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Iron Pig LEO's charges dropped

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Erik, Nov 19, 2008.

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  1. Erik

    Erik Member

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    It made some discussion a while back, with the thread being closed pending an update. Update:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008404074_sturgis18m.html

    Last charges dropped against cop in bar fight
    Prosecutors in South Dakota have dismissed the last of several criminal charges filed against a Seattle police detective who shot a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club during a barroom fight at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

    By Jennifer Sullivan
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    Prosecutors in South Dakota have dismissed the last of several criminal charges filed against a Seattle police detective who shot a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club during a barroom fight at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

    On Friday, prosecutors in Sturgis dismissed misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit against Detective Ron Smith and several other members of the Iron Pigs, a motorcycle club comprised of law-enforcement officers and firefighters.

    Smith had also been charged with felony charges of aggravated assault and perjury stemming from the barroom fight and shooting, but those charges had been previously dismissed, said his attorney, Robert Van Norman.

    Smith and fellow Seattle police officer Sgt. Dennis McCoy both faced criminal charges following a barroom fight and shooting on Aug. 9 during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Smith shot and wounded a Hells Angels during the fight.

    Smith told The Seattle Times shortly after the incident that he had opened fire after Joseph McGuire and other members of the Hells Angels jumped him inside the Loud American Roadhouse. Smith said he may have been targeted by the Hells Angels because he testified in a high-profile federal racketeering and murder trial in Seattle last year that sent several former and current members of the gang to prison.

    McGuire, of Imperial Beach, Calif., survived the shooting and was charged with aggravated assault, which can result in a 15-year prison term if he's convicted.

    After the shooting, Smith and McCoy were placed on administrative leave by the Seattle Police Department. According to police, both men have recently returned to work.

    Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb declined to comment on the department's internal investigation into the Sturgis shooting.

    Meade County, S.D., State Attorney Jesse Sondreal said the aggravated-assault charge against Smith was dropped because it appeared that the officer was the victim of a premeditated attack. The perjury charge was dropped after police in South Dakota and Seattle determined that Smith was correct when he said he had used a personal handgun, not a department-issued weapon, in the shooting.

    Charges against two other members of the Iron Pigs who were in the bar during the fight also were dropped. U.S. Customs and Border Inspection officers Scott Lazalde, 38, of Bellingham, and James Rector, 44, of Ferndale, Whatcom County, had been charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, Van Norman said.

    Van Norman said that a judge in Meade County, S.D., agreed with his argument that the four officers are protected under a federal law that allows off-duty law-enforcement officers to carry weapons anywhere they choose, including a bar. The federal law requires that the weapons handler not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Sondreal had pursued charges against the law-enforcement officers regardless of the federal law.

    Erik Pingel, 35, a firefighter from Aurora, Colo., a fellow Iron Pig who was carrying a gun that night, still faces the misdemeanor weapons charge because federal statute does not allow firefighters to carry a weapon inside a bar.

    Smith didn't return calls for comment on Monday, but Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild, said "this is a day of vindication for Detective Smith and Sergeant McCoy."

    Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com
     
  2. Erik

    Erik Member

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    The charges against the LEOs were arguably losers from the outset, and prosecutors are sensitive to such things. Not so with the charge against the fire fighter.
     
  3. sailortoo

    sailortoo Member

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    Pretty good outcome, except for the firefighter - some people are more legal than others - good old American way! Maybe someday we will all be equal.
    sailortoo
     
  4. scrat

    scrat Member

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    good news for sure
     
  5. 4sooth

    4sooth Member

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    Good Shoot

    Regardless of Federal law!Sounds like a good lawsuit for prosecutorial misconduct.

    Here we again see someone charged in spite of law to the contrary--and a police officer to boot!

    These officers should definately pursue a wrongful arrest action--what was the prosecutor thinking?
     
  6. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    what was the prosecutor thinking?

    Does South Dakota prohibit concealed carry bars? If so then, that would have been the proper charge for the Seattle officers who were carrying under LEOSA not carrying without a permit. The CBP officers carry under Federal Statutory authority and are not subject to state law only agency policy. I have no defense for the firefighter.

    I'm not a lawyer but I'll ask too.....what was the prosecutor thinking?
     
  7. DMF

    DMF Member

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    That's not true. If a federal agent/officer with statutory LE authority is acting contrary to agency policy, then they are likely to be "outside the scope of employment," and would not be entitled to qualified or sovereign immunity in criminal or civil cases. Of course it would ultimately be up to a jury or judge to decide, but if the agency determines the officer was outside the scope of employment the officer is likely to be unprotected from criminal prosecution or civil torts.
     
