In 2011 following a chase, Bridgeport, Connecticut Police Officers tased and arrested Orlando Lopez-Soto. The two officers initially involved, Elson Morales and Joseph Lawlor, repeatedly kicked Lopez after he was laying flat on the ground, compliant. They pleaded guilty to federal charges of deprivation of rights under the color of law, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 242. Each face up to a year in prison.
Clive Higgins did not take the deal and was indicted for the violation with bodily injury. He faces up to ten years in prison and pleaded not guilty. He has been placed on unpaid suspension by his department, which recently settled with Lopez for $198,000. Lopez is currently in prison on a 5-year sentence on drug and gun charges.
What is interesting in this case is that Higgins is being represented by a federal public defender. Why isn’t he being represented by a union attorney? I can think of two likely reasons, first, that he was not a member, in which case he is an idiot. Second, that the union cut him loose, not wanting to defend him, in which case they are spineless. There are, of course, other possibilities, so there may be a good explanation, but that is just my read on the situation.
In any event, all three are pretty much toast, and rightfully so. While I do not have a problem with force when it is justified, unjustified force must be identified and prosecuted.