Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A REAL case of innocence: Cory Maye

If Sean Penn and Sister Helen Prejean can drag themselves away from crying over obviously guilty murderers like Tookie Williams, they might want to get agitated about the horrific injustice going on in Mississippi, where Cory Maye, a man who had the misfortune of sleeping next door to a drug raid, now sits on death row for shooting the first cop through his door.

The above link is to the original coverage of this outrage on TheAgitator.com Check Radley Balko's site often for updates.

Here's the gist of what happened, from Balko:

"Sometime in late 2001, Officer Ron Jones collected a tip from an anonymous informant that Jamie Smith, who lived opposite Maye in a duplex, was selling drugs out of his home. Jones passed the tip to the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force, a regional police agency in charge of carrying out drug raids in four surrounding counties. The task force asked Jones if he'd like to come along on the raid they'd be conducting as the result of his tip. He obliged.

On the night of December 26, the task force donned paramilitary gear, and conducted a drug raid on Smith's house. Unfortunately, they hadn't done their homework. The team didn't realize that the house was a duplex, and that Maye -- who had no relationship with Smith,-- rented out the other side with his girlfirend and 1-year-old daughter."

The police kicked the door in.

"Maye, fearing for his life and the safety of his daughter, fired at Jones, hitting him in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later."


Officer Jones, who was not part of the task force, led the raid. He is also the police chief's son. Maye was not the subject of the search; was not residing in the same residence as the person named in the warrant; has no criminal record; and no drugs were found in his home.

Now Cory Maye is on death row in Mississippi.

Much of the blogosphere -- left, right, and center -- is outraged and is spreading the word on behalf of this poor guy. Let's join them.

Don't misunderstand: I'm a law and order guy. I support the police. I have no sympathy for criminals. But this is outrageous.

It's bad enough when no-knock raids in the middle of the night against suspected marijuana possession results in the death of a policeman or the death of a suspect. But for a man with no criminal record and no illegal drugs in his home to end up on death row because he feared for his life and the life of his 18 month-old child is beyond a miscarraige of justice; we're in the Twilight Zone of law enforcement here.

As someone who just qualified for my gun carry permit, and who keeps firearms at home for the protection of me and mine, I am more than a little uneasy with the late-night, no-knock, armed entry of a person's home to enforce laws against drug possession. I would hate to be that wrong address.

And why the middle of the night? They couldn't wait to pin him down until the original suspect got the munchies and headed off to the donut shop? This reminds me Janet "the butcher of Waco" Reno's slaughter at the Branch Davidian compound. The Waco police, showing good common sense, told the Feds they could arrest David Koresh (the object of the raid) when he jogged every morning. The Feds declined and chose a full frontal assault. [I can still remember Sen. Charles Schumer's smirk while the horrors of the raid were being recounted in testimony before congress].

A lot of the blogger posts on Cory Maye have mentioned "southern justice" or "Mississippi miscarraige," as if such things only, or more often, happen in the South. Mmm. I'm thinking of the numerous similar cock-ups in California, as well as the most egregious false imprisonment of the last thirty years, the Amiralt child molestation case in Mass. The Amiralts are still in prison, though virtually no one in Mass. doubts their innocence at this point.

Yankees do bad stuff, too.

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