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FHP officer's case dismissed for speeding and killing someone. Officers laugh during dismissal. Video inside.

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#1 SlamWolf

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:45 AM

Video in this link

Here is the Orlando Sentinel's story.


The car barreled down a county road at more than 100 mph before it slammed into a Mitsubishi Galant, killing one woman, seriously injuring another and hurtling a child through the windshield.

At the wheel of the speeding vehicle: an on-duty Florida Highway Patrol trooper.

FHP found the trooper, Detrick McClellan, at fault in the horrific crash, fired him, and cited him with three traffic violations.
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But when his case came up in court, the trooper who issued the citations wasn't there. Another trooper in attendance said that though he couldn't represent the agency, he would not object to dismissing the tickets, and the judge did just that.

McClellan walked out with no consequences, and even got handshakes from his fellow law enforcement officers.
"If the FHP allows it to stand, what they're saying is the law does not apply to us, even if we kill people," said Dennis Kenney, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and a former Florida police officer.

The hearing, captured on video, contributed to the firing of an FHP commander, and on Friday FHP announced that a sergeant would be recommended for demotion.

The trooper who issued the citations has been exonerated — FHP found he had a legitimate reason to miss court — but seven other troopers remain under investigation for their conduct in the hearing. FHP is still trying to sort out what happened in the courtroom.

"We really can't speculate," said Capt. Nancy Rasmussen, spokeswoman for the highway patrol. "Hopefully, through those investigations we'll find out."

A Sun Sentinel investigative series last year found extreme speeding by South Florida law enforcement officers, both on and off duty. A culture of professional courtesy resulted in cops being cited and punished far less frequently than other drivers, even when their speeding caused deaths or serious injury.

The crash that landed McClellan in court happened on a two-lane road in rural Gadsden County, west of Tallahassee, with a speed limit of 55 mph. The trooper, who joined FHP in 2006, was on duty the afternoon of Feb. 10, 2012, when he responded to a call about someone throwing rocks from an overpass.

Accelerating with no emergency lights, the trooper reached 102 mph in his Crown Victoria, heading toward a curve with a recommended speed limit of 35 mph, according to FHP records. Coming the other way was the Mitsubishi with two women and a 12-year-old girl, on their way home to Quincy after picking the child up from school, relatives said.

As McClellan reached the curve, he veered off the road, then swerved into the other lane and smashed into the Mitsubishi. Passenger Michelle Campbell, 51, died several hours later from her injuries. Campbell's granddaughter, 12, flew through the windshield, and the other woman, her niece, suffered serious injuries, records show.

FHP Cpl. C. Brooks Yarborough investigated the crash and found McClellan responsible. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, determining that the trooper's driving did not rise to the level of vehicular homicide.

"He responded to [the call] rapidly because that's a dangerous thing, rocks hitting cars," Willie Meggs, state attorney for the circuit that includes Gadsden County, told the Sun Sentinel. "We made the conclusion that there was a life lost, but he was trying to save a life."
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Yarborough cited McClellan for careless driving, speeding, and failure to use his emergency lights — non-criminal traffic infractions typically punishable by fines.

A hearing was set for Nov. 5 before Gadsden County Judge Kathy Garner. Two hours before it started, Garner's assistant got a call saying Yarborough wouldn't be there, the judge announced at the hearing.

Yarborough had a "medical emergency" and notified his supervisor, Sgt. Aaron Stephens, that morning, said Rasmussen, the FHP spokeswoman. But Stephens failed to send someone else or request the hearing be rescheduled, she said.

When the case came up, seven troopers were in the courtroom, although the reason is unclear. FHP wouldn't say, and McClellan's lawyer said they may have been present for other cases being heard that day.

The judge asked if any of them was able to represent FHP against McClellan, and none said they could.

One trooper, Cpl. Michael Cross, stood before the judge but said he had no authority to speak for Yarborough. Next to him was McClellan and his lawyer, Stephen Webster of Tallahassee.

