This week, a couple stories that should cause anyone critically thinking to see that those wearing badges aren’t always operating with the best intentions.
Salida, lawyer settle free speech suit for $43,000
Lawyer Daniel Zettler says that during a boat race in 2011 in Salida, Colorado he shouted to a man who was being detained by officers, “Don’t forget your constitutional right to remain silent.”
Zettler says one officer arrested him on a charge of obstructing a police officer. The Salida Municipal Court later dismissed the charge. Zettler had argued he had a First Amendment right to advise the detained man.
Zettler’s attorney David Lane says the settlement money in the amount of $43,000 was paid on January 23. Settlement documents indicate $17,350 of the amount went to Zettler’s attorneys.
Every penny of the settlement was tax dollars – not only are you forced to pay the salary of the officer who took such actions, you are forced to pay for his mistakes.
Sheriff’s deputy charged with trumpet theft
In California, a San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy faces felony grand theft charges after a hotel horn heist.
Prosecutor Al Serrato said Brandon Hatt was off duty and shooting pool with friends at the Aloft Hotel near San Francisco International Airport early December 20th when he decided to walk out of the hotel with a trumpet and a jacket he didn’t own.
Hatt was filmed by a surveillance camera leaving the hotel, returning for a minute, then leaving again with the items in hand. Soon after Hatt left, a trumpeter playing at the hotel that night noticed his $2,000 instrument and jacket were missing.
Serrato wouldn’t elaborate, but said there were other indications besides the camera footage that Hatt might be the suspect. Hatt was arrested several hours later and the trumpet was recovered, though the jacket was not.
Hatt is out of custody on $10,000 bail and pled not guilty. His next court appearance is March 21st. According to spokeswoman Rebecca Rosenblatt, Hatt is on *paid* administrative leave from the sheriff’s office.
Prosecutors said the theft didn’t appear to have been planned in advance, as if it makes a difference.
Serrato said “It seems to have been a matter of a decision he made in poor judgment, A crime of opportunity more than anything, as far as I can see.”
It is clear that the theft took place, yet people are still being forced to pay his salary.
Nora Springs officer charged with choking young victim
And finally, a police officer in Nora Springs, Iowa has been charged with child endangerment, a Class D felony, according to Floyd County Attorney Normand Klemesrud.
James A. Gray Jr. threw the victim onto a bed and choked him, causing him to have difficulty breathing and leaving a red mark on his neck, according to records. The victim also had a red mark under his left eye.
Gray is being held in the Floyd County Jail on $5,000 bond. A preliminary hearing has been set for February 4.
Gray has been ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.
Nora Springs City Clerk Administrator Deb Gaul said city officials are waiting to hear from the city attorney before making a decision on Gray’s employment status.
I hope you’ll take a moment to consider just what it is that you are paying for via taxation – and speak out against the violence.
Until next week, stay safe and remember that badges don’t grant extra rights.