Several Houston police officers savagely beat a surrendering suspect. The attack is captured by a private citizen on video. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office seeks to keep the video from being published. The private citizen provides a copy of the video to another private citizen, who releases it to the media, who publish it.
Does the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association:
A) Publicly state its opposition to police brutality and commend those who have brought evidence of brutality to light, while pointing out that the officers apparently beating the suspect should get all the due process that the suspect should have received;
B) Publicly state its opposition to police brutality and point out that the officers apparently beating the suspect should get all the due process that the suspect should have received, and remain neutral on the release of the video; or
C) Publicly state it opposition to police brutality, point out that the officers apparently beating the suspect should get all the due process that the suspect should have relieved, and call the private citizens’ Constitutionally-protected release—and the media’s Constitutionally-protected publication—of the video “a direct assault on the Bill of Rights.”
I wish it were not so, but if you picked (C), you’re right (maybe because you’ve read Kennedy’s and Horowitz’s posts). The Executive Committee of HCCLA (President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary, Pres-Elect, and Immediate Past President) approved an editorial by the Vice President condemning the release of the videotape.
If I were representing one of these cops, I might not feel great about a video that seems to show my client tuning up a guy for the crime of making my client run. If the government were responsible for the release of the video, I’d raise hell. But if a private citizen were responsible, I think I would take my lumps—part of the price of living in a country with a moderately healthy free press—and try to control the damage or even use it to my client’s advantage.
But the lawyer for one of the police officers shown on the video is HCCLA’s President, and HCCLA’s President-Elect and Immediate Past President have a contract to defend police officers against criminal charges. So they pick whatever is behind door C.
Disclaimer: My opinions are not necessarily held by a majority of HCCLA members. And neither are HCCLA’s.