Why Is It Harder To Convict Police Officers of Certain Crimes?

Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with PYX106 discussing the reasons it is more difficult to convict police officers of certain crimes than it is average citizens.

Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.

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Quinn: It’s 1800law1010, 1800law1010.com. Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti on the phone.

Cantara: You opening up tomorrow, Paul?

Paul: We do, we do. We go back into the office, we’ve been open remote, but now we get to see each other and get back to some sense of normalcy.

Quinn: Bring some donut holes for the folks that you pay.

Paul: Yeah.

Quinn: Donut holes and maybe some snacks.

Cantara: Was this your call or were you waiting for the official phase two, which is what tomorrow is?

Paul: Yes, tomorrow is the official phase two and you know, we can come back. We’re gonna do it a little incrementally, do it safely, take our time. But all in all, we are all…when I kind of surveyed everybody, everybody’s just fired up. They are just looking to get back and a little surprised by the overwhelming response. I thought there’d be some, you know, folks who just wanted to kind of enjoy being home but barely home isn’t necessarily as much fun as they thought it was gonna be. Yeah.

Cantara: Now you’re a professional who runs an aboveboard business so you won’t do what we’re doing here. Quinn and I are putting money down on who gained the most quarantine weight when we all come back. I put my money on me, so.

Quinn: Not a chance. Someone’s gonna roll in here and I mean roll in here.

Cantara: We’ve got attorney Paul Harding on the line to explain to us why we keep reading that it’s harder to convict a police officer than it is an everyday average citizen. Why is that?

Paul: Well, I think first, juries are generally sympathetic to the daily challenges faced by police officers, right? They’re always kind of inserting themselves in a situation that’s already hostile and things can spin out of control. So statistically, yes, it is more difficult to convict a police officer than it would be someone else who committed a similar act.

Quinn: What are some of those specifics that we’re talking about here, you guys? Like, you know, things that I would be able to not do whereas a police officer would be able to do.

Cantara: A police officer in a certain position would be able to use lethal force, right? Something we don’t get the benefit of.

Paul: Yeah, we don’t get the benefit of that. So, you know, just imagine that you know, you’re just going to try to…you’re never going to effectuate an arrest, right. You’re never gonna insert yourself, you know, into a situation that’s already combustible. So they’re gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and then whether or not they can use lethal force really is a question and of course this, you know, spinning off what’s happening all over the country right now, you know that video that… It is gonna be… You know, everybody looks at that and says, “Wow.” There’s just no chance that you know, charges should be easy, charges should be easy not only to file but to convict and as you look into this, probably so. But you know, these things would never lay up.

Cantara: You’re right.

Quinn: I don’t need a conviction but Sheriff Apple was supposed to be on the show earlier this morning, and I’d like to go out and give him a citizen’s arrest.

Cantara: He’s bailed on us.

Quinn: I don’t need a conviction, you can toss it out. I don’t care what happens.

Cantara: You know, I think when it comes to George Floyd, I think whatever happened in that SUV…there’s something that goes on in the SUV that the defense will be able to use that to their advantage because that’s the one part that wasn’t on video right there.

Quinn: I mean they’ve been to this rodeo before, you know.

Cantara: But just to reiterate, this conviction of the cop in Minneapolis is not a slam dunk. We feel like it should be, but it’s not, right?

Paul: Well, you know, so yeah, what he’s charged with is a second and third degree murder, which doesn’t require intent, right? It requires sort of this reckless act like if you shoot your gun into a crowd, you didn’t mean to kill anybody, but the act is so reckless it resulted in someone’s death, you can be held, you know, for that death. So yeah, and if you’re…

Quinn: And what’s that, 12 years? That’s like 12 years for 3, right?

Paul: So, yeah, probably, you know, 12 to 15 if he’s convicted, but at this point, you know, they’re gonna be very careful and if the state charges don’t hold up, there’s always the federal charges. But if we look at history, you know, we look at Eric Gardner in New York City, of course way back, Rodney King in L.A. and, there’s of course, Freddie Grey recently in Baltimore, in all those instances, you know, they saw some things that they thought the police used excessive force and in all those cases, the police were never charged with the crime.

Quinn: Minneapolis is my hometown, I had no idea they’re like the choke out capital of the world, it’s amazing.

Cantara: Is there any chance and we’ll let you go, Paul, that gets up moved up to murder one for this cop?

Quinn: He can’t, he’d have to have a 10, right?

Paul: Yeah, you’d have to have a 10, you’d have to prove a lot more. And of course, that’s where trouble could kick in. If they overcharge, which people want him to do the murder one, and then he’s found not guilty of murder one, well, you know, then it’ll just look like you know, justice has not been served, even though really technically that is not a great charge to bring when somebody is subduing the suspect.

Quinn: But if they go to his house and find a bunch of like swastikas and white power stuff and…

Cantara: You can have intent…

Quinn: …then maybe that is the intent.

Cantara: But intent doesn’t have to be 24 hours in advance, you can have intent 10 seconds in advance, right?

Paul: Well, the 10 seconds gets you to that manslaughter, like if you just kind of get fired up and you walk in on somebody.

Quinn: Emotional.

Paul: It does require a little more time. But you know, these guys they’re finding now they worked together at the same club, they may or may not have known each other, so…because they are doing security at a bar. And so we’ll see, but my guess is gonna have the second degree murder and I’m looking at this thinking, you know, it just be sort of difficult to imagine that he would not be found guilty, but I’ve been surprised before.

Quinn: All right.

Cantara: Well, listen, good luck opening up tomorrow and thanks for the time this morning.

Quinn: Thanks, Paul.

Paul: All right, guys. Thank you.

Quinn: Don’t forget the donuts.

Paul: All right.

Quinn: 1800law1010, 1800law1010.com.