Webster turned to Cross and asked if he would agree to a dismissal of the citations.

"Why not?" Cross said. "I'm easy to please."

The judge had been temporarily distracted doing paperwork at the time.

"So y'all want it dismissed?" she said.

Cross shrugged, and Webster said, "Nobody here objects."

The judge, seemingly shocked, responded: "There's no objection? C'mon, y'all Candid Cameraing me?"

Even Webster seemed surprised, and said, "If the agency felt this strongly about these citations, they certainly would have someone here."

After a short exchange, the judge agreed to toss out the tickets. The whole proceeding took just over two minutes.

"Hearing no objection, or no one's here, I will go on and dismiss the citations," Garner said.

The video recording of the session ends then, but people in the courtroom told the Sun Sentinel that the troopers shook McClellan's hand.

Relatives of Campbell, the woman who died from the crash, are still in disbelief. They said they were never notified of the hearing but watched the recording of it later.

"It was appalling and it hurt because I feel like they were cheering, rooting him on, for a death he caused," said Campbell's daughter, Annekquah Knight, of Quincy. "They knew he was wrong. I think it's just because he was a trooper, and they look out for each other."

Son Rasheik Campbell, of Tallahassee, said the justice system let his family down.

Campbell said it was his daughter who was in the car. Now 13, she's had surgery, has permanent scars on her face and sees a counselor to cope with the aftermath of the crash.

"She doesn't sleep well," he said. "It's been extremely hard for my family."

The judge declined a request from the Sun Sentinel for an interview. McClellan could not be reached, but Webster, his lawyer, told the newspaper that the trooper regrets what happened and had been planning to fight the citations.

His defense? FHP had failed to maintain his car, and the trooper lost control because he briefly glanced down when the "check engine" light came on, Webster said. His speed at collision, the attorney noted, was about 90 mph.

Webster said the trooper was just doing his job and already has paid a big price — FHP fired him in October for violating policy with his driving that day. He said the trooper's former colleagues who shook his hand in court may have just been "happy to see him have some good news for a change."

All the troopers in the courtroom, along with Yarborough, the crash investigator, were assigned to Troop H, an eight-county region in north Florida that includes Tallahassee.

Two days after the hearing, FHP fired the Troop H commander, Maj. Timothy Ashley. His Nov. 7 dismissal letter says only that he "is terminated effective today, at close of business."

FHP's Rasmussen said the agency "didn't feel that he was performing up to standards."

Asked if the dismissal was related to the court hearing, she said: "It was his troop. He's responsible for his troop."

An internal FHP investigation that concluded Friday cleared Yarborough, finding that he properly notified his boss, Sgt. Stephens, that he couldn't make the hearing. Stephens faces a demotion to trooper but has an opportunity to appeal.
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The crash caused a death, said Stephens' demotion letter, and his "failure to ensure that the state be represented at the hearing undermined public perception that the Florida Highway Patrol is committed to justice in investigations involving troopers."

An investigation into the conduct of Cross and the other six troopers in court that day is still pending.

"From looking at the video, it just didn't seem like that's what should have gone on," Rasmussen said.

Kenney, the professor and former cop, said FHP owes it to the public to do a thorough investigation.

"The question is, what are they going to do about it?" he said. "Do the same rules apply to FHP as the rest of the citizens of Florida?"
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View PostEveryman, on 10 April 2014 - 10:53 AM, said:

I'm on the lower rung of the loser ladder.

#2 Alpha1Cowboy

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:28 AM

So in summary the Patrol Officer was fired,  his troop commander was fired and a Sargeant demoted.  

A judge let him off the hook for the fines.

FHP is doing another investigation of the Troopers in the courtroom to see if Policy was violated.

I think that's what I got.  The journalism was a little disjointed.


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#3 SlamWolf

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:32 AM

View PostAlpha1Cowboy, on 20 February 2013 - 08:28 AM, said:

So in summary the Patrol Officer was fired,  his troop commander was fired and a Sargeant demoted.  

