When Police & Prosecutors Are Partners in Crime (Part 2)
The Testimony of Spooky Brown, Esq. (Second Series)
For Part 1, click here.
(Part 2 of 4)*
Get That 911 Call
I decided to keep the case, wanting to at least control my own destiny by handling any initial complaints myself. Plus, I was sick and tired of colleagues kicking the can on difficult cases that they didn’t want to handle. For me, avoiding cases took more energy than just handling them.
To calm the officers down, I assured them that I’d handle the case personally. I gave them my cell phone number and told them to give me a call if they had any questions — day or night. That’s what I do for all victims of crime.
I shook each officer’s hand and smiled.
After court that day, I went to my office and read the factual summary of the case.
- A Latino named “Gabriel” was charged with attempting to take the firearm of a police officer.
- Police officers were initially called to the scene for a domestic disturbance.
- He refused to answer their questions and became irate and combative.
- When they tried to arrest him, he resisted.
- As one of the officers tried handcuffing him, he reached for the officer’s gun, which was located in a holster on the officer’s hip.
- The officer punched him several times.
- He was taken to the hospital for injuries.
I also noted that the police never followed up on the domestic disturbance call. Because of this, I knew there was more to the story. I had to speak to Gabriel’s defense attorney to find out what that was. I decided to wait until the next court date, which was in a week.
When the court date arrived, I found out that Gabriel’s attorney was someone I’d worked with before. He was an older Black man known for being firm but honest. I dapped him up in court and asked him who his client was. He pointed out Gabriel, who was sitting in a wheelchair toward the back of the courtroom.
“Shit!” I said, shaking my head. “Is your guy in a wheelchair because of this case?”
“Nah man, he was shot a few years back,” he told me. “No need to worry about that.”
When I asked about the case, he said, “Before you decide on what you’re gonna do with this, just get the 911 call, man. That’s all I’m gonna say. We’ve been asking for the call for several months now, and no one has provided it to us.”
“Man, how do you even know that a call was ever made?”
“Trust me, a call was made,” he said.
With that, I asked him to give me a couple weeks to check it out.
With no objection from me, the court reluctantly granted the attorney’s request to continue the case. Since judges don’t like aging cases on their docket, they strongly encourage defense attorneys to either settle or go to trial. However, they usually back off when the prosecutor doesn’t object. Since I knew the attorney wasn’t bullshitting me, I had no problem with the continuance. I’d rather try to get to the truth now instead of later — after Gabriel was sentenced and sent to state prison.
As for the officers, I told them that the case had to be continued one more time because I had a pre-planned vacation that I couldn’t change. If they wanted me to handle the case personally, I needed one more continuance. They seemed to appreciate my follow-up because they didn’t complain.
When I saw Gabriel getting wheeled out of the courtroom, I immediately thought, “Why the fuck would a man in a wheelchair fight a cop and grab for his gun with other cops around?”
*The opinions here do not reflect the official views of the L.A. District Attorney’s Office, my current employer. To avoid fierce harassment and oppressive retaliation, I’ve decided to conceal my identity, for now.