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Thread: Not Self Defense, Justice Rules

  1. #1
    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    The nitty gritty details are not in this account, but given that it was adjudicated a bad shoot, seems like only a little time for what was done.





    June 12, 2009


    Ex-Officer Gets Prison Time for Shooting, but Is Free on Appeal


    By COLIN MOYNIHAN
    A former police officer convicted of fatally shooting an unarmed drunken driver during a chaotic late-night confrontation in 2007 was sentenced to one to three years in prison on Thursday.

    The former officer, Rafael Lora, faced a maximum of 15 years in prison after his conviction in a nonjury trial in April by Justice Margaret L. Clancy of State Supreme Court in the Bronx. Mr. Lora, who was off duty, said he shot the driver, Fermin Arzu, 41, who had just crashed a minivan, in self-defense.

    Calling the case puzzling and tragic, Justice Clancy discussed the difficulty of balancing the interests of justice when presented with an officer who had “no malicious criminal intent,” but who had “incomprehensibly fired his gun five times.”

    During the hearing, Mr. Arzu’s relatives sat in a packed courtroom in the Bronx Hall of Justice, along with reporters, prosecutors, police officers and officials from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Before the sentencing, both Mr. Arzu’s daughter and Mr. Lora, 39, made emotional pleas for fairness to Justice Clancy.

    “I want you to give Lora prison time,” the daughter, Katherine Arzu, 22, told the judge in a faltering voice, adding that such a sentence would bring her family a measure of peace.

    A few minutes later, Mr. Lora, who was fired from the Police Department shortly after his conviction, asked the judge for clemency. His hands trembled as he read from a piece of paper and wiped his eyes with a handkerchief, expressing regret over his actions and their consequences, both for his victim and for himself.

    “I’m truly sorry for their loss, and my prayers are with them,” he said of Mr. Arzu’s family. “I have lost everything due to this case.”

    After the sentencing, Mr. Lora’s lawyer, Stuart London, said he would appeal the guilty verdict. Justice Clancy ruled that Mr. Lora could remain free on $50,000 bail until that process was finished.

    The case began May 18, 2007, when Mr. Arzu, a building porter and musician from Honduras with a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit, crossed paths with Mr. Lora, a Marine Corps veteran who had never fired his service weapon.

    Mr. Arzu, driving a red Nissan minivan in the Longwood section of the Bronx, sideswiped parked cars on Hewitt Place, near Longwood Avenue, then rolled to stop at a corner with his engine still running.

    Mr. Lora, emerged from his home nearby wearing civilian clothes but carrying a badge and a pistol, and asked Mr. Arzu for his driver’s license and registration. As Mr. Arzu reached toward the glove compartment, prosecutors said Mr. Lora fired five times in 1.2 seconds. A bullet pierced Mr. Arzu’s heart, and the van rolled forward, striking another car, a hydrant and a utility pole before bursting into flames.

    During his trial, Mr. Lora testified that Mr. Arzu had tried to close the van door, pinning him to the side of the vehicle while driving off and leaving him no option but to fire his pistol in self-defense.

    Justice Clancy said during the sentencing that she was unconvinced that Mr. Lora had fired in self-defense, concluding instead that he had acted recklessly.

    Mr. London, Mr. Lora’s lawyer, told reporters outside the courtroom: “I think this case could send a horrible message to New York City police officers. I’m worried that it sends a message to officers not to take action if you’re off duty.”

    But Sanford Rubenstein, a lawyer representing Mr. Arzu’s family, said he hoped the sentence would express a different message, saying, “while acting as a police officer, if you kill someone recklessly, you will go to jail.”

    Standing next to him, Ms. Arzu, the victim’s daughter, nodded.

    “I believe that justice was served for me and my family,” she said. “Life is going to be a little better.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/ny...l?ref=nyregion


  2. #2
    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    How does a purely reactive justice system ever "make life better"? Just out of curiosity.

  3. #3
    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    marshaul wrote:
    Standing next to him, Ms. Arzu, the victim’s daughter, nodded.

    “I believe that justice was served for me and my family,” she said. “Life is going to be a little better.”
    How does a purely reactive justice system ever "make life better"? Just out of curiosity.
    It's about resolution.

    As you suggest, from one perspective it ain't justice.

    Here's another question: How could a justice system in our American society and culture ever be anything other than "reactive?"

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    It couldn't. I was just laughing at the woman's remark.

  5. #5
    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    marshaul wrote:
    It couldn't. I was just laughing at the woman's remark.
    Ahh, I didn't. It seemed like a reasonable statement to me. Her father got plugged five times by a maniac with a gun when he didn't have to do it. So, from her perspective, it makes sense, I think. She wanted justice. I have sympathy for her.

    And I think Lora's attorney did a heck of a job.

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    marshaul wrote:
    How does a purely reactive justice system ever "make life better"? Just out of curiosity.
    I don't followyour remark at all. Are you saying that it wouldn't make any difference to you if he had been found guilty or innocent if it was your Father thathad beenkilled?



  7. #7
    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    Well, I wonder how many private citizens would have ended up shooting this guy?

    It seems to me yet another example of police itchy-trigger-finger syndrome.

    This is a problem beyond individual action and choice. Therefore, reactive justice is not a solution, and is nothing more than a band-aid for a bigger, potentially addressable problem.

    It's one thing when its a criminal, but this was a cop. And that very justice system the woman is thanking for "making life better" has a large share of the blame for destroying Officer Friendly in his entirety and replacing him with Officer Tazenshoot.

    I guess I didn't really have a point, I was just struck by a sense of irony at her remark.

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