A judge let him off the hook for the fines.

FHP is doing another investigation of the Troopers in the courtroom to see if Policy was violated.

I think that's what I got.  The journalism was a little disjointed.


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It was written strangely.  In the other link, I think this paragraph is more clear:

Prosecutors denied filing criminal charges as McClellan was responding to a call, but three traffic violations were filed. The former state trooper was charged with reckless operation of a vehicle, speeding, and failure to use emergency lights.
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View PostEveryman, on 10 April 2014 - 10:53 AM, said:

I'm on the lower rung of the loser ladder.

#4 Engel

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:07 AM

So a cop got away with manslaughter.

#5 Everyman

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:18 AM

View PostEngel, on 20 February 2013 - 10:07 AM, said:

So a cop got away with manslaughter.

No, the author buries this fact in the article:

Quote

Webster said the trooper was just doing his job and already has paid a big price — FHP fired him in October for violating policy with his driving that day.

The story would be upsetting if he weren't fired.

#6 Continental drift

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:42 AM

Of course he git fired. He still killed someone in a reckless incident. If a UPS driver killed someone recklessly while doing his job he would be more than fired.

The cops and judge appear to be protecting him. That's why some many people feel that cops aren't held accountable.

The cop is still getting away with manslaughter.

#7 Everyman

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:55 AM

View PostContinental drift, on 20 February 2013 - 10:42 AM, said:

Of course he git fired. He still killed someone in a reckless incident. If a UPS driver killed someone recklessly while doing his job he would be more than fired.

The cops and judge appear to be protecting him. That's why some many people feel that cops aren't held accountable.

The cop is still getting away with manslaughter.

if you stole something from your office and were later fired for it, but your employer refused to press charges, did you get away with theft? Also consider how frequently police unions sweep this kind of thing under the rug. The trooper's termination is significant, even though his punishment was lenient.

#8 Everyman

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:02 AM

Obviously theft is not murder or manslaughter, but my point is that he didn't get away scot-free. He was incompetent and he's not a cop anymore, but he certainly didn't mean to do what he did, as is the case with all those charged with manslaughter. He got off entirely on criminal charges because he's a cop, we all know that.

#9 Continental drift

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:05 AM

That still doesn't make it right. Just because police unions tend to get things swept under the rug, that doesn't mean that the officer getting punished is automatically just.

Edit: the point is he shouldn't be let off criminally because he's a cop. The same laws should apply to everyone. This is what leads to cops being mistrusted which is a dangerous thing for everyone.

#10 brucoe

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:14 PM

View PostContinental drift, on 20 February 2013 - 11:05 AM, said:

That still doesn't make it right. Just because police unions tend to get things swept under the rug, that doesn't mean that the officer getting punished is automatically just.

Edit: the point is he shouldn't be let off criminally because he's a cop. The same laws should apply to everyone. This is what leads to cops being mistrusted which is a dangerous thing for everyone.

I have mixed feelings on this. While I think everyone should have the laws applied to them, the last thing I want is for police to not respond quickly to significant incidents because they're afraid of being fired for driving too fast. It's tragic and sad what happened, but the fact that he was fired was highly significant because that's a HUGE hit for a police officer. The losing of one's job as a cop means that the city has lost faith and trust in the officer and that the union didn't feel good enough about him to defend him from being fired. Charging him with speeding or something like that isn't going to make a difference. However, the one place I do have a problem with this is that the way city charters work, the victims of police misconduct rarely can sue, and that's something I feel they should not be protected from. Some cities even make it impossible to sue the city, which is criminal in my book.
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#11 Engel

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:22 PM

View Postbrucoe, on 20 February 2013 - 12:14 PM, said:

I have mixed feelings on this. While I think everyone should have the laws applied to them, the last thing I want is for police to not respond quickly to significant incidents because they're afraid of being fired for driving too fast. It's tragic and sad what happened, but the fact that he was fired was highly significant because that's a HUGE hit for a police officer. The losing of one's job as a cop means that the city has lost faith and trust in the officer and that the union didn't feel good enough about him to defend him from being fired. Charging him with speeding or something like that isn't going to make a difference. However, the one place I do have a problem with this is that the way city charters work, the victims of police misconduct rarely can sue, and that's something I feel they should not be protected from. Some cities even make it impossible to sue the city, which is criminal in my book.

