The Piercing Truth

This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes

Mar 2, 2008

Choices

Life is about choices - big and small, the fateful and the inconsequential. After an unspeakable tragedy, we spend a great deal of time examining the choices that led to a fateful event. Most of the time, we’re trying to lay blame or attempting understand events by playing “what if” or “connect the dots.” Each dot is a pivot where the choices made could have led to a very different outcome. Thought’s like “if I’d just left a few minutes earlier I would have avoided the accident” or “if we’d just noticed a large number of middle eastern exchange students taking flight lessons with no real interest in landing a plane” become obsessions.

The Elton John Richard II case is a perfect example of what happens when someone arrives at one of these pivot points and fails to recognize the predictable outcome of a simple choice. It’s only fitting that we examine some of those points – points where different choices could have led to a far less tragic outcome.

It all started years ago when Daniel Romero chose to involve himself in activity that could only be described as risky and one that ultimately led to his demise at the hands of a determined Marine. Make no mistake - Daniel Romero sealed his fate when he chose a life of larceny. His family argued at sentencing that Romero had helped people along the way - it's probably even true - but the simple fact is Romero chose to make stealing from others a part of his life.
(Sidebar)
Folks, armed robbery should be a dangerous occupation. One should certainly give serious consideration before deciding to go into the field. Societies' mistake is that we’ve created a system of laws, legal precedents, and administrative rules that serve to protect offenders and endanger the rest of us.

If you’ve ever wondered why we’ve got such a huge problem with auto-theft in the Albuquerque area the answer is simple – APD is not allowed to pursue a criminal that is fleeing in a stolen vehicle. The result is predictable, somewhere around 600 vehicles are stolen every month. More importantly, criminals know about the policy. So what do you think they do when an officer attempts to pull them over… what would you do?
(End Sidebar)
Perhaps Romero's worst choice and biggest mistake was to try and steal from a man who had the training and the determination to protect his property and his family. His last choice was to try and flee from justice and the detention that he rightly deserved.

Now take a look at the actions of Romero's victim. Yes, victim. There's no other way to describe a man who will be serving a two year prison sentence for making sure that Romero would never pose a threat to society again. Remember, Romero is dead today because he chose to flee from justice – that choice cost him his life.

From all accounts Richard made every attempt to take Romero into custody – repeatedly ordering Romero to stop and lay on the ground. If Richard had simply wanted to execute Romero it would have been far simpler to shoot him in his yard. Richard chose to protect his property, he chose to protect his family, and ultimately he chose to protect the rest of us.

There were other choices along the way... The DA chose to prosecute, the defense chose to enter a no contest plea, and the judge chose to sentence Richard to two years in prison and order him to pay the family $500 a month.

This is where we believe Judge Murdoch erred. The admission of guilt inherent to the no contest plea gave the judge a tremendous amount of discretion. Unlike Romero, Richard chose to remain at the scene, he chose to enter a plea accepting the consequences under the law, and he chose to face a judge without remorse, accepting the consequences of his actions.
(Sidebar)
Is it just us or does it seem strange to pay the family of the deceased (not victim) $500 a month for five years when they're at least partially responsible for the choices that Romero made? It's kind of like life insurance for thieves designed to replace the income lost from their ill-gotten gain. Talk about theft - Richard kept his Bronco and thanks to Judge Murdoch now has to pay the family of a thief enough to buy them one.
(End Sidebar)
Now Governor Bill Richardson faces a choice. Whether or not commute the sentence of a Marine whose only crime is serving justice by attempting to detain for prosecution a convicted criminal. We think the choice is an easy one. Commute the sentence to time served and drop the AFLAC for felons provision. Crime shouldn’t pay - not for the criminal not for the criminal’s family.

It's too bad that Romero ended up dead. But the truth is Romero's record of armed robbery indicated that his fate would more than likely have been the same even if he'd faced a less competent adversary. More importantly, it's hard to predict how many innocent victims Romero would have created along the way and how many bodies might have been left in his wake.

As a society we need to take a very long hard look at the laws governing administration of justice by civilians. We as a people have a right and a duty to do everything within our power to protect our families and our property from people who would take them from us unlawfully. If we truly want to be safe, we need to take part in our own protection. The Constitution guarantees us that right and there’s little doubt that the founding fathers intended that we play a role and take responsibility for our own safety.

In the meantime, we need to address the immediate concern of Elton John Richard II. Under the law he may be guilty of a crime (and has admitted as much), but to us he's a hero that made all of us just a little bit safer.

----- Post Script -----
We've seen a couple of references to the lack of remorse that Richard showed at his sentencing. Why should this be an issue at his sentencing? It seems to us that Mr. Richard faced his sentencing in the same manner as he faced a felon attempting to steal his property and flee... with clarity of thought and without emotion. Otherwise, Mr. Richard would have simply shot the offender in his yard and avoided a mile and a quarter run.

