Patterico's Pontifications

7/30/2006

Two-Second Investigation

Filed under: Buffoons,Crime,General — Patterico @ 9:06 am

The L.A. Times reports:

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s civilian oversight office said Saturday that it will investigate whether authorities gave Mel Gibson preferential treatment when he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and tried to cover up alleged offensive comments and behavior by one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures.

I can announce that I have just completed my own investigation, which took me about two seconds. The results are in: Gibson got preferential treatment.

I spent my two-second investigation recalling the details of yesterday’s post on Gibson, which set forth the contents of police reports that redacted material embarrassing to Gibson. (The Times has confirmed with a confidential source that the documents linked to were indeed accurate.) Oh — and Lee Baca also personally ordered Gibson’s booking photo to be withheld from the media, something which law enforcement generally does not do.

I’ll be publishing the results of my investigation in about four mon — oh, wait. I just did.

Bonus moronic comments from Lee Baca below the fold.

P.S. Lee Baca needs to learn to keep his mouth closed when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about:

Baca on Saturday defended the way his department handled the case and said the actor’s behavior after his arrest is not relevant to the criminal charges.

Uh, why don’t you leave that to the professionals, Lee? Gibson’s behavior throughout the incident is very relevant. And if charges of resisting arrest are filed, then they’re especially relevant.

That’s a real possibility. According to the report, Gibson bolted from the deputies and ran to his vehicle, saying: “I’m not going to get into your [illegible — car?].”

Relevant? You be the judge. But for God’s sake, don’t let Lee Baca be the judge. He doesn’t think anything Gibson said is pertinent — not that this opinion is based on any actual knowledge of the arrest report’s contents:

Baca said he has not seen the official arrest report and would not comment on what it contained.

“People say stupid things when they are drunk, and they later regret it,” Baca said. “You don’t convict him on what he said. People aren’t convicted for saying stupid things.”

Yeah, because if they were, Lee Baca might be locked up right now.

19 Responses to “Two-Second Investigation”

  1. […] Now, I’m perfectly willing to believe that Haq’s buddies and family friends are baffled by his actions. That’s a pretty common reaction among those close to people who commit a horrific crime. But I’m not sure I buy the idea that law enforcement would claim to be perplexed by his motivations. The law enforcement authorities who supposed say this are not identified. I’d sure like to know who they are, so I can call them up myself and ask them what the big mystery is. Maybe they’re like L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca, mouthing off to the press without having read the police reports. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times Editors: “We Just Can’t Solve the Mystery of Why that Muslim Guy Shot at All Those Jews” (421107)

  2. Wait a minute. He was drinking Tequila?

    That would explain him going El Loco. Tequila is God’s way of telling you He wants you to get beat up and/or arrested.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  3. OK, if this is how the Sheriff’s Department is handling this issue, you have a beef …. with them. Gibson’s behavior (post hangover, at least) remains so far above the dismal average for Wholly – odd that I STILL find it hard to get really upset.

    What I would LIKE to hear out of the Sheriff’s Office is something like this:

    ‘A spokesman for the Sheriff’s office today admitted that concealing the details of the scurrilous language used by actor Mel Gibson during his arrest for drunk driving constitutes special treatment. “We are correcting this by instituting a new policy whereby we will do the same for EVERYONE who is arrested under embarrassing circumstances.” the spokesman said, “we have come to the realization that we are a police force, not a clipping service for lazy, bottom feeding gossip writers. From now on, if you want to know what somebody said when they were arrested, do some legwork and find some witnesses who can legally talk about it.”

    C. S. P. Schofield (c1cf21)

  4. Patterico, don’t you recognize that there might be a difference between a coverup and just being nice to a guy that got drunk and acted like an idiot? Police officers have to make decisions all the time about what goes into their official report and what doesn’t. Isn’t it reasonable for an officer to decide that something is probably not relevant to a case and would be embarrasing to the offender and so to leave it out?

    Mel Gibson, contra your last post, is special. Your average Shmoe gets drunk and does stupid things, and no one knows about it except the police involved. Gibson gets drunk and does something stupid and everyone knows about it. Mug shots for most people will never be seen. Even if the case is unusual enough that the mug shots end up in the paper, they will be a short term, limited-scope embarrassment. For Mel Gibson, the mug shots will be all over the world in hours, and they will follow him for the rest of his life. There is a huge difference in impact here, and I think it’s right for the Sheriff to take that into account.

    Doc Rampage (49c312)

  5. I second comments #’s 3 and 4.

    Lee Baca could have meant that in this instance, stupid and embarrassing comments were not relevant to the criminal charges, as they did not include material that would have made them relevant.

    Were those quotes from Baca obtained by watching a video interview? If they were obtained from a LATimes story, the accuracy…..

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  6. Doc —

    No, it’s not reasonable for a cop to decide what’s relevant to a case and leave out embarassing admissions or statements for his report.

    When reviewing a case for filing, anything said by the suspect is of interest.