The thing is anyone working in any other profession would not only lose their job they would face criminal charges.  The man approached a 35mph curve at 100mph.  Further he didn't have his lights and siren on.

#12 Dodger

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:26 PM

Dat accountability. Guy who got killed should have got on the website and filed a complaint.
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#13 Alpha1Cowboy

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:20 PM

I think because of the poor writing in the article people here are making a mistake in tying the two events together.

He was not on trial here for the accident.   The judge was deciding purely on the traffic citations that were given.  The crash was a different issue that had already been investigated legally.

The problem is that the traffic citations are a separate issue.   In that it is the same if you or I get cited for speeding and the Police Officer that cited you failed to show for court.  Your case is tossed.  So that is why I don't necessarily blame the judge because she can't tie the two issues together because the state declined prosecution.  

It still is shitty and it's good the FHP is firing several of the Troopers as well as investigating possible unethical behavior.

Regarding the crash.. The FHP did their due diligence.  Even though the state declined prosecution they fired the trooper.   That's the only thing they could do legally.   I think that all departments should adopt speed rules for Leo's as such that the only time one can speed is in pursuit of a fleeing felon.  Throwing rocks off a bridge could really go either way in terms of being a felony or not depending on location.

Also the article said he didn't have light on, but I didn't see anything about siren or rumblers sometimes cops do that to try and sneak up on the suspects... But I think it was still unsafe and apparently so did the FHP

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#14 Engel

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:23 PM

View PostAlpha1Cowboy, on 20 February 2013 - 01:20 PM, said:

I think because of the poor writing in the article people here are making a mistake in tying the two events together.

He was not on trial here for the accident.   The judge was deciding purely on the traffic citations that were given.  The crash was a different issue that had already been investigated legally.

The problem is that the traffic citations are a separate issue.   In that it is the same if you or I get cited for speeding and the Police Officer that cited you failed to show for court.  Your case is tossed.  So that is why I don't necessarily blame the judge because she can't tie the two issues together because the state declined prosecution.  

It still is shitty and it's good the FHP is firing several of the Troopers as well as investigating possible unethical behavior.

Regarding the crash.. The FHP did their due diligence.  Even though the state declined prosecution they fired the trooper.   That's the only thing they could do legally.  

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I don't think anyone is confusing the issue.  It clear that the tickets were what the judge dismissed.  Its also clear that the state decided not to prosecute.  Saying the cop is getting away with manslaughter isn't conflating the two issues.

#15 TheManFiveGrand

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:26 PM

I don't know why this would surprise anyone...

It's well known that Police officers look out for other Police officers, even to the point of lying/falsifying evidence.  This has been going on since the USA became it's own country.

Sucks, but it's true - Cops are above the law (in most cases).
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#16 Alpha1Cowboy

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:32 PM

View PostTheManFiveGrand, on 20 February 2013 - 01:26 PM, said:

I don't know why this would surprise anyone...

It's well known that Police officers look out for other Police officers, even to the point of lying/falsifying evidence.  This has been going on since the USA became it's own country.

Sucks, but it's true - Cops are above the law (in most cases).

Actually Police Officers usually get punished worse in the Court system.  If anything you should be mad at the DOJ here because they didn't prosecute and the Judge could have delayed this case for another day or had the citing officer subpoenaed  

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#17 sblfilms

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:37 PM

As for the laughing and what not...that's pretty typical in courtrooms that I have been in. When my friend was on trial for molesting his daughter and tried to electrocute himself, the judge made a joke about insanity as a defense having to happen at the time of the crime, not the trial. Raucous laughter from both the prosecutor and defense attorney. Not but 5 minutes after the guy tried to kill himself.

