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The Bolstered Police Report?
An article by Joseph J. Pappacoda, Esquire

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You have to wonder if the founding fathers could have rewritten the Declaration Of Independence to include the phrase: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are not created equal...police officers are more credible than civilians.” Sounds ridiculous? Consider that most people confronted with a volatile one-on-one situation with a police officer will almost always lose in court, when there are no other witnesses to a controversy. This is because most people still consider police officers to be peace keepers in our society.

Some policemen have a way of writing a police report in a manner that justifies the police officer's behavior, even when the officer's behavior itself is abberent, tortuous, or even criminal towards the citizen. Simply stated, the police report will justify the policeman's actions, even when those actions are uncalled for. This is due to the fact that the police report is a historical rendition of an event as perceived, and often embellished by the policeman.

The Case In Point

Consider the case of Christopher Long, a college freshman who went to Mugs Ale House, a local beer establishment for his friends' senior high school graduation party. Everyone was underage for drinking, but that did not hamper the festivities, or the beer drinking. Later that night Christopher and three of his friends left Mugs Ale House, and as they were walking to Christopher's car, noticed a crowd of people hovering around four boys severely beating two other boys on the ground. Christopher and his friends casually got into Christopher's car slowly began to drive out of the parking lot. Unbeknownst to Christopher, someone in the crowd had called 911, and just as the police arrived on scene, the crowd and the four assailants disbursed, leaving the two bloodied victims on the ground. One policeman saw Christopher's car driving away, ran next to the driver's side of the car, and smacked the front windshield of the automobile with a baton cracking the windshield. Christopher stopped the car and was immediately thrown onto the ground and handcuffed. The other three passengers were questioned by police briefly, and released. This was a case of mistaken identity on the part of the police officer, nothing more.

The Police Report

The police report for this incident stated that the police officer approached Christopher's automobile from the back and ordered the driver to halt! The driver seeing the police officer behind the car, put the car in reverse and accelerated to the point where the wheels spun in an attempt to run over the police officer. The policeman had to jump on the trunk of the car to avoid serious bodily injury or death. The car then accelerated forward in an attempt to flee the officer, however the officer ran along side the automobile and smacked the front windshield with his baton, cracking the windshield, finally stopping the automobile. Christopher was arrested for battery on a police officer with a deadly weapon, a four year minimum mandatory prison sentence offense in Florida. He was kept in jail with a no bond hold for several days until the truth surrounding this incident became known.

The events described in the police report never occurred as the three passengers in Christopher's car, interviewed separately, gave the same account of the incident. That is, nothing happened prior to everyone hearing and seeing the front windshield crack after being smacked by the police baton. These affidavits were provided to the state attorney reviewing potential criminal charges to be brought against Christopher. The state attorney recognizing that the police report was probably written by the police officer to justify breaking the windshield of Christopher's car by mistake, charged Christopher with DUI, notwithstanding that no DUI investigation was conducted by police at the scene.

The Unfortunate Plea

Christopher soon thereafter pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI to avoid further trauma from this harrowing incident, and moved to California to attend college.

 

More Articles by Joseph J. Pappacoda, Esq.

You may be interested in many other legal articles written by Joseph J. Pappacoda.

This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as constituting legal advice. You should consult with your attorney to determine the best course of action to take on your case.

Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved, by Joseph J. Pappacoda, Esquire, Courthouse Square Building, 200 SE 6th Street, Suite 100E, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301, 954-522-6659.

 

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