Thursday, April 1, 2010

You gotta know when to fold 'em

This past Saturday night police in Bakersfield, California made a traffic stop in the parking lot of a Taco Bell. Another vehicle pulled in behind the police car. While one officer handled the original traffic stop, the other officer went to talk to the driver of the other vehicle. That officer smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage on the breath of the driver and asked the man for his driver's license. The man refused and began to roll up his window. The officer stuck his hand inside the open window and attempted to hit the automatic lock switch to open the door. The driver struck the officer's hand with his.

The officer ordered the driver out of the vehicle and then down to the ground. The driver refused to get on the ground but did place his hands behind his head. He was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest.

The driver in question? Arizona Cardinal linebacker Joey Porter.

On Wednesday, the Kern County District Attorney's Office announced that no charges would be filed against Mr. Porter because the prosecutor did not believe there was a reasonable likelihood that a jury would have found Joey Porter guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Now the prosecutor may be on to something. There were no bad driving facts alleged. There were no field sobriety tests conducted. There was no breath test nor a blood test. All the officer had was the smell of alcohol on the breath. With such scant evidence there is little reason to believe a panel of citizens would convict Mr. Porter of driving while intoxicated. Furthermore, without a lawful arrest (based on probable cause), the charge of resisting arrest is dead on arrival.

I don't know how much of this quick, and favorable, outcome had to do with Mr. Porter's celebrity and how much it had to do with a prosecutor carrying out his responsibility to see that justice is done. I would like to think it was the latter.

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