#18 Vitalsign

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:52 PM

A better question is what ghetto did Judge LaQuisha roll out of. The video looks like something from Idiocracy.

#19 TheManFiveGrand

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:55 PM

View PostAlpha1Cowboy, on 20 February 2013 - 01:32 PM, said:

Actually Police Officers usually get punished worse in the Court system.  If anything you should be mad at the DOJ here because they didn't prosecute and the Judge could have delayed this case for another day or had the citing officer subpoenaed  

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Ehh, that's if a case ever gets to trial in the first place...

I'm friends with two Staties here in CT that I went to HS with, and my father-in-law has been a practicing defense/divorce attorney here for the past 35 years...the amount of stories I've heard of cops getting away with things is unbelievable.

Like I said - Above the Law
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#20 Alpha1Cowboy

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:01 PM

Again.. That's up to the DOJ.   If they turn down prosecution there isn't anything FHP could have done except fire the Officer.  

I was told by someone in this thread I can't apply my experiences with my department with a different department in another state.  I wonder if he'll say something about you doing it.

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#21 DAngelo.Barksdale

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:13 PM

View PostTheManFiveGrand, on 20 February 2013 - 01:55 PM, said:

Ehh, that's if a case ever gets to trial in the first place...

I'm friends with two Staties here in CT that I went to HS with, and my father-in-law has been a practicing defense/divorce attorney here for the past 35 years...the amount of stories I've heard of cops getting away with things is unbelievable.

Like I said - Above the Law

Cops getting away with things makes for good stories, cops going to jail or getting some sort of consequence for their action doesn't.

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#22 TheManFiveGrand

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:27 PM

View PostAlpha1Cowboy, on 20 February 2013 - 02:01 PM, said:

I was told by someone in this thread I can't apply my experiences with my department with a different department in another state.  I wonder if he'll say something about you doing it.

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Ehhh...the internet is one big anecdote, I'm just adding mine.  From my experience, Police here in CT (whether local or State) almost always "get away with it".

From drunk driving, to speeding off-duty, to domestic disturbances, I've seen/heard em all.

To bring it a bit further...you won't believe what attornies who know people get away with.  My FIL is country club/drinking buddies with the majority of the superior court judges in Fairfield County, CT.  Back when I was in my early 20s, he personally got me off for some things I shouldn't have been able to sidestep just by making a phone call.

It really is all about who you know...and the Police/Judges know everyone.
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#23 Scape Zero

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:55 PM

View PostEveryman, on 20 February 2013 - 10:55 AM, said:

if you stole something from your office and were later fired for it, but your employer refused to press charges, did you get away with theft? Also consider how frequently police unions sweep this kind of thing under the rug. The trooper's termination is significant, even though his punishment was lenient.

I understand the point you are making, but the severity of manslaughter is far worse than theft.  This also misses the context of the whole situation.  If anyone else did the same thing here, no matter what the reason was for driving this fast (friend trying to commit suicide, house on fire, trying new drifting techniques, Tuesday, whatever), we would be put in jail.  This guy, basically, gets away with killing someone.  Sure, he lost his job, but when jail time, fines, and all this other bad shit are on the table, when you walk away with just losing your job, you did "get away with it".
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#24 Dodger

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 03:29 PM

Yeah all of us would be getting fired, because we'd all end up in jail. I'd say that's getting away with it.
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#25 Alpha1Cowboy

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:12 PM

View PostScape Zero, on 20 February 2013 - 02:55 PM, said:

I understand the point you are making, but the severity of manslaughter is far worse than theft.  This also misses the context of the whole situation.  If anyone else did the same thing here, no matter what the reason was for driving this fast (friend trying to commit suicide, house on fire, trying new drifting techniques, Tuesday, whatever), we would be put in jail.  This guy, basically, gets away with killing someone.  Sure, he lost his job, but when jail time, fines, and all this other bad shit are on the table, when you walk away with just losing your job, you did "get away with it".

