Can police get a fair trial in America?
Lock your doors. Hide your children. Police officers, be on alert: Al Sharpton’s cop-bashing circus is back in full swing.
Harlem’s godfather of racial hoax crimes is in Oklahoma this week to stir up trouble as jury selection begins in the manslaughter trial of Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby.
Shelby is white. Terence Crutcher, the man she shot and killed during a tense traffic standoff last fall, was black. That’s all the demagogue demolition team needs to know. Damn the facts. Powder up Showbiz Al and hustle to the media tent. Lights, cameras, agitate!
Sharpton’s “prayer vigil” isn’t about expressing faith in God. It’s about stoking the fires of identity politics at the altar of social justice. Sharpton’s no man of peace. He’s the fetid pile of human manure who ruined New York prosecutor Steven Pagones’ life with the incendiary Tawana Brawley rape hoax. He stoked anti-Semitic hatred in Crown Heights after a tragic car accident — leading to the frenzied mob murder of rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum. He has inveighed against “crackers” and cracked jokes about “offing the pigs.”
Also headlining the self-serving service in Tulsa this week: Sharpton’s rabble-rousing heir and fellow race fabulist, Benjamin Crump. He’s the Florida-based celebrity lawyer for the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown families who gained international notoriety perpetuating the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” lie. Crump first parachuted into town last fall to snatch up the Crutcher family as new clients and to instigate protests outside Tulsa police headquarters demanding Officer Shelby’s scalp.
Nearly 200 marchers wielded “Black Lives Matter” signs and screamed “Fire Betty!” before a police investigation was complete. Others waved “white silence is violence” posters or a photo of a police badge labeled “License to Kill.” One protester took to the microphone to declare that “a good white man is a dead white man.”
The agitation worked. Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler rushed to file charges before the lead homicide detective in the case had finished his work — an obvious attempt to appease the unappeasables and avoid the next Ferguson.
Make no mistake: When the social justice warriors crusade for “immediate justice,” they’re not asking for proper adjudication in the courts. They’re demanding an immediate guilty verdict, retribution, and a big, fat civil rights lawsuit settlement.
Until the Shelby case, police under fire remained silent as the social justice mob hijacked the courts of law and public opinion. But Shelby and her lawyers fought back. She sat down with ”60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker last month to describe her state of mind during the encounter with a noncompliant Crutcher, who had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system at the time of his death. She adamantly insisted race was not a factor in the shooting and described the “lynch mob” atmosphere in the days since she was charged and put on administrative leave.
Crump and Sharpton faced no admonitions for their pre-trial antics. But after Shelby’s TV appearance defending herself, the judge in the case issued the police officer and her legal team a reprimand. This is maddening. Cops are damned if they do speak up and damned if they don’t.
Two years ago, former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was advised by his trial lawyer to stay quiet before and during his chaotic trial on trumped-up sexual assault charges by a parade of shady women who are now clients of Benjamin Crump’s seeking high-dollar civil rights awards. Several of these convicted felons gave interviews or testified while high, couldn’t identify Holtzclaw or his patrol car from photo line-ups, misidentified his race, hair color, height, and weight, and changed key details of their stories after being approached and coached by confirmation bias-driven detectives.
Holtzclaw, against his every instinct to defend his character and reputation, was told to keep quiet while accusers lied, prosecutors smeared, and disrupters shouted “Give him life!” and “Racist cop!” and “Racist jury!” Seven phones were confiscated from people taking photos in the courtroom, including images of jury members.
The judge in the case, Timothy Henderson, knew for weeks before trial that the city had granted a permit for protesters to occupy the steps and streets outside the courtroom. He lamely confessed that he didn’t “know really what can be done other than to admonish the jury to disregard” the commotion. He and city officials claimed to be powerless to stop the sabotage of Holtzclaw’s right to a fair trial — sabotage that they enabled.
This week, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a motion by lawyers Randy Coyne and J. Christian Adams to submit an amicus brief in the Holtzclaw case on the dangerous hijacking of the courts by the social justice mob. Their message deserves to be heard.
“There is a First Amendment right of free speech. There also is a First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But for outsiders at a criminal trial, there is no First Amendment right to petition the jury and browbeat it into delivering one’s preferred verdict,” the lawyers from opposite sides of the political aisle argued.
If real justice surrenders to social justice in the courtroom, we all lose.