  8. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    If I were any of those officers,I'd disappear.You gotta sleep sometime.I'd get a new ID,and lose all interest in motorcycles...
     
  9. divemedic

    divemedic Member

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    LEOSA directly prohibits LEOs from carrying weapons while under the influence. I wonder if the cops were drinking...
     
  10. Guns and more

    Guns and more member

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    I have mixed feelings. Do I think the cops went looking for trouble?
    Maybe. You're a cop that has had dealings with the Hells Angles, you go to Sturgis and just happen to get in a fight with a member of the Hells Angles in a bar while you're carrying a concealed weapon. That stretches my belief. I think he went looking for trouble and he found it. Loose cannon.
     
  11. Erik

    Erik Member

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    So, cops who have off-duty encounters with the bad guys they work are loose cannons, looking for trouble? Is that it?

    Extend that logic to civilian concealed weapons carriers and an argument can be made that there should be none.
     
  12. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    Rightous shoot or not,those officers need to find new names,and new jobs,in another department,far,far away.And I wouldn't want to be that firefighter at all.
     
  13. DMF

    DMF Member

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    :rolleyes: The HA are criminals, albiet more organized than some, but they're not super human killing machines. Do those cops need to be extra cautious? Sure. Do they need to go into the Witness Security Program? No.
     
  14. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Dog bites man.

    I'd still think his department might be interested in knowing what the hell he was doing, riding 1200 miles to do a little recreational drinking with "racketeers" he would ordinarily be arresting.

    I understand, cops need to have fun, too. And there's just nothing else to do for fun in the United States, but ride 1200 miles to hang out with some Hell's Angels you recently busted.

    If the cops in question thought this was a good idea, then maybe it wasn't adequately addressed in training...
     
  15. jaholder1971

    jaholder1971 Member

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    Umm, there's tens of thousands of people who attend the Black Hills rally and not all of them are Hell's Angels. You'll see everyone from ex-convicts, blue collar, white collar, celebrities, military officers and corporate CEO's up there. Yes, even a bunch of cops and firefighters.

    Not everyone who goes to Sturgis is a dirtbag.
     
  16. jeff-10

    jeff-10 Member

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    I don'y know how old you are but from my experience its been going the other way.
     
  17. Frog48

    Frog48 Member

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    That prosecutor was definitely overzealous. Blatant disregard for federal law, in this instance LEOSA, wont get you far in life.
     
  18. Two Cold Soakers

    Two Cold Soakers Member

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    It's not a gang, it's a club.
     
  19. cassandrasdaddy

    cassandrasdaddy Member

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    once you get rico'ed you lose your amatuer status
     
  20. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Just a note for those who have CCW licenses and think they can automaticlly walk away from a shooting, praises ringing in their ears.

    These guys were cops and they still faced charges in what could have been a SD shooting. Think what would have happened to an armed citizen!

    Maybe it is contradictory to say that if you carry a gun, stay out of trouble and stay away from places where trouble is hanging around, but that is the way it is. I have read the statement that "Now I have my CCW, I can go anywhere I want and if anyone bothers me I'll shoot him." Sure, and if things aren't that easy (and they aren't) you can go to prison for life for first degree murder.

    Jim
     
  21. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Good News !:)
     
  22. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    ''Umm, there's tens of thousands of people who attend the Black Hills rally and not all of them are Hell's Angels. You'll see everyone from ex-convicts, blue collar, white collar, celebrities, military officers and corporate CEO's up there. Yes, even a bunch of cops and firefighters.

    Not everyone who goes to Sturgis is a dirtbag...''

    Didn't John McCain recently go to one?
     
  23. Wyobuckaroo

    Wyobuckaroo Member

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    Attitude in Sturgis during bike week is
    "Cuff em, stuff em, sort it out later"
     
  24. jaholder1971

    jaholder1971 Member

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    +1

    The infrastructure up there barely has the resources to maintain order during the rally. Sturgis pulls cops from neighboring towns and from the State to provide enough law enforcement.

    I imagine the prosecutor up there is swamped through the year with handling all the typical theft/assault/drug/domestic cases over that week and a major case like this is a serious case of overload.

    Sturgis is a "pay or stay" town. A ticket means an arrest and a bond equivalent to the fine/court costs/etc. to bail out. That way an out of town biker's failure to appear is covered.
     
  25. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    Possibly that the officers had been drinking or were looking for trouble?

    Nah... the Loud American Roadhouse is probably renowned as a place for a quiet conversation over a cup of coffee.
     
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