Let me rant for a few minutes, if I may.
I am tired of the courts not putting and keeping people in prison. I’m not talking about some dirtbag getting off because a police officer made a bad call on a Miranda issue, or should have gotten a search warrant when he didn’t. I’m talking about people that are found guilty.
How many criminals have you arrested without a prior arrest record? What, maybe one in a hundred? That alone should tell us the system of “corrections” isn’t working to rehabilitate these folks. The only thing the short sentences (if any) is doing for these guys, is to build them up badder and stronger for the next time we have to arrest them.
Take, for instance, a drunk I was dealing with the other day. This rocket-scientist is drunk and passed out in front of a local high school in the middle of the afternoon. Another officer and I determine that he needs to be transported to the local drunk tank to sober up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like that idea. So, he still goes to jail, but now with two felonies: battery on a law enforcement officer and terroristic threats.
This may be a bit of a shock, but this was not his first arrest. Nope, not even his 50th. Try 56 priors. Oh, and he had just been let out of jail the previous evening (less than 24 hours prior) after serving less than two months for multiple felony drug charges. In fact, he had eight prior arrests in our county, this year alone!
He also gets $2200/month on government disability. Is this a great system, or what?
So, the state attorney accepts a plea of guilty on misdemeanor battery (ignoring the prior felonies and that the victim was a cop) and drops the terroristic threats. He has already been released back into society.
My story is just a small sample of the foolishness that passes for justice in some courtrooms today. How many cops are killed by perps with no priors? Or, I suppose I should rephrase the question as: Are any police officers killed by perps with no priors?
- Phoenix (AZ) Police Department lost one of theirs this year on a pedestrian stop. The officer unknowingly stopped, and was shot by, an armed man who had prior felony convictions and was an illegal alien. His most recent felony conviction was in 2006.
- Hillsborough County (FL) Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Harrison was shot and killed by a man with 23 prior arrests. The first, at age 12, was for armed burglary. Multiple charges of battery, witness tampering, and aggravated assault sprinkle the criminal record. The most recent was for aggravated assault, for which he was out out of jail after a judge had reduced the bond amount.
- A Philadelphia (PA) PD officer walked into a store on his beat, and was shot and killed by a man robbing that store. His confessed killer has several prior arrests, including a possession with intent to distribute charge. A judge allowed him to complete a drug treatment course, and then dropped the charge entirely. At the time of the murder, the killer was out on bond for new drug charges.
And now, most recently, a sergeant with the Athens-Clarke County (GA) Police Department was grievously wounded when a convict stabbed her repeatedly in a grocery store parking lot (story below). The suspect in this case had been arrested for aggravated assault for threatening another person with two butcher knives. The judge kindly reduced the charge to disorderly conduct and probation. Several probation violations and arrests later, the suspect was finally serving time in jail until October 17th, when the judge credited him with time served and released him from jail.
The public defender representing the suspect in this case, filed a motion for a mental health evaluation, which the judge claims he never got. Regardless, the judge said the suspect only had two misdemeanor convictions and no indications of any violence. This, of course, flies in the face of common sense, as the court allowed him to plea down to a misdemeanor from the whole “threating people with butcher knives” incident.
If these convicted felons had been in prison on the day that these officers went to work, every one of them would be spending Christmas with their families.
Say a prayer for the quick and full recovery of Sgt. Courtney Gale. Work with your unions, state legislators, and citizen groups. We have got to convince our government to stop releasing these predators back into society.
Man had pulled knife before
Suspect in stabbing of officer once threatened neighbor
The man accused of stabbing a police officer nearly to death in a grocery store Tuesday threatened a neighbor with butcher knives two years ago and spent months in a state mental hospital.
And, just two months ago, Steven Anthony Eberhart’s own attorney asked a judge to order treatment, but the judge said he never got the paperwork.
Released from jail in October, Eberhart allegedly attacked off-duty Athens-Clarke police Sgt. Courtney Gale on Tuesday in the Alps Road Kroger, pinning the 31-year-old officer to the floor and stabbing her over and over until customers and the manager intervened.
Gale remained in critical condition Thursday night at St. Mary’s Hospital.
Eberhart is held without bail at the Clarke County Jail on charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, aggravated assault and felony obstruction of a police officer.
Two years ago, on Oct. 21, 2005, Eberhart held a large butcher knife in each hand when he went after a neighbor during an argument at the Parkview Homes public apartment complex, police said.
Eberhart pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and received 12 months of probation with the condition he submit to a mental evaluation and treatment, according to court documents.
He failed to report to his probation officer and a local mental health agency, Advantage Behavioral Health Services, according to a petition to revoke probation.
When Eberhart was arrested again in January 2006 for refusing to leave an Oconee Street soup kitchen, Clarke County State Court Judge Kent Lawrence tacked on another 12 months of probation and ordered him to continue mental health treatment.
Eberhardt didn’t comply, and in March 2006, Lawrence ordered sheriff’s deputies to take Eberhart to Georgia Regional Hospital in Augusta for a psychological evaluation and treatment.
He remained hospitalized until May 18 of this year.
Eberhart was arrested for another probation violation Aug. 6, and two months later, Lawrence gave Eberhart credit for time served and ordered him released from jail.
But Eberhart’s own attorney had asked that he receive a mental evaluation before jailers released him.
Lawrence says he never got that motion.
The attorney, public defender Benjamin Pearlman, filed a motion with the Clarke County Superior Court clerk’s office Aug. 17, asking Lawrence to order an evaluation and treatment at a state mental hospital.
Eberhart suffers some mental problems that could cause him to have a “delusional compulsion,” Pearlman said in the motion.
But Lawrence said he never got the request and ordered jailers to release Eberhart on Oct. 17.
“I was not aware that the motion for mental evaluation had been filed with the clerk of court,” Lawrence said Thursday.
Clarke County Superior Court Clerk Beverly Logan said she “has no explanation” why Lawrence never saw the request for a mental evaluation.
“When motions are filed, we place them in the judges’ baskets – that’s procedure,” she said.
Lawrence released Eberhart because the man had served his time in jail, he said, and the evaluation report from the state mental hospital said Eberhart didn’t pose any risk.
“There was nothing in the history of this man except for two misdemeanor convictions,” the judge said. “There was nothing to indicate that he was a threat.”
Though Gale’s condition has improved, she has a long way to go, Police Chief Jack Lumpkin said Thursday.
Gale lost a massive amount of blood, and doctors probably saved her leg through several surgeries on damaged arteries, according to Lumpkin, who said Gale’s condition had “improved.”
“There remains some serious concerns regarding the immense blood loss that Courtney experienced, but we have tremendous faith that she will also conquer that hurdle,” the police chief said in an e-mail to county employees. “She is slowly responding to physical stimulus. This could improve in the next hour, day, week or month. Keep her in your prayers.”
County employees and residents showed their support to the wounded officer by coming out in droves to donate blood, according to a representative of the American Red Cross Southern Region.
Blood drives are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 8 and 9 at the Athens-Clarke County Police Department on Lexington Road.
Anyone wanting to help defray the officer’s medical expenses can donate at any SunTrust Bank branch or send donations to the Courtney Gale Assistance Fund, SunTrust Bank, 1022 Prince Ave., Athens, GA 30606.