Jury selection is underway in a trial involving a man accused of trying to murder a Miami-Dade police officer.
The accused is charged with attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer (LEO), which is punishable by life in prison.
The allegations against the accused are that he and his girlfriend were pulled over for a traffic violation by a Miami-Dade officer. The accused allegedly fled the scene of the traffic stop on foot
Shortly after fleeing, the accused allegedly returned to the scene of the traffic stop carrying a 30-pound chunk of cinderblock. The accused allegedly threw the chunk of cinderblock onto the head of the officer. The officer fell to the ground and was then repeatedly kicked by the accused.
The accused is charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Crimes against law enforcement officers, especially violent crimes, are taken seriously by prosecutors. This is due to a number of reasons.
First and foremost, prosecutors and police officers are both members of the law enforcement community. As colleagues, they work together on cases to ensure that those arrested are prosecuted. There is a sense among them that police and prosecutors are members of the same team, so when a police officer is the victim of a crime, the prosecutors will invest the time and resources necessary to secure a conviction.
Secondly, it is bad for the community in general for law enforcement officers to be seen as victims of crime. To send a strong message to the public, the State Attorney - an elected official - makes it a priority to prosecute violent offenses against police officers to the fullest extent of the law. This often means that no plea offers will be made and the maximum sentence allowable by law will be sought at sentencing.
Thirdly, there is pressure from the police unions and departments that help elect the State Attorney. This pressure also extends to the judge who also needs to get elected. During court hearings for those charged with serious crimes against police officers, it is not unusual to see the courtroom full of officers in uniform. This is not just to show support for the injured or deceased officer, this is to remind the judge and the prosecutors that the police departments are watching, and they are demanding justice.
For these reasons, cases involving violence against law enforcement officers almost always go to trial. This can be anything from a simple battery on a law enforcement officer (batt LEO) all the way to murder.
As far as this defendant is concerned, there is eyewitness testimony and DNA evidence that ties him to the scene of the crime. A conviction and life sentence is very likely.
Eric Matheny is a Miami and Broward criminal defense attorney.