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http://savannahnow.com/node/296193
NO MAN is above the law, even those who enforce it.

For that reason, Savannah authorities charged a veteran Savannah-Chatham County police officer with felony murder in a fatal shooting Wednesday afternoon on the city's eastside.

They had no choice based on the evidence presented thus far.

The officer, Antonio Taharka, shot Anthony Smashum, 41, twice - once in the leg and a second time in the back - during a foot chase, police said. Smashum was unarmed and didn't attack or threaten the officer. He was trying to get away when he was shot and killed, an investigation showed.

Running from a police officer is extremely stupid - not to mention a crime if someone is trying to avoid arrest. And Smashum, who has a rape conviction on his long rap sheet, is no angel.

But that's insufficient justification to use deadly force.

It would be a different story had Smashum, who stood 5-foot-11 and weighed about 245 pounds, made a move on the slightly built officer. But that apparently didn't happen.

Indeed, the shooting as reported makes little sense.

Smashum ran from officers who saw him about 4 p.m. Wednesday near a convenience store at 39th Street and Waters Avenue. That's an area plagued by gang and drug violence, and where police have focused considerable attention in a special anti-crime operation tagged "Raging Waters."

Smashum was released from prison last September, records show. Officer Taharka shot Smashum in the course of trying to arrest him on charges of probation violation and for failure to register as a sex offender.

Taharka is an eight-year veteran with no record of disciplinary problems. Instead, he's closer to a model officer.

He's known in the community as someone who does his job and has earned the respect of many citizens. Some of them were stunned - even outraged - that he has been charged with a felony.

Such a reaction is understandable. However, investigators and prosecutors must often make difficult decisions based on the facts and evidence at hand. They can't let emotions cloud their professional judgment.

This is one of those times.

Police officers do thankless work for insufficient pay. They are part of the thin blue line that separates law-abiding citizens from criminals who kill, rape, steal and sell drugs.

To see an officer - especially an officer with Taharka's reputation - being locked up is extremely painful.

But if authorities believe that someone has broken a law, they would be derelict not to enforce it. That goes for someone who wears a badge and someone who doesn't.

Police Chief Michael Berkow termed the murder charge "unprecedented." He also said the decision to charge the officer was reached reluctantly.

Perhaps additional evidence will surface that will affect this case as it goes through the system. It's also difficult to predict what a jury will do. An arrest isn't the same thing as guilt. Every accused person is presumed innocent - even an accused officer.

Given Savannah's crime woes and the public's desire to get dangerous criminals off the streets, the prospect of putting an officer on trial for murdering an ex-con poses a tough challenge for District Attorney Spencer Lawton Jr. But that comes later.

For now, a man is dead and a good officer sits in jail. That's a double tragedy.

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Investigators and prosecutors must often make difficult decisions based on the facts and evidence at hand... This is one of those times.
When this was reported the other night they said that they were struggling. I hope it's not the way it sounds here, another good LEO in a tight spot. But if it is it is good another BG off the street and a LEO that is not above the law, just like us.
 

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I was wondering how long it would take for this one to get posted here.

Like MP stated, I'll wait for more facts. I don't want to judge anyone based on a media report, but this one looks very bad. I have never attended or taught a firearms class in which such a scenario was not discussed.
 

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legacy38 said:
I was wondering how long it would take for this one to get posted here.

Like MP stated, I'll wait for more facts. I don't want to judge anyone based on a media report, but this one looks very bad. I have never attended or taught a firearms class in which such a scenario was not discussed.
It does look bad, but there is a hint that there may have been a struggle going on at the time. So, let's wait and see.
 

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Malum Prohibitum said:
legacy38 said:
I was wondering how long it would take for this one to get posted here.

Like MP stated, I'll wait for more facts. I don't want to judge anyone based on a media report, but this one looks very bad. I have never attended or taught a firearms class in which such a scenario was not discussed.
It does look bad, but there is a hint that there may have been a struggle going on at the time. So, let's wait and see.
I hope that is the case, but with them moving so fast to charge the officer it looks very, very bad for him.
 

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That is truly sad.