Why are you assuming it was manslaughter?  You are applying that term based on your non professional opinion, but no charges of that were brought at any point.  


FHP Cpl. C. Brooks Yarborough investigated the crash and found McClellan responsible. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, determining that the trooper's driving did not rise to the level of vehicular homicide.

"He responded to [the call] rapidly because that's a dangerous thing, rocks hitting cars," Willie Meggs, state attorney for the circuit that includes Gadsden County, told the Sun Sentinel. "We made the conclusion that there was a life lost, but he was trying to save a life."




Yeah all of us would be getting fired, because we'd all end up in jail. I'd say that's getting away with it.

http://www.indystar....-crash-killed-3

Well, I guess not all of us would be charged for violating traffic citations that lead to someone getting killed.

Farmers must be above the law too in this country...or the Prosecuting attorney's looked at the law and applied it.

Last week, Prosecutor Pat Harrington told the Journal & Courier that, based on prior rulings by the Indiana Court of Appeals, negligence in a wreck does not amount to a criminal offense and McFarland would not be charged.



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#26 Dodger

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:30 PM

You really love to argue semantics don't you
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#27 Alpha1Cowboy

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

View PostDodger, on 20 February 2013 - 04:30 PM, said:

You really love to argue semantics don't you

Not nearly as much as you love hyperbole as an argument :sun:
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#28 Dodger

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:37 PM

Il glad I annoy you enough for you to take that extra few seconds out of your day to be a twat about my word selection :sun:
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#29 Alpha1Cowboy

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:41 PM

You've just been very emotional about the Police lately....were they unprofessional towards you in the course of their duty when ...well a past thing happened?
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#30 Scape Zero

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:48 PM

View PostAlpha1Cowboy, on 20 February 2013 - 04:12 PM, said:



Why are you assuming it was manslaughter?  You are applying that term based on your non professional opinion, but no charges of that were brought at any point.  


FHP Cpl. C. Brooks Yarborough investigated the crash and found McClellan responsible. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, determining that the trooper's driving did not rise to the level of vehicular homicide.

"He responded to [the call] rapidly because that's a dangerous thing, rocks hitting cars," Willie Meggs, state attorney for the circuit that includes Gadsden County, told the Sun Sentinel. "We made the conclusion that there was a life lost, but he was trying to save a life."




Yeah all of us would be getting fired, because we'd all end up in jail. I'd say that's getting away with it.

http://www.indystar....-crash-killed-3

Well, I guess not all of us would be charged for violating traffic citations that lead to someone getting killed.

Farmers must be above the law too in this country...or the Prosecuting attorney's looked at the law and applied it.

Last week, Prosecutor Pat Harrington told the Journal & Courier that, based on prior rulings by the Indiana Court of Appeals, negligence in a wreck does not amount to a criminal offense and McFarland would not be charged.



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#31 Air_Delivery

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:52 PM

View PostAlpha1Cowboy, on 20 February 2013 - 04:41 PM, said:

You've just been very emotional about the Police lately....were they unprofessional towards you in the course of their duty when ...well a past thing happened?

You seem to be defending any and all police actions lately regardless of context. Any of your buddies protect you after you shot someones dog?
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#32 jigs1

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:53 PM

The blinking sun emoticon drives me more crazy than any post here

#33 Air_Delivery

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:55 PM

View Postjigs1, on 20 February 2013 - 04:53 PM, said:

The blinking sun emoticon drives me more crazy than any post here

It is because it reminds you of your lady love, Lopez.
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#34 jigs1

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:59 PM

View PostAir_Delivery, on 20 February 2013 - 04:55 PM, said:



It is because it reminds you of your lady love, Lopez.

Just because he has a purdy mouth is no excuse for that annoying thing

#35 Lucian04

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 05:01 PM

:sun:

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