Thursday, July 11, 2002

Don't Shoot the Messenger

In keeping with the LA cops' usual sense of contrition, John Barnett of Orange, CA, the lawyer for officer Jeremy Morse who was shown beating a teen on video, said today Morse's actions were justified. The lawyer actually said that Morse was "restrained" in his use of force.

He didn't volunteer that Morse has been accused of misconduct in at least six other incidents.

Worse than that, or maybe just about equal, the cops then arrested Mitchell Crooks, the cameraman/tourist who filmed the video--on minor charges.

Seems the police and prosecutors were anxious to get their hands on the video (remember it had only been aired on tv) so they had a subpoena issued for Crooks and his video. Crooks was reluctant to go. He was afraid the police would hurt him for filming the video.

Crooks and Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Curt Livesay ended up on the same radio show in the afternoon, the DA in the studio and Crooks calling in by phone--here's part of their exhcange:

"Mitchell, let me assure you that there is a grand jury subpoena for you, and I suggest you honor it," Livesay told Crooks. "You show up at the Criminal Courts Building—that's downtown, 210 W. Temple [Street] and be there promptly ... at the grand jury."

"Yeah, well I hope the city rallies behind me," Crooks replied. "They're coming after me because I shot the video. I fear for my life."

"Mitchell, this is Livesay," the prosecutor shot back. "We want you before the grand jury, not in a cell somewhere. We want you before the grand jury and we want that original tape."

Crooks hung up. Later, he was outside the offices of CNN (good guess this is where the actual video was being kept) when the police swung by to arrest him on outstanding warrants from another county for petty theft and driving under the influence with a hit and run.

In our view, he tried to be a good samaritan and help out a kid being beaten by police by creating a record of what happened and look what hot water he landed in. And you wonder why more people don't intervene to help people in trouble ?

Here's the text of the civil rights lawsuit the teen filed against the cop.

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