Yesterday we learned that hate crime charges have been filed against the four degenerates who tortured a Trump supporter while yelling: “F**k Donald Trump! F**k white people!” I previously discussed this incident here and here.
Here are photos of the thugs (click the link if it does not show in the embed):
— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) January 5, 2017
To me, the main takeaway from these charges is that the police should not have shot off their mouths publicly about their personal opinions regarding a criminal case.
The Illinois hate crimes statute applies when an assault or other listed crimes are committed “by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability” of the victim. And yet, despite one of the attackers clearly saying: “F**k white people!” as he, a black man, attacked a white man, the police were very concerned to undercut any argument that race played a role:
Chicago police say they don’t believe a man beaten in an assault broadcast live on Facebook was targeted because he was white.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday morning that charges are expected soon against four black suspects. Guglielmi says the suspects made “terrible racist statements” during the attack, but that investigators believe the victim was targeted because he has special needs, not because of his race.
These ill-advised statements weaken an argument that prosecutors would almost certainly want to use at the trial: that race (perhaps in addition to mental disability) was a motivating factor, based on the defendants’ own statements. It’s obvious that in a case like this, the video will serve as one of the most crucial pieces of evidence. When the mental state of the defendants is a key issue, the things they say on the video will count among the most powerful evidence of that mental state. I have not watched the entire video and probably will not, but at no point did I hear the suspects yell “F**k the mentally disabled!” or anything to that effect.
But they did yell “F**k white people!”
Now, when a prosecutor tries to argue the significance of that statement at trial, defense attorneys will find a way to bring up the public comments by the police spokesmen saying race is not what prompted the attack. Those comments are probably legally inadmissible. But the defense attorneys will find some way to get those comments before the jurors, properly or improperly — provided that the jurors have not already heard the comments on TV, or read them in the papers.
If I were the prosecutor on that case (and obviously I am not, and obviously I am speaking in my personal capacity here), I would be dressing down these cops. Fortunately for me, I have never worked with cops that would do something this dumb.
The Chicago cops do not appear to have learned their lesson, though.
Despite the comments about the president-elect, which prompted some online to refer to it as footage of a Trump supporter being attacked, police say there are no indications the attack was motivated by anything involving Trump.
“We have no evidence to suggest that the escalation of the attack was prompted by the President-elect or how the victim voted,” Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman, said in an email Thursday. “It certainly was part of the reprehensible comments but not what prompted the assault.”
How this guy can be so damned sure, I have no idea. But these comments further undercut the notion that the statements on the video are solid evidence of the defendants’ state of mind, and thus serve to further sabotage an argument that the crimes were motivated by race.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. And totally unnecessary.