Three Richmond Police officers were fighting for their careers this week. They were accused of obstructing justice. And a jury of Richmonders found them NOT GUILTY. The officer’s attorneys had one question today… “was it worth it to bring these charges?”
I will say, it’s a tricky question. There were obviously witnesses at the scene who felt they were being disregarded. I know if I witnessed a crime, at the very least, I would expect police to take down my name and number. But, I’ve also witnessed just how chaotic Shockoe Bottom can be in the early morning hours. People are all over the place… walking the streets, the sidewalks. And I know that crowd control can be one of the scariest and most difficult parts of a police officer’s job. A jury found these officers not guilty, but an internal affairs investigation determined things were mishandled at the scene and the officers were punished internally. One phrase really sums up this case: mis-communication. We don’t want our officers worrying they’ll be accused of obstruction of justice every time they write up a simple report, but we also don’t want them treating citizens, who witnessed a crime, like they don’t matter. It looks like there are lessons to be learned all around.