    Mike Lief (e9d57e)

  7. “People say stupid things when they are drunk, and they later regret it,” Baca said. “You don’t convict him on what he said. People aren’t convicted for saying stupid things.”

    In my experience, at least as often as not, people are convicted for saying stupid things. I prosecute DUIs for a living. Most of the time, the stupid shit people say during the stop or during the arrest are what gets me my conviction.

    I have the greatest respect for police, but the good ones know better than to think that they are any judge of what is relevant. I don’t tell them what kind of control hold to use taking down a suspect, or the best way to run a chase. Likewise, they have no business deciding what I need to know to prosecute. When it comes to anything the defendnat said, I want every goddamn word written down verbatim, and I’ll decide what’s relevant to my prosecution. Aside from the fact that it’s likely going to be important to my case, anything they don’t put in their report can easily be used to hang the officers on cross-examination.

    Comments like #4 above are understandable — but only from someone who has no experience whatsoever with law enforcement.

    Spoons (1561ee)

  8. “Isn’t it reasonable for an officer to decide that something is probably not relevant to a case and would be embarrasing to the offender and so to leave it out?”

    Occasionally, very occasionally this might be true. But not in a driving under the influence and possibly resisting arrest case in which the drunken behavior (including belligerant remarks) are highly relevant to prove the case.

    And, more importantly, I’ve never heard of a case in which the report was altered after it had already been written (which the story seems to imply was done here – either by redaction or by rewriting the report). The only cases I’ve seen in which this was done I was prosecuting the police officer for filing a false police report. This is highly irregular behavior from a police department.

    C Student (e7e5b5)

  9. I think Patterico has it right. We can’t defend the indefensable. The differerence here is that Gibson took acountability and issued an immediate staement, instead of going into a clinic(ala Kennedy).

    Rooster (aa1065)

  10. Let’s consider where the really favorable treatment may occur — in the plea bargaining in this case. A .12% BAC is high enough to secure a conviction, the legal limit being .08% and Malibu bein far enough away from recent drinking spots to negate a “rising” defense. It is outside of the range where a “wet reckless” would be offered. Gibson apparently has a legit license and no priors within the period. There was no accident and no passengers in the car. The only “bad driving” was not weaving or going over the center divider but only speeding.

    But what speeding it is! The police supposedly estimate him at 40 mph over the speed limit, more than enough to charge the enhancement under 23582 of the Vehicle Code. (Query — Does the section’s language “and in a manner prohibited by Section 23103″ require ADDITIONAL disregard for safety beyond the speed? Subsection (d) seems to require such additional aggravation.) If this enhancement is alleged and pled to, the 60-day jail sentence kicks in.

    Now consider the venue — the Malibu Muncipal Court, where this case will undoubtedly go to Judge Mira. Malibu is no stranger to celebrity, obviously. But DUIs are a little different there. Whereas in most areas of the county with all of the traffic a DUI might cause a fender-bender, with its hairpin canyon passages and, as here, the narrow PCH with cars entering from narrow sidestreets and crossing over, in the Malibu jurisdiction DUIs often cost lives. Especially at 1:30 a.m. going 85 or more.

    Keep track of this one. Will the enhancement be alleged? Will the 148 be charged? My bet: Ultimately Mel doesn’t do a day of actual jail.

    nosh (d8da01)

  11. (Query — Does the section’s language “and in a manner prohibited by Section 23103″ require ADDITIONAL disregard for safety beyond the speed? Subsection (d) seems to require such additional aggravation.)

    I believe it does. So if the 60-day enhancement is not alleged, that seems appropriate, based on what I know.

    As for the 148 — from the police report, it sounds like it’s there. But I haven’t seen the entire police report, or spoken to the deputies involved. I am not going to second-guess the situation without all the facts, but based on what I know, a 148 could be charged.

    Could it be pled out in a plea bargain? Sure. If this is a 1st-time, is jail time mandatory? Nah.

    Let’s not treat the guy differently — either less *or* more harshly than he’d be treated were he not a celebrity. And let’s not jump to conclusions without all the facts.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  12. First, if he were not a celebrity, both the 148 and the speed enhancement would be charged, if for no other reason than to leverage the prosecution’s position during plea negotiations.

    Second, if he were not a celebrity and ran from the sheriff deputies, he would be wearing some of PCH on his face and forehead and his booking photo would be missing a couple of teeth.

    Finally, if he were not a celebrity and drove at 80+, ran from the officers, and engaged in his tirade, it is likely that he wouldn’t have been cited out from Lost Hills but would have been escorted care of the LASD to the in-custody arraignment lock-up for a Friday appearance.

    nosh (d8da01)

  13. First, if he were not a celebrity, both the 148 and the speed enhancement would be charged, if for no other reason than to leverage the prosecution’s position during plea negotiations.

    I wouldn’t charge the speed enhancement based on what I know. And I wouldn’t file charges to leverage the prosecution’s position.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  14. Well, clearly you law-talking-guys no more about this than I do. If the standard of police reports is really to quote everything the arrestee said, and if that standard is actually followed, and if it really is unusual to edit the original report, then this may be special treatment for Gibson. Understandable special treatment, though.