You need to ask yourself whether or not a police officer involved in the exact same sequence of events would be required to feel remorse. First of all, he would have never been prosecuted, but should he have felt remorse anyway? We'd say absolutely not.

Remember, there's right and wrong and then there's the law and they don't always overlap. Mr. Richard may have been guilty under the law but in our opinion, his actions were not wrong and completely justified. We applaud Mr. Richard for facing his sentence without pretense and without a false display of emotion even knowing that such a display would more than likely have reduced his sentence. That takes courage and the conviction that you did everything right and shouldn't be held against him.

The executive powers of pardon, clemency, and commutation were meant for cases like this. The founding fathers understood that the law is not always applicable and created a safety valve to be used by executives to right a wrong in specific cases where the law cannot or should not apply. Governor Richardson wields that power here in New Mexico - he should use it to right the wrong perpetrated by the courts in the name of a law that should not have been applied.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

So far I have been on the Judges side of this argument. Richard deserves jail time for chasing a man down and killing him, after the immediate threat was gone. Your post has been the only one that has come close to getting me to switch to the "let him go" side of things. I still don't think I am there yet, but miracles do happen. Thanks for a sane view. At least you didn't wrap the whole "war hero" thing into it either.

Cheers, Mi3ke

ched macquigg said...

This is one of the best posts that I have ever read.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Richard would not be where he is if two things happened. One had he shot Mr. Romero on his property and two if there was the least little amount of regret in chasing down Romero for over a quarter of a mile from the crime before shooting him when he spoke before the Judge. I agree that Romero was no where near saint hood and the way he was going never would be considered. However Mr. Richard was not living in a combat zone at the time and his actions went beyond protection of family and property. The threat was gone to Mr. Richard's family when Romero was running away and off the property.

posting anonymously to avoid retaliation by Romero's homies. said...

Richard has a right to protect himself, his family, his friends, and his neighbors.

He was protecting us all when he choose to give chase,

not to shoot the armed robber,

but to apprehend him. And if in that final struggle Romero chose to take a life rather than be apprehended,

he was shot to death in the public best interest.

Mr. Wolf said...

Despite all the gross and ill-informed assumptions being made this case boils down to this:

Does a victim have a right to pursue their offender without their efforts of pursuit being looked at in poor light?

The answer from the judiciary and DA seems to be no...victim's can't chase their offender down. I fear this case is going to set precedent to further limit victim's rights, law enforcement pursuit policy, and embolden criminals unless there is significant clarity on one's right to pursue an offender.

The legislature needs to address the act of fleeing from a crime with an enhancement measure. To me everything else is incidental to this aspect of the case.

Anonymous said...

You left out one piece of information. As Romero ran away he yelled at Richard that he would come back and kill his family. He then made a phone call and witnesses heard him say "I need you to come over here so we can *&#& this dude up", I believe the threat still existed!

Anonymous said...

When watching Mr. Richard he appeared to have little remorse, so I have small tendancy to agree with Murdock.

However; money to Romero's family? That's the "NOT MY HITO" mentality that has ruined NM. How many unknown crimes had Romero committed before his demise, and the wake of victims he left behind. He stalked that neighborhood specifically for a Bronco. Richard was a victim of Romero long before the incident. Just how long would it have been before Romero would have escalated to killing?

Richard's training and the circumstances got in the way of a logical decision, and the fact that Romero was a "fleeing felon". Richard needs some type of punishment. I would suggest some community service, despite the fact that he already did our community a great service.

Anonymous said...

The above post, you need to read case, richards family was never threatened, don't know where you got that from, I don't knw how I feel but you can be sure that if an APD Officer chased him, fired a single round at close range as the so called victim was climbing over a fence, we would have been fired on the spot. I would assume Richard was tired and shit head was getting away over the paseo fence so we can take it from there

Anonymous said...

The above post, you need to read case, richards family was never threatened, don't know where you got that from, I don't knw how I feel but you can be sure that if an APD Officer chased him, fired a single round at close range as the so called victim was climbing over a fence, we would have been fired on the spot. I would assume Richard was tired and shit head was getting away over the paseo fence so we can take it from there

Anonymous said...

When watching Mr. Richard he appeared to have little remorse, so I have small tendancy to agree with Murdock.

However; money to Romero's family? That's the "NOT MY HITO" mentality that has ruined NM. How many unknown crimes had Romero committed before his demise, and the wake of victims he left behind. He stalked that neighborhood specifically for a Bronco. Richard was a victim of Romero long before the incident. Just how long would it have been before Romero would have escalated to killing?

Richard's training and the circumstances got in the way of a logical decision, and the fact that Romero was a "fleeing felon". Richard needs some type of punishment. I would suggest some community service, despite the fact that he already did our community a great service.

March 3, 2008 9:59:00 AM MST

You forgot that he also served our country with honor...

Anonymous said...

