malicious wounding, sexual assault, and domestic battery against his wife. According to a criminal complaint filed in Boone County, Woodrum held his wife hostage while beating, torturing, and raping her over the course of hours. At one point during the ordeal, Woodrum even poured water on her face in an attempt to waterboard her.

Via Yahoo.com:

West Virginia State Police went to the Woodrum, 43, residence on Saturday to investigate a domestic situation. Woodrum allegedly told officers to leave unless they had a warrant and that his wife was asleep.

After a few minutes, officers were able to speak with the victim and noticed her face was swollen and bruised. She allegedly told officers that Woodrum had been beating and torturing her for hours.

The victim then detailed for officers the harrowing ordeal Woodrum allegedly put her through, including burning her several times with a lighter and cutting off her hair while pouring water on her face in an attempt to “waterboard” her, WSAZ3 reports.

She reportedly said that on Friday night, Woodrum became mad at her and tied her hands and feet to the bed. He allegedly punched her multiple times in the face and ran a lighter across her body burning her.

For the next few hours, the woman said in the complaint, Woodrum sexually assaulted her, threatened to kill her and choked her until she lost consciousness, WSAZ3 reports.

It’s kinda hard to tell what will eventually happen with this case. Police officers have a known propensity for domestic violence, committing abuse against their wives and children at four times the rate of the national average. Police departments and unions also have a well established tendency to protect their Brothas in Blue at the expense of abuse victims. However, it’s been over a decade since Woodrum wore his Magic Suit and the abuse he committed against his wife was pretty outrageous. There’s no guarantee that he’ll get the alumni recognition and Policeman’s Discount that most retired/ex-cops can pretty much count on.

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Ottawa Cop Whose Son “Looked Like He Was In a Concentration Camp” Convicted of Child Abuse; Sexual Assault

A Canadian Mountie and his wife have been convicted of several abuse charges including sexual assault against the officer’s son. After running away, the RCMP officer’s son was found with severe signs of having been starved and physically abused by an Ottawa Police Constable. That constable, Cindy Cybulski, initially was planning to return the son to his father and step mother until the father began talking about how difficult it was to raise a child and how he had to resort to tying up and beating the 11 year old.

That prompted her to go and look at the boy, who earlier had collapsed while walking with a neighbor who was trying to take him back to the father’s house. In addition to visible signs of current physical abuse, the boy had scars indicating he had been locked up with chains on his wrists and ankles. He was also so malnourished that Const. Cybulski compared his condition that of someone from a concentration camp movie.

Via the National Post:

“It was like a concentration-camp movie. His chest was just bones — you could see every rib,” Cybulski said.

The boy also had gouges on his wrists and ankles from his chains.

The constable wept on the stand, saying “and a minute earlier I just wanted to give him back to his dad.”

Instead, the constable arrested the RCMP officer, who along with his wife, were found guilty on Nov. 21. The father and stepmom — whose names are under a publication ban to protect the identity of the boy — are awaiting sentencing for their crimes. (The father was convicted of assault, sexual assault, forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessities of life. The stepmom was found guilty of assault with a weapon and failing to provide the necessities of life.)

When the boy finally escaped from his family’s darkened Kanata basement — its windows were covered — he’d endured at least six months of starvation and torture. Weighing only 50 pounds, the boy was first seen trudging through knee-deep snow in backyards in search of water. One neighbour spotted him trying to draw water from his garden tap so he slid open the back patio door and filled up the starving kid’s water bottle and sent him on his way. That neighbour said the boy looked like a ghost.

The boy later showed up at another neighbour’s front door around suppertime looking to speak to her son. She told court that she hadn’t seen the boy in a year and a half.

He used to be “chubby, happy and full of energy,” she said. “He was completely changed. I couldn’t recognize him.”

The boy appeared nervous, she said, and fumbled for change from his pocket, offering it while asking if he could stay at her home for the night.

