Monday, March 19, 2007

A Right to Resist?

Holy crap, apparently so . . .
SARASOTA -- John Coffin won't spend any more time in jail for beating up two sheriff's deputies inside his house, striking one in the head with a Taser gun he took from the other.
Apparently, this is a civil matter (the cops were serving civil papers, which makes them no different than you or me in terms of what their rights and powers are), but they tried to force their way into these people's homes and then, after unlawfully entering the premises, tried to arrest a woman for "obstructing." Of course, she was only obstructing their attempt to break the law.

But Coffin, 56, had a right to defend his family and property because the deputies had no right to be in Coffin's house in the first place, De Furia said.

"Law enforcement was responsible for the chain of events here," De Furia said. "I think in situations like this, officers become so frustrated they go beyond what the law allows them to do."

The fight started when Coffin heard his wife screaming in pain, went into the garage and saw two deputies arresting her on the floor.

The deputies were trying to serve Coffin with civil papers that had been given five days earlier. They had entered the garage even though they did not have a search warrant or arrest warrant.

And they arrested Coffin's wife, Cynthia, 50, on obstruction charges even though she had no obligation to follow their orders to bring her husband outside.

"The most critical is the fact the officers broke the law by stopping the garage door from going down," and then entering the garage, De Furia said.
Wow, a judge who finally gets it right. I know a lot of former judges complain that they got tired of hearing police conforming their testimony, outright lying, and abusing the tacit agreement that Judges will give more weight to the testimony of officers (and, by the way, where is that in the Constitution*). I'm guessing that's what happened here.

Relatives applauded, and Coffin walked out of the courthouse with only a $358 bill for court costs. The sentence surprised even defense attorneys, who had suggested De Furia sentence Coffin to probation.

Prosecutors had asked for more than a year of prison time because of "the totality of the case" and the injuries to deputies James Lutz and Stacy Ferris, whose name is now Stacy Brandau.

The two deputies testified about their injuries Tuesday -- three blows to the head with the butt of the Taser gun knocked Lutz unconscious.

"I just ask that he doesn't get away with this," Brandau told the judge.

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Young told the judge the case "could have been over in five seconds" if the Coffins "had simply come out and cooperated."

"That is a man who took it upon himself to beat up two police officers," Young said.

De Furia said that while he believed the deputies' mistakes were not intentional, the Coffins had every right to lock doors, try to close their garage door and not cooperate.

"What took place in the house was unfortunate," De Furia said, "but Mr. Coffin ... had a right to resist."
At least one judge has read some John Locke. I'm really happy to see people being protected from the police. Of course the police aren't actually accountable for their actions. If they were, then the two officers who broke into the home by preventing the woman involved from shutting her garage, and then assaulted and battered her . . . well, they'd be under arrest and on trial. I guess that's just a pipe dream though.

Kid Handsome - link via the Agitator

* Seriously, why is that the case?



Post a Comment

<< Home