I Tawt I taw a Puddy Cat
That is the infamous line of one Tweety cartoon character and best sums up the basis of the defense's case: Isnora thought Guzman had a gun.
While I'm sure you have to weight the technical attributes of what constitutes manslaughter and reckless endangerment allow me to weigh in on this matter.
Under the social contract that the citizens of NYC have with the state of NY, we give the police the authority to protect us with the use of firearms (among other items). We employ and train these individuals to protect and serve all citizens from criminals and criminal activity. Why do we have police? Because they act as a deterrent to crime. We know that where police are present crime is less likely to occur. Not only that but we trust that the training these officers undergo will allow them to make decisions that are better than the untrained civilian. Furthermore the police are a part of the entire judicial process. The police apprehend suspects of criminal activities thereby making them available to the court system where guilt is determined, or not, by the representatives of we the people. In the court, proper rules of evidence are adhered to and the defendant, presumed innocent by the process, can challenge the evidence or lack thereof. This process ensures that the people are protected from "overeager" or "retributive" representatives of the state as well as ensuring that the state treats all of the citizens in a fair manner.
In the movie Judge Dredd we witness Sylvester Stallone proclaim that he is the law. In that movie the heavily armed police were given the role of police officer, judge, jury and executioner. Dredd's character "judges" all manner of people to exectution and sends one character, who becomes his side kick, to a prison somewhere. When Judge Dredd becomes a victim of a setup he comes to the realization that he is not the law and that the law, meaning the police are not infallible. Fortunately Judge Dredd was simply a movie and all characters killed in the movie were actually able to go home at the end of their performances.
Similarly we see the movie Minority Report where people are arrested for crimes that they have yet to commit, or as is relevant to this case, what a group of people thought was going to transpire. No extenuating circumstances, no examination of the evidence, simply the word of a person and a person is put into a deep freeze for whatever term is deemed appropriate. Again, fortunately for the characters in the movie, they could all go home after the shoot was done.
Before I get to the case before you let me review a case out of North Carolina. When the PlayStation 3 game console was released there were lines wrapped around buildings in order to purchase one. One person decided that he would rob a person of their brand new PS3 in a store parking lot. Apparently, this individual assaulted the person and perhaps had a weapon. Someone at the police department decided that a young man at some house was the suspect. The police, deciding that the boy was a serious threat came to the boys home with arms ready. The police officers knocked at the door of this man's house. He was playing his PS3 at the time and had answered the door with the PS3 controller in his hands. The officer(s) upon seeing the controller, shot the boy to death.
As far as I know the young man in question has not been determined to have been the armed robber, but that really doesn't matter now does it? He's dead. his guilt having never been determined by a court of law. No evidence presented by the state. No chance for his defense attorney to cross examine witnesses or present his own. No, because of a set of assumptions made by the police, because they decided that deadly confrontation was more desirable than any number of other tactics available to them, the young man is dead for answering his door while playing a video game. Besides, since when was the death sentence approved for robbery? With this is mind let us look at the trial before you.
The defense, specifically Anthony Ricco has made a mockery of the events surrounding this case. In his opening statements he referred to his client as the black man with a gun. I said at that time that he may have well referred to his client, and the victims as niggers. I understand that he has dropped all pretense and done just that. Ricco's entire defense for his client has been based on playing the race and class cards.
The worst thing about his defense of Isnora, whom, I could be convinced to have some sympathy for, is that it depends upon entirely irrelevant material. For example, what does the National Action Network have to do with the events that took place that fateful night? Nothing. What does Al Sharpton, like him or not, have to do with the events that happened on that fateful night? Nothing. Is Ricco suggesting that Al Sharpton send Sean Bell and Co. to the bar that night in order to set up the NYPD?
The defense is asking that you find for them because Isnora claims to have heard someone say "yo, go get my gun." Though he managed to miss other parts of the conversation. The logic here is that once Isnora supposed he heard something about getting a gun, that a gun was going to be got and a potential crime was going to go down. If we follow this logic then we can ask why didn't Isnora and the other detectives step in right then and there? He was going to break cover anyway. Whether he broke cover around the corner or in front of the Kaluah bar, wouldn't matter. Had the detectives done so then no one would be dead.
Another option, which detective Napoli discussed, was getting a uniformed driver involved. That is, by his admission, normal procedure. Clearly if a marked vehicle with lights flashing had stopped in front of Sean Bell and co. Sean Bell would be alive today. How do we know that? Well, Sean Bell and co. had committed no crime and therefore had no reason to run from the police. However; Insora and co. did not make those decisions. Instead they followed Sean Bell and co. to their vehicle.
My point being that there were any number of options that would have protected the lives of both the officers and the victims. There was a choice not to make those decisions. There was a choice to not bring police lights, there were choices to not call in uniformed officers. Like the case in North Carolina, the defendants, specifically Oliver and Insora, made the choice to use force, and ended up killing someone.
In the case of Detective Oliver we find that his testimony is clear in that he attempted to execute Guzman. He admitted that not only did he not see a gun, but that he was not going to wait to determine whether there was a gun on the scene. Furthermore; Oliver's testimony that he got out of the police van and walked to the passenger side of the vehicle which he also testified he believed gunfire had just come from shows that Oliver is a liar. No person in their right mind would leave the relative safety afforded the police van to walk to a car window which they believed gunfire was coming from. No, it is clear that Oliver had decided to exact revenge for what he thought was the shooting of Isnora. We do not allow for that by police or civilians. In fact I would say that if attempted murder charges were on the table, that Oliver had intent because it is clear from his statements on the scene and ballistic evidence that he intended to kill Joe Guzman.
I do hope that you come down on the side of justice. I hope you remind everyone that the law applies regardless of whether you wear the badge or are looking at it.