June 16, 2003
Former HPD Captain Mark Aguirre was acquitted on all counts of official oppression stemming from the botched K-Mart Kiddie Roundup raid last August.
Forewoman Elaine Sayers said the jury, which began deliberating Friday, was unable to find evidence Aguirre tried to arrest anyone illegally.
"It was very hard," she said. "In reading the charges, we had to show intent on his part to make an illegal arrest."
I guess the jury decided that indifference - and I do believe Aguirre was at best only slightly concerned about who got arrested - is not the same as intent, a conclusion that I find defensible. This pretty much wraps up everything except for the pending lawsuits - the only thing stupider than going ahead with the trial of Sgt. Ken Wenzel was the previous trial of Chief C.O. "BAMF" Bradford for reckless cussing. Of course, this is Chuck Rosenthal we're talking about, so don't count on anything just yet.
Aguirre was mostly classy in his triumph, though he couldn't help taking a quick victory lap:
Asked about the next step in his life, Aguirre quipped, "I'm gonna run for mayor. I want to fix potholes."
Heh. Better hold on to the euphoria, those civil trials won't be nearly as much fun.
UPDATE: Ginger and the Chronicle make their assessments of the verdict. I do think it was appropriate for Aguirre to get fired, but I can't disagree with the Chron's contention that there needs to be more firings at higher levels.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 16, 2003 to K-Mart Kiddie Roundup
I hadn't followed the case too closely apparently as a) I was shocked at the verdict until b) I saw it was a criminal trial. That's a pretty tough standard to prove criminal intent and in hindsight, it should have been expected that he'd get off. I think even a civil suit might be tough. Bottom line is that a cop can pretty much round up anyone in this situation for loitering (although the Sonic incidents might prove otherwise). After the initial incident itself, I think it'll still be a slow crawl to justice for some on this. As a non-involved person on this incident (although I live 5 miles away, therefore perhaps I was loitering in my living room), the firing of Aguirre did the bulk of the corrective action in my eyes. We'll see if any of the civil suits prove differently.
Civil suits have a much lower burden of proof than criminal cases. "Indifference" may well be enough for a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs. It is possible, though, that the acquittals will help the city and Aguirre defend themselves by claiming there were no criminal misdeeds by the police. Hey, wait a minute - there's a conspiracy theory in there somewhere...
Indifference on the part of Aguirre may not be enough to convict here, but generalized recklessness on the part of the HPD during the raid is likely to be what the civil suits will turn on.
This is still going to cost millions.
Man, how can an educated person get so far off base. Bradford was NOT charged with cussing. He was charged for lieing about it during an official proceeding (namely a civill service commission abritration hearing.) He lied. Does not matter what he lied about, he lied. Of course, you probably say that Clinton was indicted for sex, too.