Maybe it’s time to just let criminals, gangs, thugs and thieves take over and tell the cops to sit in the station house, play video games, eat donuts eight hours a day and collect their pay. Sure would be a lot safer for them, in more ways than one.
Most of you have read my rants about the terrible fate of K-9 cop, Stephanie Mohr, and Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean, and more. Each are serving ten or more years in a federal prison, their lives in turmoil and their family’s lives wrecked while career criminals and social parasites laugh all the way to the bank, showered with favors compliments of the U.S. government.
Now comes Richard Thompson, age 55, serving his community in law enforcement for 23 years, seven of them as chief of a small town agency in Crawford, Nebraska. Thompson is a husband, father and grandfather. He may be going to prison for five years. Why? For shooting an armed criminal in defense of his own life, and the lives of others.
I gathered as much information as possible from a number of sources. Here’s what happened:
Apparently, Jesse Britton was a disturbed 16 year-old high school drop out who had a long history of criminal behavior, regularly a guest of the juvenile justice system. He had recently made threats to kill a school superintendent, another teen, and — of all people — Chief Thompson. He was also the suspect in a series of twelve burglaries, one of which resulted in the theft of a Lugar handgun.
The chief received a tip that the youngster was hiding out in an abandoned bar in downtown Crawford. As cops are supposed to do, he followed up and secured the assistance of other law enforcement officers. Two officers formed a perimeter outside while the other accompanied him inside. Good police work, I’d say.
Chief Thompson found the kid crouching down behind an old desk. “Show me your hands!” shouted the chief. Still good police work.
Britton rose slowly and pointed a pistol directly at the chief’s head. Thompson twice yelled, “Drop it!” He refused.
Just as all police officers are trained to when facing the muzzle of a firearm in the hands of a criminal, and with concern not only of his own life, but the life of his partner, Chief Thompson pulled the trigger. Then, his partner fired. Britton lay dead. A tragedy to be sure.
The chief not only did his job, he ostensibly saved his own life and the life of his partner.
Nebraska law requires a review by a grand jury in all violent death matters. Grand Juries are guided by the county prosecutor who sets the tone and the objective, presenting evidence to support his/her position. Special prosecutor Jean Rhodes did just that, and instead of vindicating the career cop, sought — and obtained — an indictment charging Thompson with a felony that could land him five years in prison.
Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning saw it differently, saying he fully expected the officer to be exonerated. Clearly, Britton has been shot after pointing a gun directly at a law enforcement officer’s head and being ordered to drop his weapon. But the Grand Jury claimed — with the guidance of the prosecutor’s office — that Chief Thompson had time to cut and run, not fire his weapon. Did Prosecutor Rhodes ever walk in the shoes of a cop confronted with a bullet?
Perhaps the members of the Grand Jury should try a re-enactment, and see what it feels like to suddenly be facing instant death at the hands of a nut ball, and you’ve only got a split second to make a decision. In my thirty-year career, and in most police agencies, self-preservation and protection of life, comes before any other consideration.
I have no problem with hammering abusive cops and even locking up those who clearly break the law. I arrested a few myself. But something is happening in our society as good law enforcement officers become a trophy for rabid prosecutors, while crooks and violent criminals are lionized as victims.
I had my own moment in 1965, confronted by a hysterical woman waving a rifle directly at me. Totally caught by surprise, no weapon in hand, I raised my hands and started backing away…but she fired anyway. Fortunately for me, a bad shot. My wound was in the leg. Had the trajectory of the muzzle been a half-inch higher, I would have been dead. And, if I had my gun in hand, I would have taken her down in a nano-second. At least I’d be alive to tell the story.
I suspect Chief Thompson will be acquitted. But not before he and his family suffers greatly from humiliation, fear, enormous pressure and the high cost of defense which will leave him utterly broke.
It is any wonder why police agencies have a hard time hiring officers these days?
Anyone interested can read the whole story on line. Click here: The North Platte Bulletin
Chief Thomson’s wife has made an appeal for assistance, asking for donations to the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. See her heart-wrenching letter at: Click here:
When the nation’s heroes are seen as demons and demons are seen as heroes, we’ve arrived at the slippery slope.