Opinion

Another Open Letter To Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

Deputy Matt Deputy Sheriff

Dear Mayor Johnson,

I am a deputy sheriff who was born and raised in the city of which you are currently the mayor. While I have not lived there in quite some time, I still consider it my home town, so I try to keep up with what is happening there.

You may recall a letter I sent you back on October 1st which was a response to an op-ed you wrote. Despite you choosing not to respond to my letter, I am quite sure you are familiar with the letter itself, but based on the reckless comments you made on camera last night at a community meeting, it appears you gave it as much consideration as you would a poorly written fortune cookie.

In my original letter to you, I mentioned what I saw as the similarities between you and me, but after watching online this morning the video clip of your public comments last night, it appears I gave you far too much credit. In case you are wondering why I had to watch your comments online, that is because last night I was working, wearing riot gear, walking the streets dealing with protesters who feed off the ill-conceived, misguided, and I daresay racist comments that you and the other junior league Al Sharptons are serving to them.

In case you are wondering what comments I am referring to, let me quote you:

I’m obviously disappointed by the grand jury’s verdict. We may quibble and debate over the details of what happened in Ferguson on August 9th. What there’s no controversy about is the fact that an injustice occurred.

You see Mayor Johnson, that last sentence there indicates to me your utter lack of impartiality in this matter.  It is clear to me, when considering the words literally coming out of your mouth, that you already had your mind made up about what happened on that day several months ago, and no amount of evidence to the contrary was going to sway your opinion.  A jury of private citizens (not cops) weighed mountains of evidence presented to them and rendered a verdict indicating that Officer Darren Wilson had not acted illegally, and thus was not going to face criminal prosecution.  In case you care to ponder that evidence yourself, it has been released and can be found here.

The fact that you feel an injustice occurred, despite the very thorough and lengthy investigation and grand jury process, coupled with the comments you made in your opinion piece I originally wrote to you about, indicates to me that you feel that this whole incident was based on race; the race of Brown and the race of Wilson. That you fail to acknowledge that there could have been any other factors at play in that interaction just demonstrates to me that you are just another person hung up on race.

As if your comments on camera last night did not do enough damage to your community, you later released another public comment via the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in which you further demonstrate your lack of understanding of how the criminal justice system works.

The nation’s mayors strongly believe that there should have been open-court proceedings in the case of the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown so that the evidence could have been presented in a public forum, and a verdict could have been rendered by a jury.

That a conference of mayors is somehow unfamiliar with the way in which a criminal case proceeds makes me fear for the cities over which they preside. Criminal cases do not go straight to jury trial. Before charges are filed, they are first considered to determine if a criminal trial is merited. The burden of proof at this point in the proceedings is much, much lower than it is at a criminal trial. These proceedings are not open to the public for a number of reasons, but there is a court record of those proceedings which can be reviewed by the public at a later time (which I highly recommend you do in this case).

To play on a line delivered by Fred Gwynne playing Judge Chamberlain Haller in the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” the State of Missouri has a procedure, and the procedure at this time was to send the criminal case to the grand jury for consideration. It appears to me that you want to skip the grand jury hearings, go directly to trial, skip the trial and go directly to a conviction. They are not about to revamp the entire judicial process just because you find yourself in the unique position of disagreeing with a court finding.

As leaders of cities across the country, we are committed to working with our communities to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated.

That sentence further both saddens and angers me. Perhaps it is due to my cop perspective on this issue, or due to the fact that I know from your past comments that you feel law enforcement is somehow a racist organization, but by saying that, you appear to be taking any blame off of Brown and putting it all on the cops. The tragedy here, as the grand jury’s decision indicates, solely rests on the shoulders of the criminal actions of Michael Brown. If you want to prevent future such tragedies, you need to instill the need to raise children who abide by the law, who show respect to other people, up to and including law enforcement, and most importantly, to accept personal responsibility for their own actions instead of always trying to put the blame on someone else.

If you care to respond to this letter, you can do so via email, or your office manager can, just like he did after I sent you my previous letter, contact the president of my union who will gladly put you in touch with me.

Sincerely,
Matt