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Twin Cities Carry Forum Archive • View topic - Public opinion consequences of refusing to talk to the media
 
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 Public opinion consequences of refusing to talk to the media 
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 Post subject: Public opinion consequences of refusing to talk to the media
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 8:19 pm 
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I'll start out by making it clear that I understand that there is nothing to gain and everything to lose by talking to law enforcement in the aftermath of a DGU. I realize that the right thing for anyone to do is invoke right to counsel, STFU, and to make no statement to law enforcement except on the advice of a competent attorney.

And I'll go further by saying that, in general, that is also true of news media, and more broadly, talking about the incident at all, to anyone. Except under the careful guidance of an attorney who is experienced in dealing with the media, it is, at a personal level, unwise.

The trouble with this approach is that it leads to the tragedy of the commons. The firearms community benefits from fair, widespread reporting of legitimate DGUs. In Florida, where the first modern carry law was passed in 1987, I suggest that it is the constant media reports of DGUs in response to life-threatening violence that have, over the course of twenty years, altered the legal and political landscape to such a degree that police, prosecuting attorneys, news media, and other public figures handle them routinely and professionally.

I think that the recent DGU at an Oklahoma City pharmacy is an example of the media benefit that comes from giving an interview after a DGU. In that thread,

Andrew Rothman wrote:
Uh-oh. Don't talk to cops, don't talk to the press.


And I think, as general advice from a carry permit instructor to a student, Andrew's comment is appropriate. But let's look at the specifics of the incident and see whether it still applies:

1. Unlike a statement made to a cop, Ersland's statement to the reporter isn't admissible in court.
2. The presence of multiple witnesses and physical evidence leave little room for doubt regarding what happened.
3. The nature of Ersland's work and the way the robbery took place make it difficult to second-guess his actions or ascribe ulterior motives (compared to, say, someone encountering trouble after leaving a party or drinking establishment in the wee hours).

I think that, in this particular case, Ersland accomplished three things by speaking to the media:

1. He got his side of the story out, so that his customers won't wonder and let their imaginations run. In this way, he will lose fewer customers, and perhaps gain some community sympathy.
2. By getting his story out into the community, the job of any prosecutor wishing to pursue charges, or especially to seat a grand jury, is made much harder.
3. He has furthered the understanding of DGU, self-defense, and carry issues in Oklahoma City more effectively than the most polished PR person could do.

I think that, in this particular case, Ersland himself came out ahead, as well as doing a public service.

So I see this matter as being much more gray and much less black and white than it is often presented. I think that as a community we should mull whether, when, and how media contact is appropriate in such incidents, remembering that clients of defense attorneys are, on the whole, young, foolish, and lacking in public speaking skills and camera presence, attributes that do not necessarily apply throughout the carry community.

Which makes this different than talking to the cops. Nothing good can ever come out of talking to the cops, and anyone who hasn't seen the video over in the reference section should go watch it to learn why.

[fixed link]


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 Post subject: Re: Public opinion consequences of refusing to talk to the m
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 8:28 pm 
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MostlyHarmless wrote:
I think that, in this particular case, Ersland himself came out ahead, as well as doing a public service.

You basically summed it up, in this particular case. Personally, in any legal situation I think it best to lawyer up and shut up, I want to come out as the good guy and until then, I really do not give a damn about anything else. After I am cleared in a legal situation and have no worry of any further legal aftermath, then I will do the needed collateral damage control, but not before.


Last edited by cobb on Wed May 27, 2009 5:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Public opinion consequences of refusing to talk to the m
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 10:51 pm 
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MostlyHarmless wrote:
let's look at the specifics of the incident and see whether it still applies:

1. Unlike a statement made to a cop, Ersland's statement to the reporter isn't admissible in court.


Really?

I can think of at least two exceptions to the general hearsay rule that might get this admitted in court, and possibly using it for impeachment if Mr. Ersland testifies.
Did I miss the "statements made to the press aren't admissible" rule during Evidence? Or is that just a Florida specific exception?

