This week, a federal jury found that District of Columbia. police framed Donald E. Gates, an innocent man, for a 1981 rape and murder of a 21-year-old Georgetown University student. Gates, who is African American, was imprisoned for 27 years. Two days after the verdict, the city settled with Gates for $16.65 million in damages.
The trial determined that two D.C. homicide detectives,Ronald S. Taylor and Norman Brooks, both now retired, largely fabricated the confession Gates was supposed to have made to a police informant. The detectives also withheld other evidence from Gates’ defense attorney. You can read the whole horrible story here.
There are a couple of aspects of this story, and others like it, that I don’t understand at all.
One is this: why aren’t the two detectives going to prison? Their conduct has cost the city’s taxpayers eight figures in damages, it has already cost an innocent man the prime of his life, and what is their penalty? I would support capital punishment for police like these. Destroying a man’s life, breaching a public duty, shredding public trust, using the law for evil— few murders do so much damage. It makes no sense for there not to be life imprisonment, execution, something to announce to the community that police and law enforcement officers will and must be held to the highest standards, and suffer greatly when they fail to meet the lowest. From what I can tell, these evil detectives—that’s a fair description, isn’t it?— aren’t even going to lose their pensions. Continue reading