Radley Balko Defends a Cop!

Radley Balko, as tough a critic of excesses by police officer as any journalist working, offers a plausible defense of former BART cop Johannes Mehserle.

Reason’s Radley Balko, as tough a critic of excesses by police officer as any journalist working, offers a plausible defense of former BART cop Johannes Mehserle, arguing that the “involuntary manslaughter verdict for Oscar Grant’s killer may not be popular, but it is appropriate.”

For background on the story, see “BART Cop Gets ‘Involuntary Manslaughter,’ Fed Investigation.”

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Herb says:

    Balko makes some good points, but “You’re not a murderer, just a really bad cop” is a really tepid defense.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Murder requires intent. One can make dangerous decisions out of fear — and thus be a bad cop — and not have the intent to kill.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    It’s not a defense, it’s a crime: he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter which is when one illegally kills someone by way of “a lawful though dangerous act, that is done in an unlawful manner or without due caution or circumspection.”

    Another example of involuntary manslaughter is the imperfect self-defense. Say, a man holds a knife up to you on the subway and demands your wallet. You reach for your wallet, but grab a gun and point. The criminal backs away with the knife in the area and you shoot him dead. If the jury doesn’t believe the killing was justified, that your belief that you were defending yourself was unreasonable, then they will find you guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

  4. Herb says:

    I meant……Balko’s not really defending a cop. He’s defending the concept of justice.

    (My previous comment was more of a dig at your headline….but I recognize it was typed with tongue firmly planted in cheek.)