I still wish we could go back to the, "Police! Stop or I'll shoot!" days. I believe LEOs should be allowed to shoot scumbags who are running from them. Especially, a known scumbag like this one! Who had been identified by the officer and was being arrested for being a scumbag!

Yeah, yeah. I know. But, I still think it should be allowable. For one thing, it would certainly reduce the number of people who take off running... or driving.

If a cop is trying to arrest you and you know your ass is going to jail followed by several years in prison, what do you have to lose by running away... or driving?

So, they add another change against you.

So, it will run concurrently with the others.

So what?

I'd sure as hell take that very slight risk of longer incarceration against the chance I might just get away! :rant:
 

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Are there any updates on this one?
 

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Macktee said:
That is truly sad.

I still wish we could go back to the, "Police! Stop or I'll shoot!" days. I believe LEOs should be allowed to shoot scumbags who are running from them. Especially, a known scumbag like this one! Who had been identified by the officer and was being arrested for being a scumbag!

Yeah, yeah. I know. But, I still think it should be allowable. For one thing, it would certainly reduce the number of people who take off running... or driving.

If a cop is trying to arrest you and you know your ass is going to jail followed by several years in prison, what do you have to lose by running away... or driving?

So, they add another change against you.

So, it will run concurrently with the others.

So what?

I'd sure as hell take that very slight risk of longer incarceration against the chance I might just get away! :rant:
1) Cop stops someone open carrying at a not so public gathering.

2) Citizens asks, "Am I free to go?" While turning and briskly walking away.

3) Cop goes, "Bam!" Citizen dead. :cry:

4) Other cops arrive and document "perp" was armed. :shock:

5) First cop says, "The guy was trying to get away, after all he must have been bad, he was armed. I just wanted to go home tonight to my family." :roll:
 

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GAGunOwner said:
1) Cop stops someone open carrying at a not so public gathering.

2) Citizens asks, "Am I free to go?" While turning and briskly walking away.

3) Cop goes, "Bam!" Citizen dead. :cry:

4) Other cops arrive and document "perp" was armed. :shock:

5) First cop says, "The guy was trying to get away, after all he must have been bad, he was armed. I just wanted to go home tonight to my family." :roll:
Well, that is one solution to the open carry problem.
 

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Macktee said:
I still wish we could go back to the, "Police! Stop or I'll shoot!" days.
Those days were the fleeing felon rule. That is, this rule only applied if the officer had probable cause to arrest for a felony.
 

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Malum Prohibitum said:
GAGunOwner said:
1) Cop stops someone open carrying at a not so public gathering.

2) Citizens asks, "Am I free to go?" While turning and briskly walking away.

3) Cop goes, "Bam!" Citizen dead. :cry:

4) Other cops arrive and document "perp" was armed. :shock:

5) First cop says, "The guy was trying to get away, after all he must have been bad, he was armed. I just wanted to go home tonight to my family." :roll:
Well, that is one solution to the open carry problem.
lol
 

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UPDATE - http://new.savannahnow.com/node/399171

Grand jury indicts officer in May shooting

Savannah-Chatham police officer Antonio Franklin Taharka was indicted Wednesday on a voluntary-manslaughter charge stemming from a May shooting.

The Chatham County grand jury decided Taharka, 33, shot Anthony Smashum on May 30 while the victim was resisting arrest.

The same grand jurors rejected a more serious felony-murder charge that would have accused Taharka of killing Smashum during an aggravated assault.

A felony-murder conviction carries a mandatory life prison term. Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum 20 years in prison.

Taharka will make his first court appearance during a formal arraignment in Chatham County Superior Court, but no date has been scheduled.

It was the first indictment of a local police officer for an act of violence committed in the line of duty in recent memory.

Taharka, an eight-year veteran of the force, shot Smashum, 41, twice with his service weapon during a foot chase.

The shooting occurred after a brief scuffle with Taharka as he and two other officers chased the victim, Detective Keith Dennis testified at a bond hearing.

Police said Smashum attempted to escape into a yard of a private home and climbed a fence in the 1100 block of East 37th Lane before he was shot.

Taharka remains on administrative leave with pay.

He also remains free on a $25,000 bond set by Chatham County Superior Court Judge Louisa Abbot.

