Friday, June 12, 2009

Here's why people lose faith in the justice system

If Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning has to run for retention to the bench anytime soon, one would expect that he'll have the full support of the Fraternal Order of Police. On Thursday, Manning tossed out criminal charges against a suspended Pittsburgh police officer accused of pistol-whipping and wounding a man on the city's South Side, saying the officer's actions were "inappropriate" but not criminal. Let's see what you think. The case against Officer Paul Abel stemmed from his attempt to arrest Kaleb Miller for aggravated assault last June 28 following an altercation. The officer, who was off duty, alleged that Miller punched him in the face as he sat in his car after leaving a bar at about 2 a.m. Abel said he drove around the block, spotted Miller and needed to use force to effect an arrest because Miller refused to follow his orders. He said his service revolver went off during the struggle. Others tell a much different story, according to a report in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Miller denied that he punched the officer, and witnesses testified that Miller bore no resemblance to the man who had attacked the policeman. They also said Abel hit Miller in the neck with his Glock handgun, causing it to discharge, and Miller was grazed in the hand by a bullet. Despite that, Manning dismissed all charges related to the confrontation, saying the law gives police officers discretion when it comes to use of force and that "it is not the obligation of this court to police the police department." A group that is charged with policing the police department, the Citizens Police Review Board, is very familiar with Abel. In addition to the Miller case, the panel has three other pending complaints against Abel, the P-G reports. One incident involves a 2007 county courthouse brawl involving Abel and his brother-in-law. In the second, Abel is accused of trying to get his wife to make false sexual-abuse claims against her children's grandparents. And in the third, an Allentown man claims he was brutalized by the officer. In the Miller case, Abel also originally faced a DUI charge, but that was dismissed because a blood-alcohol test wasn't taken until three-and-a-half hours after the incident. The law requires a test within two hours. Abel admitted drinking four beers and two shots of liquor that night on the South Side, but Pittsburgh Officer Dan O'Hara, who responded to the scene, said he saw no signs that Abel was intoxicated. Oh, did I mention that the test that was conducted more than three hours later found Abel had a blood-alcohol level of .111? Wait, one other thing. O'Hara, the guy who didn't think Abel was drunk, just happens to be president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1 and says he'll be fighting to get Abel reinstated to the force. Of course.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

And people wonder why there is a need for civilian review board. The idea that the courts don't watch the police is hilarious, then who does in most areas?

Thank you Brant for a great commentary

June 12, 2009 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger L.C. said...

It just shows that cops can pretty much get away with anything.How many times have you seen a cop run a stop sign or blow by you on the highway.If you do it you get ticketed and fined.
In the court's eyes even with eye witnesses the everyday citizen is wrong and the cop is right.If you have a badge,it seems like you get a free pass.

June 12, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having not lived in this area all my life, I find it almost appalling the methods used for selecting police officers. Especially in the smaller municipalities. It seems to be a “who you know” situation more than anything else. I am NOT anti-police. Just the opposite is true.
Police officers should have to pass a very rigorous psychological and physical test just to be even considered for a job that requires constant subjection to stressful situations. Also, there should be periodic follow up examinations to insure that their qualifications are still current.
It is impossible to tell what an officer’s mental state is without some requirement for re-examination.
One of the most amazing things to me is the seemingly disregard for the physical condition of officers,
I have NEVER seen so many fat and obviously out of shape officers in my life. Just for officer safety, if for no other reason, good physical condition should be a prime requirement for officers that perform regular patrol duties. The area of the country that I formerly resided in requires both physical agility test and psychological exams every six months. It would be nice to see that here too, but I'm sure it will never happen.
The mere fact that the officer in question in this discussion has had so many previous “incidents” should suggest that a re-examination of his qualifications just might be in order.
Ron Wilson

June 12, 2009 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

And you can bet that the FOP would fight that sort of thing to its last breath.

June 12, 2009 at 3:14 PM  
Anonymous the anonymous one said...

Great blog! Still I would love to know how many police per citizen in greene county. then maybe the whole state. Brant I watched county inmates hook up a fire hose to hydrant and fill a county paramedic's pool! LOL AND I HAVE A PHOTO! the po po's are out of control everywhere! ever been to okc? HOLY! a cop in tx tazed a 72 year old granny! for not giving her johnny hancock on a ticket.

June 12, 2009 at 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw granny getting tazed.
Crap, granny was a better man than the cop!
Ron Wilson

June 12, 2009 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The FOP is no different than any other union.

June 13, 2009 at 2:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One can make the argument that you'll have a few bad apples in every bunch. However, you can't afford that in the police force. Additionally, officers should not be able to exercise their authority with any alcohol in their decision-impaired systems.

June 14, 2009 at 9:59 AM  

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