Short notes from the legal beat.

Dabrett Black is the man who shot Trooper Damon Allen to death on Thanksgiving Day.

Police camera footage obtained by WFAA-TV from the 2015 incident in Smith County, about 95 miles east of Dallas, shows Dabrett Black beating a sheriff’s deputy. The deputy, identified as Wesley Dean in court documents, no longer works at the department. The court documents say he suffered black eyes, a broken nose and lacerations above his eyes that required stitches to close. The footage also shows him talking to the in-car camera saying to imagine if he had had a weapon and talking about his belief that law enforcement officers target minorities.

Mr. Black was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor charge instead of two felony charges. The plea was not approved by the local DA or his assistant, which is apparently a violation of policy. However, the current DA has said he’s not going to fire the ADA who took the plea. That current ADA is running for the DA position, and doesn’t have any opposition.

When the shooting occurred, Black was free on $15,500 bail in another Smith County incident where he was charged with assault on an officer and evading arrest after a police chase this summer ended with Black allegedly ramming a patrol car.
Probation officers had told staff to be careful of Black in internal emails after the 2015 attack, according to the material obtained by WFAA. In a July 2015 email, a probation officer told staff he believed Black was trying to provoke them into responding and encouraged them to be vigilant both inside and outside the office because he believed Black was the kind of guy who would ambush someone.

Back in September, a man named Brandon Berrott was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats against his girlfriend. After his arrest, the threats continued: he was jailed “at least” three time, had to post bail, and lost his job.

The girlfriend, Lisa Marie Garcia, ultimately called the mayor of Baytown and complained that the state district judge who was presiding over the cases against Berrott was taking bribes to let Berrott out on bail.

And you won’t believe what happened next, as BuzzFeed would say:

Lisa Marie Garcia was charged with retaliation and online impersonation in a case prosecutors called “a nightmare.” She is accused of using fake social media accounts and cell phone apps to manufacture false threats and claims that appeared to be from her boyfriend. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison.

Yes, it’s another classic “b—-h set me up!” case that turns out to be true.

After her boyfriend made bail, Garcia set up Instagram accounts pretending to be him and sent messages to herself and the other woman threatening to kill each of them for calling the cops on him. She then took the messages to the Baytown Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, leading to seven charges being filed between Oct. 21 and Oct. 31.
Each time he got out on bail, Garcia would fake more messages and call the police, landing Berrott back in jail or court. He was accused of violating his bond conditions and no-contact orders.

Mr. Berrott was lucky enough to have an attorney who actually believed in his innocence, and who was able to convince the authorities to do more investigation.

[Britni] Cooper [the prosecutor – DB] said the onslaught of charges in October did not immediately raise red flags because the complaints were filed with different agencies. Once the DA’s office, the sheriff’s office and Baytown police department put the pieces together, the pattern and the holes, were easy to see.
As the investigation continued, she said prosecutors were instructed to stop accepting charges from Garcia, who continued calling the police and filing false reports even while Berrott was working with authorities to clear his name.

What kind of holes?

…one threatening message was sent at the same time as Berrott was on video handcuffed in the back of a police car.

The defense attorney was Carl Moore. Folks in Baytown, remember that name, and please throw some business his way if you can: it sounds like he’s one of the good guys. The scary thing is: how many other people are in jail for similar reasons, and don’t have that kind of support network?

This news broke late last night, while I was at the CPA class, so I wasn’t able to blog it at the time, and it has been covered a lot elsewhere. But I did want to say a few things about the acquittal of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate on charges of killing Kate Steinle, since I’ve touched on it before.

1. I’ve written before about my belief that “the verdict of a jury deserves a certain amount of deference“. I still believe that: the jury was there, I wasn’t, the jury saw and heard all the evidence, I didn’t, the jury deliberated, I didn’t. But sometimes, it’s real hard to hold on to your principles. Then again, if it was easy to have principles, would they be principles?

2. In that vein, “Law is the manifest will of the people, the conscious rule of the community.” But a lot of the comments I was reading last night at Instapundit are…disturbing. Have we really reached the point where people are ready to form lynch mobs?

(“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”)

3. There’s a lot of smart stuff from other people out there on this case. In particular:

(Follow the thread from there.)

4. Also smart: Sarah Rumpf’s “Have We Been Lied to About the Kate Steinle Case?” There’s a lot in there that I didn’t know: I wasn’t following the case that closely, but other people have said the same thing. For example, the bullet that hit Steinle was actually a ricochet off the concrete pier.

There’s also some things that I have problems with, which are not Ms. Rumpf’s fault. In particular, the whole thing about the SIG being unusually prone to “accidental discharge”. I don’t own any SIGs: Mike the Musicologist is the SIG (and FN) guy. I also don’t own one of those cool trigger pull measuring gadgets, so I can’t tell you what the trigger pull on any of my auto pistols is. It looks like standard trigger pull on a Glock is somewhere between 5.3 and 6 pounds according to GlockTalk.

Is 4.4 pounds too light? That seems questionable. And a lot of those cited incidents seem to involve holstering the gun: could the problem not be with the SIG, but with people not keeping their booger hook off the bang switch?

In a four-year period (2012-2015), the New York City Police Department reported 54 accidental firearm discharges, 10 involving SIG Sauers.

But:

New NYPD officers are allowed to choose from one of three 9mm service pistols: the SIG Sauer P226 DAO, Glock 17 Gen4, and Glock 19 Gen4. All duty handguns are modified to a 12-pound (53 N) NY-2 trigger pull.

It’s also not clear to me which model of SIG was involved in the shooting. I think this whole “bad gun!” thing needs some more investigation, and my short notes are already long enough as it is.

5. Also smart: Patterico on California homicide law. (Has anyone ever seen Patterico and Ken White in the same room together? Just asking.)

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