    I’m a big believer in privacy. What he said at the time of the arrest should (I’m speaking morally, not legally) be private unless it is actually used as evidence in court. Heck if we are talking “should”, then newpapers should not report a story that humiliate someone if the story is not genuinely important. And I should be married to Jessica Alba.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  15. Don’t forget, without his celebrity status, it wouldn’t be big news. And he wouldn’t be able to hire high-priced attorneys to fight whatever charges could be thrown at him, which could, potentially, end up costing the PD way more than the usual case.

    sharon (03e82c)

  16. I retired from the LASD after 34 years, so I know something about Baca. I don’t consider him to be a good Sheriff and think he skirts the edges of ethics more than occasionally.

    There is no doubt that he ordered the report changed and will now go into full CYA mode since it has been discovered. He will probably find a scapegoat in a subordinate and let them take the heat.

    Let’s see how “independent” the Office of Independent Review actually is. I’m not holding my breath.

    don bear (9e6811)

  17. OK, hold it. Halt. Stop.

    Mel Gibson drove drunk, got caught driving drunk, and said some nasty things. Since, as luck would have it, nobody was hurt, why do we give a good goddamn?

    First off, I’m sick to death of taking drunk driving “seriously”. We’re great ones for taking issues “seriously” without actually doing a whole heck of a lot about them. In over 90% of all injuries involving drunk driving , the blood alcohol level of the drunk is well over the old standard. In a huge majority of fatalities involving drunk driving the drunk already has multiple convictions related to drunk driving, including at least one instance of property damage or injury. Yet MADD, the biggest anti-drunk driving lobby there is, is for lowering the blood alcohol level BEFORE making DUI an automatic loss of license. That’s their big push. One might suspect them of either Prohibitionist leanings, or of not wanting to actually take on something difficult.

    If Gibson loses his license, good. He’ll be able to work around it, but it will be a reasonable punishment. If he doesn’t, can we really call it favoritism, in view of how few do?

    As for the rest of it, who cares?

    If Gibson’s remarks cause him career trouble, it will not be because Whooly-Odd is genuinely shocked at what he said. Hell, based on the support most Lefty film types offer trendy Islamic causes, it ought to boost Gibson’s popularity with his fellows. No, if Gibson’s mouth causes him trouble over this it will be as an excuse – the real reason being that he DARED to make a powerful and successful deeply Christian film that Wholly-Odd doesn’t understand and despises.

    THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST upset Wholly-Odd, badly. The Christian PASSION is the most difficult of Christian messages: that God’s Word, as passed through His Son, is so disturbing that Christ’s own people had a hand in killing him. Wholly-Odd used how the Christian Church has sometimes misused that message as a pretext to oppress Jews as an excuse to not like it. They would be FAR happier with the idea that Christ was killed exclusively by the Romans – foreign overlords with an abiding interest in quiet, and far less interest in justice. That would fit well with Wholly-Odd’s trendy socialism-lite, social-justice beliefs. They didn’t want to hear that salvation is hard. They also didn’t want to admit that the Christians they despise would go to a difficult film in two dead languages, with subtitles, because it would mean that a lot of their excuses for their own lousy box-office were so much swill. If Gibson’s drunken ravings get him in trouble, it will be because of that, not because of the content of what he said while plastered.

    I’ll bet there are at least a dozen incidents from that same night involving actual injury, in which the guilty party is going to get a slap on the wrist, for a host of PC bullsh*t reasons. Yet we aren’t talking about them, we’re talking about an actor’s drunken guttermouth. Foo.

    Gibson can act and direct well. He doesn’t, as far as a deeply biased press could discover, donate money to Nazi causes or beat Jews personally. Plenty of idiots in Wholly-Odd do give money to trendy causes that actually harm people, and they don’t get ostracized for it. If the cops fumbled how they dealt with him, considering no injury or even property damage was involved, I can’t bring myself to care.

    C. S. P. Schofield (c1cf21)

  18. In over 90% of all injuries involving drunk driving , the blood alcohol level of the drunk is well over the old standard. In a huge majority of fatalities involving drunk driving the drunk already has multiple convictions related to drunk driving, including at least one instance of property damage or injury.

    Do you have cites or links for these assertions?

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  19. Well, all of the ducks seem to be falling in line. Gibson is trying to exhibit contrition. The oversight commission is backing up the Sheriffs in their “crime enforcement” duty. The cable pundits are beginning to opine that he’s paying a “far greater price” than an anonymous person would.

    So the speed enhancement, which would be routinely charged by the City Attorney who handles far more DUI cases than the DA in LA County, will not be charged. The 148 will be swept under the rug because everything was “routine.” The officer has been quoted saying he has nothing against the defendant. And the Sheriff needs to be protected against aggressive discovery so all of this will result as a simple DUI conviction with no time.

    Does Gibson face annoyance, legal bills, and harm to his career? All well-deserved. Is he being granted favoritism? Not compared to other rich, famous, and influential people.

    nosh (d8da01)


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