She started walking the boy back to his own home, but when the boy complained of back pain, her husband called the police.

That’s when Const. Cybulski showed up, and after coming sliver-close to reuniting the starving boy with his abusive father, she took an extra minute and spared a young boy from more torture down in a darkened Kanata basement.

I’ll give some credit to Const. Cybulski for eventually doing the right thing and arresting this Mountie and not go to far into criticizing her investigative skills by pointing out that she probably should have (and if it was any non-Hero would have) looked the kid over for a minute before the father gave her his heartbreaking story about how hard it was for him to raise a “problem child” without beating, chaining up, and sexually abusing him.

Of course, police are pretty well known for the enthusiasm with which they adhere to the old adage of “spare the rod, spoil the child.” In fact, the families of cops are at least four times as likely to be abused.

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Dominique Heaggan-Brown Charged in Shooting That Sparked Riots in Milwaukee; Sylville Smith Was Unarmed When Executed

Earlier today, charges of first-degree reckless homicide were filed against Dominique Heaggan-Brown for the shooting Syville Smith in August. Heaggan-Brown, who had earlier professed his desire to “start a riot like it’s Baltimore,” got his wish when Milwaukee erupted into riots after the murder of Smith. As I wrote about in October, Officer Heaggan-Brown also bragged that he could “do anything without repercussions” during a night in which he drugged and raped another man.

Unfortunately for him, he soon found that that expectation didn’t quite match-up to reality. He was arrested and charged with sexual assault for that attack, as well as another previous attack against a different man back in July. Those charges also included some prostitution related charges. Heaggan- Brown was fired from the Milwaukee Police Department as a result of those charges on October 31st.

The charges that filed today for the shooting of Smith make it very clear that not only was Heaggan-Brown unjustified in his action, but that they constituted an outright murder. The details that were released make it clear that Sylville was executed that day while unarmed and in no way representing a threat to Officer Heaggan-Brown or any other officer at the time that he was shot.

Via the New York Times:

Police officials have said that Mr. Smith was carrying a stolen handgun with a large-capacity magazine, and that he pointed it at the officer before the officer fired. But the criminal complaint filed on Thursday gives a somewhat different picture, based on video recorded by body cameras worn by Officer Heaggan-Brown and his partner. That video has not been made public.

In the video, Mr. Smith “turns his head and upper body towards the officers,” according to an investigator’s affidavit cited in the complaint. “He then raises the gun upward while looking in the direction of the officers and throws the gun over the fence into the yard.”

As Mr. Smith was raising the gun, the complaint says, Officer Heaggan-Brown fired his own weapon, the bullet passed through Mr. Smith’s arm and the suspect fell on his back. “Heaggan-Brown is observed standing a short distance from Smith with his weapon pointed down at Smith when Heaggan-Brown discharges a second shot from his weapon,” the complaint says.

Mr. Smith was hit in the chest.

There’s nothing ambiguous about that description. What you’re reading in those quotes is a description of a gangland execution. While it’s never a great idea to raise your hand with a gun (or anything else) in it toward a bunch of scared, trigger happy cops, Smith clearly made an effort not only to get rid of the gun he had on him, but to make sure those cops knew he had gotten rid of it.

Regardless of his prior intentions, after Smith was already disarmed, shot once, and lying on the ground, Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown stood over him and shot him in the chest. There’s no way to sugarcoat that or pretend it was an accident. Officer Heaggan-Brown committed a murder that day, plain and simple. And it’s very much obvious now why the police didn’t want to release that body camera video to an already outraged and angry public.

Meanwhile, even though the charge of first-degree reckless homicide carries a potential sixty year sentence (don’t hold your breath), Officer Heaggan-Brown should be charged with the crime he committed, which was murder.

“Start a Riot Like It’s Baltimore”

Video Taken During the Riots in Milwaukee by CopBlock Network Contributor Isiah Holmes

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