I generally agree with the point of the two posts above but question Harmless' legal assertion.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:36 am 
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I remember a case in Omaha where a store clerk shot a shoplifter, claiming self-defense. His "press conference" from the county jail, where he explained his side of the story while wearing his orange jumpsuit and shackles without a lawyer in sight, was one of the most painful things I've ever watched. He talked himself right into his prison sentence.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:42 am 
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I can't recall one instance in my life where keeping my mouth shut got me into trouble. I can recall many times talking myself into misery.

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 3:20 pm 
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gunflint wrote:
I can't recall one instance in my life where keeping my mouth shut got me into trouble. I can recall many times talking myself into misery.


+1000 for sure!!!

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 3:29 pm 
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To counter the lawyer video telling you to shut it; When the cops arrive on scene to find one dead guy, and another guy with a gun who refuses to speak, guess who is going to jail until things can be sorted out.


Though how many times have you read articles about SD shootings where no charges are filed, and the victim doesn't even go to jail? Those guys are the ones who talked to the cops who arrived, at least a little bit ;)


I am leaning towards what many others say to do, which is give just the basic facts to the cops who arrive on scene. Don't give any written statements without a lawyer of course, but for the initial scene, I'd rather tell them the basic facts and be able to sleep in my own bed, and of course not have any charges brought up. Instead of spending a week in jail until you can fight your way out of whatever charges get thrown at you for killing someone.


But who knows, every situation is different.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 3:30 pm 
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Wow! Found a wire story excerpt about the shooting.

Quote:
AH: Clerk who shot thief charged with murder
Omaha, Neb. A convenience store clerk has been charged
with murder for allegedly chasing down and shooting to
death a 15-year-old who stole some beer.
The Kwik Shop had been robbed in the past, and the owner
kept the .38-caliber revolver under the cash register,
telling his workers it was for protection.
As many as six shots were fired Saturday night as Joseph
Knudson fled the store with Hosie Ealy, 23, said Douglas
County Attorney Jim Jansen. Knudson was shot once in the
back, and Ealy was wounded in the arm and leg.
David Johnson, who told co-workers he had been robbed and
stabbed five years ago while working at a gas station, was
charged Monday with second-degree murder, second-degree
assault and using a weapon in the commission of a crime.
Nebraska law allows the use of deadly force only to defend
against serious bodily injury or death.<



Another story, with an example of a "wincable" quote:

http://archive.deseretnews.com/archive/ ... RREST.html

Quote:
"I had given these people four warnings to stop or I'll shoot, and they were just ignoring me," David Johnson told the Omaha World-Herald


This, and similar statements, were made just after his arrest.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 5:05 pm 
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Nords wrote:
Don't give any written statements without a lawyer of course, but for the initial scene, I'd rather tell them the basic facts and be able to sleep in my own bed, and of course not have any charges brought up. Instead of spending a week in jail until you can fight your way out of whatever charges get thrown at you for killing someone.


Seriously, don't fall for the "if you just tell me what happened you can sleep in your own bed" schtick. They learn that in cop school. It's always a lie.

It doesn't matter if you write it or speak it -- it's evidence-that-can-and-will-be-used-against-you-in-a-court-of-law.

Add to that the fact that adrenaline has significantly reduced your ability to see, hear, store memories, recall memories, sequence memories, make judgments, perform simple mental tasks, estimate distances, or maintain peripheral vision, I think saying even one word is outright foolishness.

Seriously.

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 5:42 pm 
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Oh I know cops will tell you whatever you want to hear, so they can get confessions or whatever.


Many other people in the carry community (well mainly on GT) are the ones saying to give the bare minimum facts, so the arriving cops don't assume you just murdered someone.

I'm not sure how "That guy broke down my front door and tried to kill me. I don't feel well enough to talk any more" could be twisted in court :?


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 5:57 pm 
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Andrew is right on. Basic Psych of Law Enforcement 101 is all about harnessing the emotional response of an individual (in these cases- YOU)by the overt positioning of oneself as a "trusted, caring" individual that is only there to help, and can be a trusted confidant that is on your side.

