A Bad Cop No Doughnut contributor notes:
By now most everyone is aware of the shooting of an innocent man in his home who the Sheriff’s Office said was shot by Deputy Richard Sylvester when he answered his door at 1:30am with a gun in his hand. This story got much coverage and today it was linked to at The Agitator. In the comments at the Agitator were multiple posts by user ‘Burgers Allday’ which I have pasted below.
Burgers Allday has a blog and appears to be a lawyer with much experience reading and analyzing police reports. His analysis of what the Lakeland Sheriff’s Office said and didn’t say along with their actions immediately after the shooting is chilling. The logic behind his arguments is straight forward, making clear several factors that point to misinformation designed to cover up the possibility that the man didn’t open his door and, even worse, the deputies may have busted it down. Factors like they replaced his door and removed the carpet from his home within 24 hours. Has anyone ever seen that happen at a homicide crime scene before?
The press and the feds need to take a very good look into this now, before it’s too late.
8 | Burgers Allday | July 19th, 2012 at 9:39 am
@ “make that two” link:
This case of Deputy Richard Sylvester slaying Eric Lee Scott is a really big deal, and I think it deserves a full length post by Popehatted Ken, or perhaps Mr. Balko himself.
I have some comments on this important case because I think the blogosphere commentary on this case is going in a bad direction. In the case, police (deputies, but they are a kind of police to me) encountered Scott in his own home with a gun pointed at them. Initially the police said that they announced before the door of Scott’s apartment opened. then, they changed the story and admitted that the policemen pounded on the door (at 1:30 am), but did NOT say who they were. When the door opened, revealing Scott, he was shot to death by Sylvester.
One area of dispute is whether Scott really had a gun in his hand, or whether the police planted it. That area of dispute is well-developed in the blogosphere, and I have nothing to add to that dispute.
Another area of dispute is whether Scott really pointed the gun at the deputies, or whether he merely had a gun in his hand, pointed down. Once again, that area of dispute is well-developed in the blogosphere, and I have nothing to add to that dispute.
Another theory is tht Scott was shot through the door by the deputies, and, once again, I have nothing to add on this possibility.
Here is where I have a concern:
The police statement that I red as quoted in several media sources does not say that Scott was the one that opened the door.
Rather, the quoted statement says that Scott answered the door, and that the deputies were pounding on the door when it opened. Here is the problem: almost every media source is interpreting this statement to mean that Scott opened the door (putatively while pointing a gun through the opening as the opening was created by Scott opening the door).
I suspect that the police statement is not being interpreted correctly. I think it is quite possible that the ‘pounding” of the deputies is what caused the door to open. In that case, it is quite plausible that Scott would have been pointing the gun at the deputies because it would mean that the door opened as he watched it being pounded by unknown parties who would not respond to his (presumptive) inquiries as to who was there (that is, the part of the police statement that says Scott “answered” the door). So, the lock breaks, the door swings open and Scott sees it is police and holds his fire — he is killed for this small courtesy.
Is that definitely what happened? No, we don’t have enough info to sy.
But the wording of the police statement makes me think it is the most likely thing. The police here have planted misleading seed, which is growing before my eyes into a mighty tree of dishonesty. eventually, if this thing about Scott being the one who opened the door is repeated enough times, it will become the truth (just like that oft-repeated saw about Mehserle mistaking his gun for an electroshock device).
Two final notes on my “breached door theory”:
- I think the reason that police didn’t come out and say that scott opened the door is that they are currently concerned that that would somehow prove to be a falsifiable proposition in the fullness of time. Later on, they will simply say that Scott opened it, after they are sure there are no credible witnesses.
- Supposedly they replaced the door later on the morning of the shooting. No ord on whether it was Deputy Sylvester’s department who replaced the door, or the investigating agency (called the FDLE). However, that replaced door contained critical evidence about whether it was breached, or, opened by Scott. This is the sort of thread that nobody will pick up on after it becomes “received wisdom” that Scott was the one who opened the door.
“Its gotta be Burgers!” ™
13 | Burgers Allday | July 19th, 2012 at 10:43 am
Wait, what? They replaced the door? Also, one of the comments to the article indicated that there was damage to the door, like it was forced open.
The “replaced the door” thing appeared as a blog comment in one of the early (circa July 15th) stories. However, the commentator did point out that in the tv coverage, the earliest shots of Scott’s unit had four bullet holes in the front door (an underexplored mystery in and of itself), but the later tv news shots showed an intact door.
This blog commentator said that they also replaced the carpet on Monday morning. I didn’t mention that because it isn’t corroborated by the tv news reports the way the door thing is. However, the carpet could have shown that Scott was away from the door when he was shot. It would be nice to know if the carpet was pulled and who pulled it. Of course, we would know that if the media had their act together, but they don’t. They just follow the popo lead and turn “we banged on the door and it opened” into — presto chango — Scott opened up the door for the unknown parties banging on it.
One piece of weirdness in this case is that the police story changed pretty drastically from “we did announce” to “we didn’t announce.” My theory is that there must be an audio tape out there that evidences a lack of announcement and the police decided not to bury that. But this has lead to other weirdness. For example, they released Sylvester’s name early on and then obviously tried to “pull it back” around the time they decided to admit that they hadn’t announced. I am not sure, but I think when the story was still that they had announced they were not trying to suggest that Scott opened the door. In other words, when they took the door down, I think, at that early stage, they might have been willing to admit that they breached (on an exigent circumstances / fresh pursuit theory). In that case, the supposed announcement would cover them (at least to their minds) despite the door breaking. Once they had to admit there was no announcement — well, that was real game changer. Now they have to say that Scott opened the door, which is what sets up the bizarre story that Scott opened up the door with his gun (rumored to be an Airsoft) sticking out of it, but not shooting that gun.
Another piece of weirdness is that Sheriff Borders is being really quiet, but his spokesperson Herrel is taking a really hard line. I think that will come back to hurt the popo’s here. Herrel sounds like he is very willing to liewink, wink You see that all the time in the comments at popo-boards, but not so much out of designated popo spokespersons.
All in all a fascinating case. I compulsively read everything about it that I could for hours yesterday.
18 | Burgers Allday | July 19th, 2012 at 11:02 am
“Eric Lee Scott” should have been –Andrew Lee Scott–.
I got him mixed up in my mind with the police shooting victim at the Sumerlin, NV Costco.