OK so now we have another angle -- was ROmero climbing a fence and shot in the back or was the wound obviously in the front? And, what of the witnesses that stated Romero was turning and agressing again?

MinarchyNow said...

Happy as I am that this scumbag Romero is not only off the streets, but out of existence entirely, what Mr. Richard did was wrong. The laws governing the right to self defense do not allow us to be judge, jury, and executioner in this manner. You only have a right to use deadly force against another human being out of self defense, to protect an immediate threat to life, liberty, property, and family.

That being said, I hope the Gub'nor commutes Richard's sentence. I believe he has done "time" enough.

Anonymous said...

Romero was caught in the act. There was no doubt he was the offender. I believe there is an inherant risk in crime. He paid the ultimate price and I for one do not feel sorry for him. his decision caused his demise. It is a travisty to have to pay the family $500.00 a month! The Police cannot be everywhere and it is the duty of every law abiding citizen to prevent crime, and criminals from plying their trade. If more offenders were shot and killed, I believe there would be less crime. I hope the Gov does the right thing.

Anonymous said...

You omitted that Richard chose to shoot Romero when he was fleeing. He did not shoot Romero while he was on his property. He did not shot Romero because of a fight over the weapon. The gun did not discharge accidentally during any fight for the weapon. He shot Romero when he was going over a fence. He had the choice of stopping the chase or continuing the chase. He chose murder. He chose to plead "no contest" just after jury selection. Romero made wrong choices. Richard made wrong choices. There are no grounds for clemency, nor does he deserve any clemency. Romero's family does not deserve any restitution either.

When he shot the fleeing Romero he did not "chose to protect the rest of us". He made life far more difficult for the rest of us that own and carry weapons for protection, either in our home, car or person.

Anonymous said...

To above post, yes shit head was shot as he climed over the fence shot in the just below the arm pit, they believe his arm was up becuase he was climbing, he immediately fell to pavement, suffered a concussion on the BACK of his head, according to OMI, its a bad position for all involved

Anonymous said...

What are we to do? Not to insult APD but it seems that they are pretty much useless for crime prevention, just look at the crime stats. These gangbangers and thugs are running amuck in ABQ or is that the Q. I too am fed up with the situation, but I also understand the rule of law for now. The police do a good job of arresting these thugs it is the judiciary that constantly release them back into society. If the judicial system would hand out just punishment to these criminals the cops would not be dealing with the revolving door system.Somethig needs to change or more people will start to excersise their right to self defense.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Richard is guilty of nothing more than protecting his family and property. I am sick to death of these dirt bags running the streets robbing from hard working, law abiding citizens. Governor Richardson needs to grant a full pardon to this man. Mr. Richard is a hero who served our country and was home minding his business when this scum bag decided to rob him. It is ridiculous that the judge has decided to award $500 monthly to the family of that thief Romero. Is that the valued amount that he robbed in a month's time?

Anonymous said...

THE EYE SAID, 600 VEHICLES STOLEN A MONTH IN ALBUQUERQUE. THINK ABOUT IT.

Anonymous said...

What if this situation was reversed, with the players being who they are.

Honestly, I wouldn't give a shit, however, no one would be saying Romero had a right to shoot Richard blocks away from the scene.

Anonymous said...

This is where I part ways with you Eye, I always am behind what you say, but cannot this time. Yes, it's easy to root for the good guy and hate the bad guy. It's so black and white in this case. BUT, one cannot ignore the fact that the law is the law and you have to follow it. Too bad Romero was off Richard's property. Unfortunately,Mr. Richard needs to be held accountable, even if he is one of the "good guys".

Anonymous said...

You can put words into the mouth of a dead man, it's easy. It's not so easy to just let Richard get away with it. Sorry, law is not on his side.

barbarossa said...

To "What if this situation was reversed":

What are you implying?

Anonymous said...

The tried to break into Elton's Bronco, then broke into his garage. He assaulted Elton with a mallet(mini-sledghammer) and various other tools, verbally threatened his famlily several times and stated, during thier altercation away from Elton's property that he'd be back when Elton wasn't home... then attacked him again.
This Marine faced a clear and present danger to himself, his family, his neighbors and the city.
How would you, or Elton, feel if Mr. Romero left Elton's home, and went a neighborhood over and stole from you... again, and again, and again... like his criminal record proves he would have.
Mr. Romero attacked Elton and was shot during an altercation. Forensics prove that. Probation at worst.

Anonymous said...

if the man wanted to kill the thief then don't you think he would have shot him a lot sooner than he did?! HELLO! i'm sure the details of this story have not been fully disclosed and have been spun by the media.
my father was a police officer and he ran someone down that tried to break into our house. people like my father and elton are trained to not cower! once in pursuit for a threat on the lives of his family and you want him to just stop and say okay...go ahead...come back later.
elton should be free! my deepest regrets go out to his family.