After I have identified myself - mums the word until I have spoken / consulted with my attorney. And yes, if that somehow means I don't sleep in my own bed that night, I can deal with it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 6:18 pm 
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Why not hire a media-savvy attorney and let him/her decide on the talking points, if any, for the media (and police) and leave the communications and question-fielding to the expert? Seems like a win-win scenario to me.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:24 pm 
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Big and Tasty wrote:
Andrew is right on. Basic Psych of Law Enforcement 101 is all about harnessing the emotional response of an individual (in these cases- YOU)by the overt positioning of oneself as a "trusted, caring" individual that is only there to help, and can be a trusted confidant that is on your side.

After I have identified myself - mums the word until I have spoken / consulted with my attorney. And yes, if that somehow means I don't sleep in my own bed that night, I can deal with it.


that is fine and dandy (correct). Just don't let them coerce a full statement out of you. I think we've all seen episodes of Cops, and know cops will say whatever they can to get you to fess up. Everyone knows that.

But if you only give the basic facts and then zip it, what exact harm can come from it?


Here is a big thread about this exact discussion about talking/vs not talking. Some excellent points brought up. I think everyone should consider all sides of the issue before coming up with their own plan of action ;)
http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=957324

Quote:
Posted by Dragoon44:

Pick up a copy of this Months Combat Handguns, Mas Ayoobs article takes on the "Say nothing to the police" BS floating around the net these days.

Mas relates that in the 29 years he has been an expert witness for the defense in shooting cases he has lost track of the people who while justified, got themselves into trouble because they failed to communicate with the police in the aftermath of a shooting.

it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if your standing there with a gun and a dead body, ( or someone shot) and tell the police you have nothing to say, or your invoking your right to remain silent, your next stop is going to be the jail being booked for murder, manslaughter or agg battery. And the record of that arrest is going to stay even if your acquitted.

The whole "just say nothing" mantra is just plain stupid. give them the basics establishing that you were attacked and defended yourself and tell them you will be happy to cooperate but you would like a chance to calm down and or have an attorney present when you give your statement.


I'll see if I can dig up that Ayoob article, I want to see what is saying.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:34 pm 
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I read somewhere...
1. S/he attacked me.
2. I will sign a complaint.
3. There is the evidence and or witness.
4. Lawyer, Lawyer, Lawyer and um, Lawyer.

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:42 pm 
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Nords wrote:

Quote:
Posted by Dragoon44:

Pick up a copy of this Months Combat Handguns, Mas Ayoobs article takes on the "Say nothing to the police" BS floating around the net these days.

Mas relates that in the 29 years he has been an expert witness for the defense in shooting cases he has lost track of the people who while justified, got themselves into trouble because they failed to communicate with the police in the aftermath of a shooting.

it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if your standing there with a gun and a dead body, ( or someone shot) and tell the police you have nothing to say, or your invoking your right to remain silent, your next stop is going to be the jail being booked for murder, manslaughter or agg battery. And the record of that arrest is going to stay even if your acquitted.

The whole "just say nothing" mantra is just plain stupid. give them the basics establishing that you were attacked and defended yourself and tell them you will be happy to cooperate but you would like a chance to calm down and or have an attorney present when you give your statement.


I'll see if I can dig up that Ayoob article, I want to see what is saying.


Let me help you...

Ayoob on talking to the police:

1) Point out perpetrator to police.
2) Tell police you will "sign the complaint".
3) Point out the evidence to police.
4) Point out witnesses to police.
5) Will give full cooperation in 24 hours after speaking with an attorney.

Or as it gets taught by Andrew and many other folks:

1) "He attacked me."
2) "I will sign a complaint."
3) "There's the evidence / witnesses"
4) "I want to talk to my lawyer, and I do not consent to any search."

That's it folks, and Ayoob is well on record with this stuff. I've read and bought a lot of his writings, and I've never seen him advocate opening your mouth further than that.

You will be lucky to get that much controlled speech out of your mouth after a DGU. The problem is that once you start talking, you aren't going to stop. And that, friends, is what we call a big oopsie.

You CANNOT help yourself by talking more than that. This is a one-sided game, and guess who is holding all the chips? Check your pockets if you like, but they're all stacked across from you.

-Mark


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