Yesterday I gave you the particulars of Lisl Auman’s case. No one disputes that she was under arrest and handcuffed in the back of a police car when her partner, Matthaeus Jaehnig, shot and killed a police officer. Jaehnig then killed himself so *somebody* had to pay for the policeman’s death. This led the prosecutor to charge the Lisl with the murder and as 7 News in Denver wrote, “The jury had convicted Auman of felony murder, saying she had set in motion a chain of events that led to the deadly shootout.”
So even though she was totally innocent of the physical crime itself- by ALL accounts including police- she was found guilty of the murder largely because her partner killed himself. Luckily, she wrote a letter to an aging Hunter S Thompson who had one more fight in him. Thompson led a charge to free Lisl, calling in favors from lawyers around the country and having friends like Warren Zevon champion her cause. All the hell raising sparked new interest in the case and her sentence was eventually reduced.
The story has been written by a variety of firsthand sources so I won’t bore you with my own spin. Go here, here, here, here and watch “Free Lisl: Fear & Loathing in Denver” by Wayne Ewing.
The opinion of police officers working their beat runs the gamut from neighborhood superstar, annoying party pooper to murderous thugs shielded by the “blue line” and a system set up to protect them more than the citizens they serve.
Ok, with that introduction you probably know where I am headed, but let me emphasize what I do respect about law enforcement. They work a tough job. Can you image getting out of your car to talk to someone who didn’t use a blinker? Sounds simple, just a leisurely stroll up to tell the soccer dad to slow down and use his turn signals. Not for a police officer. They must continually be on guard that some jackass will pull a gun on them, try to run them over or try to steal their gun, and let’s not even talk about the “oinks” and flashes of the middle finger they get- that you presume they didn’t see. Their home lives are often tough with spouses living in a fear that comes with marrying into a very few jobs. When they serve with honor and meet the standards that our cities, counties and state put forth they are the apex of what a role model should be.
When they fail to meet that standard, however, they should be punished harsher than the common citizen.
Why you ask? Because of the standard. No one is forced to be a police officer. The job is tough, but comes with power, responsibility, cache and an enduring respect by most Americans. If you see a person in a military or police uniform they automatically command respect. Their job, their sacrifice in keeping order in the crazy world demands it. But when one of them runs afoul of the law we should make them an example. A term called “fiduciary duty” is used a lot in financial circles. Wikipedia defines it in part as the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty. This standard should apply to police. In cases when accountants run off with someone’s money they get stiffer sentences than if , say, their receptionist did, because the accountant has a fiduciary duty to not steal from his company/client. Likewise, a police officer has a similar duty to us, the citizenry. When they abuse the law they should not get paid administrative leave or early retirement (which is paid by the citizens they failed), they should get at least as much jail time, if not more than if an average citizen committed the same crime. Yet this does not happen in many cases and I believe it is one reason public opinion of the police force suffers. If we the people knew the police would police their ranks and give us a fair shake when one of them fucks up, it would go a long way to improving their image and likability.
On a related note, tomorrow I will write on the terrible tale of Lisl Auman. She was sent to jail for murder even though she was IN THE BACK OF A POLICE CAR WHEN THE COP WAS SHOT DOWN! The police even testified to such. So look out for that one.