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Are Those High-Profile Prosecutions Set Up to Fail?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Jim Mone

What if another and worse round of national rioting is purposely baked into the prosecutors’ handling of the very deaths that triggered the last round? My investigative experience makes me wonder and worry. 


A career focused on catching violent criminals and preventing acts of terrorism has taught me to spot patterns that can help prevent the next horrendous attack. The cues start to jump out at you. It’s how analysts find terrorists like Bin Laden. It’s how a good cop can nab the bad guy as he’s conducting pre-operational surveillance. 

That’s the way I look at the violence that has racked our country in the form of major race riots over the past three decades -- cases where a suspect, heretofore unknown, becomes a household name never forgotten. 

The pattern is such: You usually have a video that shows a level of violence that few except police officers and combat soldiers ever see. It shocks most normal people. Soon there’s a highly inflammatory narrative unsupported by the facts of a completed investigation but fueled by the media, activists and politicians. Think of Rodney King back then, or George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks today. 

If there is no video of the actual incident, there is still a highly inflammatory unsupported narrative. The narrative describes the unjustified killing of a black man at the hands of police officers. Think of Michael Brown Jr. and Freddie Gray. 

The press and liberal politicians immediately give it a label, like “Four White Police Officers Beat Defenseless Black Motorist.” The video is played over and over again on T.V. and now on the Internet. The unsupported narrative is also repeated over and over again by the media, politicians and social activists. There is a rush to judgment. Under intense pressure police officers are fired, charges are filed and arrests are made. 


Here is the most interesting element in the pattern, in the case of Rodney King, Michael Brown Jr. and Freddie Gray, the accused officers were either never indicted by a grand jury or were acquitted at trial. The facts just didn’t support the narrative. Nevertheless, protests began and riots ensued. Claims are always made that the system is unjust. All police officers are racist. 

In the case of George Floyd the protests and riots started the very next day and continue across the country in various forms. Immediately there have been unsubstantiated accusations of “systemic racism” and widespread calls for “defunding” and even “disbanding” police agencies across the country. Even the seemingly most rational of politicians are going along with the need for far-reaching measures of nationwide “police reform”. 

Lastly, prosecuting attorneys seem to be overcharging the police officers involved in these cases. This is the latest and most disturbing trend. Could it be intentional? 

In the George Floyd case, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman charged one officer with third-degree murder and manslaughter. These charges seem to be in line with the publically available video evidence and the initial autopsy performed by Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Andrew M. Baker, M.D. 

But then on June 3, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, overrides the decision. Ellison jumped up the charges to second-degree murder on the primary officer. He now has to show not just “depraved indifference to human life,” he has to prove “intent to kill.” Ellison also charged three additional officers with two counts each of aiding and abetting and second -degree murder. Many agree this is very risky and may very well end with all four officers going free. 


On the heels of these curious actions comes the June 12th shooting of Rashard Brooks by police officers in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Again you have multiple videos. Mr. Brooks clearly starts the physical altercation attacking both officers who are attempting to place him under arrest for DUI. Brooks steals one of the officer’s Taser and while fleeing, turns and fires it directly at an officer’s face. 

Under Georgia law, a Taser is considered a deadly weapon. Fearing for his life, the officer returns fire, striking and killing Brooks. To most of us, it seems like an obvious case of self-defense. 

On June 17, I watched in utter amazement as the Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard held a press conference to announce the charges against the police officer that shot Rayshard Brooks. 

As I continued to watch the most ridiculous and embarrassing justice system event that I have ever witnessed, the phrase that kept popping in my mind was “travesty of justice.” As I listened to Howard pile on charge after charge, I began to wonder if he was watching the same set of videos that the rest of us were looking at? 

It is evident to me that there is very little likelihood that they are going to get a grand jury indictment. And if they do, there is even less chance that a jury is going to hand down a conviction. 

I was left asking myself questions like, “What can possibly be his motive for sidestepping a grand jury? Is it because of his upcoming election? Is it because of the political pressure being applied by Black Lives Matter?” It all seems just too obvious and glaring to be true. 


And that’s when the next question, hit me: Is this the new common element in the pattern of behavior? Are these prosecuting attorneys overcharging these police officers knowing full well that they are likely to lose the case that will lead to the next round of protests and riots? Wanting to lose—sowing the wind to reap the whirlwind? 

It was Lenin, Marx’s most evil disciple, who said revolutionaries should cultivate chaos, “The worse, the better.” Marxists in this country, taking less and less care to hide their ideology and intentions, may be thinking the same thing right now. We’d better be ready. 

Denny Dillard has four decades of experience in law enforcement and homeland security. He now heads Hold Fast America, a Colorado-based nonprofit specializing in those issues. Contact:

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