Trial By Media

posted by Bill Edwards -

On January 23rd this year Savannah Police and U. S. Marshals were dispatched to pick up a murder suspect.  20-year-old Ricky Boyd wanted in the murder of another young man two days before.  These situations are always dangerous but usually end peacefully with the "person of interest" surrendering peacefully.  Such was far from the case that day. As luck would have it it was Mark Revenue's first day on the job as the Savannah Police Department's interim chief having recently retired as Pooler's top cop.  Welcome aboard, Mark, you were about to get thrown under the bus along with your fellow officers. You and the other boys in blue were about to experience what we "lovingly" refer to as "trial by media."  

Things deteriorated rapidly when police arrived at Ricky's residence.  Everyone was ordered to evacuate the house and Ricky finally came out anything but willingly.  The initial report said he came out hands in his pockets and was ordered to show them by authorities. After repeating the order several times, he pulls out what looked like a semi-automatic pistol on the 9mm variety.  He took a shooting stance and pointed the weapon at arresting officers .  Fearing for their lives, several opened fire and Ricky was killed looking for all the world like a classic case of what's known in the law enforcement world as "suicide by  cop."  Brandishing a weapon against an overwhelming force is foolish or on purpose, there's no third possibility.  

It seemed pretty straight-forward, the cops acted well within their rights and one was wounded in the process but fortunately he's recovered.  Chief Revenue went to the scene and was more than cooperative with the news media relaying what he knew happened from what his officers and Marshals told him.  Details in the immediate aftermath of something as horrific as this are sketchy and sometimes contradict one another. But Chief Revenue told what he knew at the time.  Several hours later at police headquarters in a press conference he changed the synario somewhat.  That didn't seem like a big deal at the time until Boyd's family got "lawyered up" with one Will Claiborne and their side of the story changed the tone 180 degrees.  Suddenly we were told that the police overreacted and to hear Claiborne and Boyd's mom tell it, Ricky was a pure as the driven snow.  Ricky didn't have a gun, doesn't own a gun, doesn't know what a gun is and had never even heard of guns!  He was surrendering peacefully and the police just wanted to take target practice that day.  No justification whatsoever. They came there with the sole purpose of killing Ricky to save the taxpayers the cost of incarceration and putting him on trial.  

The television stations had a field day interviewing Ricky's mom, grandmother, neighbors who all described Ricky as a model citizen.  Claiborne became the Chuck Schumer of Savannah where the msot dangerous place to be was between him and a camera.  Meanwhile, the SPD has turned the entire matter over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) which has a sterling history of fairness in these matters and has no hesitation of fingering police officers who step out of line.  The District Attorney's office waited patiently for the investigation report.  But patience was an unknown concept on the Boyd family side.  Claiborne and Ricky's mom were suddenly on television more than car salesmen and other lawyers. Claiborne and mom DEMANDING the body-cam video be released and what the heck was taking so long.  This should have been taken care of and wrapped up and every police office on the scene arrested for murder and behind bars the day after the shooting.  And, by the way, if Ricky did have a gun how did it get 40 feet away as a later picture taken by a neighbor showed?  He couldn't have thrown it that far, he was fatally wounded!

When the GBI's investigation finally arrived on DA Meg Heap's desk the demands went up again.  Claiborne said she was dragging her feet, and not being transparent nor reaching out to the family.  Meanwhile, the television stations were playing the interviews with the crying mom ad nauseum while their favorite attorney kept hammering the cops, especially Chief Revenue.  The news stories then began to show Revenue's initial interview at the scene and juxtaposed it with his later press conference that afternoon and highlighted the changes in the story.  OF COURSE THERE WERE CHANGES....hours later more information was available.  This isn't brain surgery my dear colleagues!  More like Sherlock's famous line, "Elementary my dear Watson!"  Just pathetic especially since they knew the police could not respond in kind with an active investigation in progress.  TV even gave the impression that it was the DA doing the investigation--wrong again. The GBI did the entire investigation and THEN turned it over to the DA.  

DA Heap wisely turned it all over to the Grand Jury of 23 ordinary citizens. And what did they find?  The police acted within their bounds and what did the infamous body cam video show that the Boyd family was screaming to have released?  Ricky came out of the house, produced the gun and took a shooting stance.  The gun that attorney Claiborne kept saying did not exist or had to have been placed at the scene later because it was 40 feet from the front door turned out to have been moved by police regulations--get the evidence (in this case the BB gun) away from the perp.  The DA's office didn't ignore the Boyd family, they were invited to come in to discuss the case but refused.  They also refused to go before the grand jury.  Things that make you go, "hummmmm!"

Now they're demanding a federal investigation and Claiborne is accusing police nationwide of shooting too many people.  He's demanding now a civil investigation.  Well good luck with that!  :Your case has more holes than a wiffle ball.  I'm sick of the media and some attorneys throwing our law enforcement officers "under the bus."  This anti-cop mentality fomented by a certain president has gotten so far out of hand that we've already had 56 police officers killed in the line of duty this year and it's not even June.

Being a police officer is one of the toughest jobs in the world and God bless them all and those even considering a law enforcement career. They have my undying admiration and I have several very dear friends who are cops and I pray for God to surround them with His Guardian Angels three layers deep every day.  They deserve better treatment and the media needs to quit painting the newspapers and television screens bright yellow questioning their every move. Go back to something called "journalism" again.   Especially now that everybody has a video camera and believe me you can manipulate those videos to show what you want them to show.  

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Bill Edwards

Bill Edwards

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