Friday, October 9, 2009

Same Song, Second Verse

Yesterday I explored the implications of who we hire to be police and how it is that we let them get away with it.

Our poster child for the discussion, unnamed then, was the "resource officer" at the school for special needs students in Dolton, Illinois who was caught on a security video at the school viciously beating one of the special needs students for having his shirt untucked in violation of the school dress code. That happened back in May. Much has happened since then.

Christopher Lloyd, the officer not the actor, was reassigned, placed on administrative leave from the force, and then resigned. Authorities are, as they say, investigating. (Story here.)

You know, the thing is that people who get so quickly out of control tend to have a history of that. (Not, of course, my clients, but other people with that sort of short-fuse problem.) So here's a bit of history (thanks to Turley for finding it).

Back in February 2008, Lloyd was an officer in Robbins, a Chicago suburb, when, according to his ex-wife, Nicole McKinney, he shot her new husband 24 times - outside their home and in front of their children. According to a lawsuit McKinney filed last year, Lloyd wasn't charged because the authorities accepted his explanation that he was acting in self-defense.

He was, however, suspended from the Robbins force. Which is how it is that he was available to be hired by the good people of Dolton.

But wait, at Ron Popeil would say, there's more. Now that he's no longer one of Dolton's Finest, Lloyd has a new residence. He's in jail in Lake County, Indiana. The charge is forcible rape. They say he first threatened a woman with a knife, then held a pillow over her head as he sexually assaulted her.

Could we consider doing maybe a bit of screening? Background checks for cops?

Look, I'm a criminal defense lawyer and there's some hedging in what I've written here. He's not yet been tried for the rape. He might be found not guilty. He might be innocent regardless of the ultimate verdict. He might really have had to shoot the guy 24 times (if he did) in self-defense. And maybe the special needs kid in the hallway had it coming.

But are you gonna hire this guy to police your streets? Apparently, the answer is that you are. Or some of you. Which is, of course, some of us.

As I said, these guys get away with what they do because we let them. Occasionally, very occasionally, they cross some line and get burned. Maybe that's happened to Lloyd now. But maybe he'll walk on the rape charges.

And maybe he'll be an officer in your town next.

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