As a special condition, Taharka cannot possess a weapon.

The bond was set on the original charge of felony murder by aggravated assault, the charge the grand jury rejected Wednesday.

Lead defense attorney Alex Zipperer III said Wednesday that his client gave a statement to the grand jury.

Because the defendant is a police officer charged with misconduct in the line of duty, he was permitted by law to appear before the grand jury.

Zipperer said he also appeared before the panel, but, by law, was not allowed to speak.

Chief Assistant District Attorney David Lock presented the case, using Detective Dennis as his main witness.

Grand jurors determined that Taharka caused Smashum's death "while acting solely as the result of a sudden, violent and irresistible passion."

That passion resulted from Smashum's resisting arrest and "from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person," the indictment read.

Officers were trying to arrest Smashum, who had a felony record, for violating probation.

Dennis, testifying before Abbot, said officers chased Smashum, with Taharka running ahead of the other officers.

By the time Star Cpl. Angela Grant, who was about 10 feet behind, arrived at the spot where Smashum had climbed a fence, Dennis said, the shots had been fired.
 

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Peace Officers

Peace Officers charged with doing crimes on the job or related to their duties have a special right to attend the Grand Jury presentment of their case, and they can make a sworn statement to the Grand Jury before that body votes on the proposed indictment. That's probably why although the prosecution was seeking murder charges, the G.J. only came back with manslaughter.
 

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Macktee said:
That is truly sad.

I still wish we could go back to the, "Police! Stop or I'll shoot!" days. I believe LEOs should be allowed to shoot scumbags who are running from them. Especially, a known scumbag like this one! Who had been identified by the officer and was being arrested for being a scumbag!

Yeah, yeah. I know. But, I still think it should be allowable. For one thing, it would certainly reduce the number of people who take off running... or driving.

If a cop is trying to arrest you and you know your ass is going to jail followed by several years in prison, what do you have to lose by running away... or driving?

So, they add another change against you.

So, it will run concurrently with the others.

So what?

I'd sure as hell take that very slight risk of longer incarceration against the chance I might just get away! :rant:
I agree with the driving off. I think at the point the car takes off the police have all right to use force to stop a vehicle asap. Even if it means deadly force. That will make the driver think twice about trying to run from a cop to get out of a speeding ticket and endanger everyone around him.
 

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Macktee said:
That is truly sad.

I still wish we could go back to the, "Police! Stop or I'll shoot!" days. I believe LEOs should be allowed to shoot scumbags who are running from them. Especially, a known scumbag like this one! Who had been identified by the officer and was being arrested for being a scumbag!

Yeah, yeah. I know. But, I still think it should be allowable. For one thing, it would certainly reduce the number of people who take off running... or driving.

If a cop is trying to arrest you and you know your ass is going to jail followed by several years in prison, what do you have to lose by running away... or driving?

So, they add another change against you.

So, it will run concurrently with the others.

So what?

I'd sure as hell take that very slight risk of longer incarceration against the chance I might just get away! :rant:
Putting police in the role of judge, jury, and executioner is nowhere near the answer to this problem.

When I was an officer, we'd have people that routinely would spot our vehicles and take off running. Either they had done something wrong we were unaware of, or they just wanted to see if we'd chase them. If I saw somebody behind a business at 2am, and he bolts and I give chase, should I be able to cap his ass? What if he's the business owner working late, and thinks I've come about his late child support payment?

Running away from a cop should never be a death sentence.
 

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blind_shake said:
I agree with the driving off. I think at the point the car takes off the police have all right to use force to stop a vehicle asap. Even if it means deadly force. That will make the driver think twice about trying to run from a cop to get out of a speeding ticket and endanger everyone around him.
Good idea, we should kill as many people as possible over offenses whose penalties are a $100 fine, like speeding. If somebody is spotted littering and runs, we should kill them too. After all, they are showing a wild disregard for authority. Make people live in abject fear of the police, I say!

Do you have any respect at all for human life?

Bad guys run. Cops chase them. That's why we pay the cops. They don't get every one, and that's okay...we don't have to kill every one that might get away. That's the way to totalitarianism, folks.
 
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