Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Cops’ Privacy Overriding Lower Court

By Stephen Owsinski

The following case stemming from an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of a man assailing Tallahassee police officers harkens back to the Ferguson, Missouri case involving then-police Officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed attacker Michael Brown in a case of crimes against justice.

In the aftermath broadcast globally, Officer Wilson became the person of widespread hatred and life-threatening realities when he was hounded and had his personal residential address published. Never mind the facts, indisputable evidence, distorters of truth, and fabricators of what really happened (witnesses claiming Officer Wilson “pulled Brown into his patrol car”) which led to a cop justifiably defending himself against an attacker who was grabbing for his service weapon to be used against him.

Nope, they maliciously raked his name through muck and forced a young man to hang up his duty belt and live a life as a ghost in order to keep himself and his loved ones safe/alive. Here…listen to this brief synopsis directly from Darren Wilson:

As you just heard, “We just want to have a normal life,” said Darren Wilson.

According to a report by The Independent, “Wilson has kept a relatively low profile since the shooting—save for an interview with US broadcaster ABC in November after a grand jury decided not to indict him,” adding that “Wilson and his wife Barb largely lead a secluded life.”

That tends to happen when people want to literally kill you and may be enabled when they learn of locations via public disclosure from irresponsible media sources and the like.

As NPR put it in their expose title, “Darren Wilson, An Uneasy New Dad In Virtual Hiding

The threads of Ferguson were showing in Florida after three separate Tallahassee officer-involved shootings between March and May 2020 culminated in city figureheads deciding to publicize the names of the cops involved in those unfortunate instances. Mindbogglingly, the county court ruled that the involved LEOs’ names were not protected by any privacy stipulations, hence city officials prepping to put these duty-bound cops on blast after having no choice but to pull the trigger on life-threatening attackers.

As police unions are fashioned to do, the Florida Police Benevolent Association laced up its gloves and began the battle against the potential of Ferguson-like mobs chumming the waters and vociferously eyeballing a bloodletting, as if the criminal justice system was a mere myth.

Per usual, non-objective and emotion-fueled reactions to police shootings brew swiftly while fact-finding and due process are met with blinders. Additionally, the rhetoric of racism where not even a remote indication of such a thing becomes the steady beat of battle drums banged by public opinion.

Albeit rare (thankfully), sometimes the judiciary falls short of astutely applied justice. This is one of those occasions.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson opined, “The Court finds that the explicit language of Marsy’s Law was not intended to apply to law enforcement officers when acting in their official capacity.”

Passed in 2018, Florida’s Marsy’s Law was enacted to “ensure crime victims and their families are treated fairly in Florida.” Who wouldn’t want such a thing in place? For the purpose of our discussion, note how it all-inclusively states “crime victims” and nothing exempting law enforcement officers.

That is the crux of this judicial wrangle involving police confidentiality principles.

As in any state, there are statutory chapters engendering Crimes Against Justice in which, as implied, a member of the criminal justice system (police officers, judges, prosecutors, probation/parole officers) are officially listed as agents of the state and thus construed as categorically victimized via attempted murder of a police officer or battery on a law enforcement officer or resisting arrest with violence in the course of carrying out lawful duties. (Legal studies at police academies across the nation thoroughly analyze crimes against justice and make it quite clear that cops can, in fact, be victims too. It’s inherent in several statutes legislated on behalf of police officers.)

On that premise, the PBA filed an appeal to the Florida 1st District Court of Appeals, arguing on behalf of two Tallahassee cops listed as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 (since this is a case about privacy applications and safety for police personnel), both of whom discharged their service weapons while being victimized by criminals in the course of duty, the union contended.

The PBA’s contention was heeded by the 1st District Court of Appeals: “The appellate court ruled that a police officer meets the definition of a crime victim under Marsy’s Law [as mentioned earlier, there is no exclusionary language] ‘when a crime suspect threatens the officer with deadly force, placing the officer in fear for his life. That the officer acts in self-defense to that threat does not defeat the officer’s status as a crime victim.”

Exactly. Concisely opined and documented by a judiciary body who gets it and gets it right.

There are humans filling those police uniforms who set out to implement equal rights principles, not to their own exclusion (no matter the lower courts postulation that the people have the right to know).

(5) Monica Casey on Twitter: “#BREAKING: the 1st DCA has ruled in favor of the Police Benevolent Association, overturning the trial court’s order to the City to release identities of police in officer-involved shootings @WCTV https://t.co/04LuX4O7UG” / Twitter

Too bad Darren Wilson and a few other cops in similar constructs were not secured in this same fashion.

For the few pseudo-identified cops involved in this mess (and pretty much all cops engaged in Florida law enforcement), Big Bend PBA President Richard Murphy spoke the following message: “We’re excited about this protection. We’re humans, we’re part of the community just like everyone else, and we deserve the same protections. This is a supercharged environment, I mean you don’t know what might happen. Officers’ lives were being threatened, being threatened online, and they need their identities protected. This is a protection passed by the state [Marsy’s Law], and this is what it was meant to do.”

As you just heard at the very end of that brief video, despite the Florida Police Benevolent Association’s precedent-setting win for law enforcement, the ebb-and-flow pushback persists:

(5) Monica Casey on Twitter: “City’s response on the decision @WCTV https://t.co/AYz88ptg2Q” / Twitter

Any case in which I was the intended target (victim) of battery on a LEO by a bad actor, I took the stand to testify in court as both the victim and the arresting officer. Marsy’s Law didn’t exist back then, but the system nevertheless conceived the facts in accordance with state statute and justice principles otherwise known as due process meted out in the courts. Everyone understood the realms and consequences of attempting to or physically harming an officer of the law.

My, how times have changed…mostly thanks to the mainstay anti-police noise continually churned by panderers and propagandists.

Heck, in small yet similar measure, Florida has a law which is enacted to ensure confidentiality of all residential addresses upon the driver licenses of all law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and firefighters. It is simply a course of action to safeguard these public safety and judiciary practitioners from harm via those who are otherwise malevolent and were caught previously, looking for vengeance.

Given the fostered anti-cop mentality festering in our society, it should come as no surprise that cops are not even safe in their very own homes, a shameful situation perpetuated by satiating malcontents’ right to know and kowtowing officials granting the nod at the woeful expense of LEOs and their loved ones.

Thanks to the April 6 ruling by the District Court of Appeals on behalf of LEOs, additional perils to police are nipped, for now…

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