Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Bush Commutes Sentence Of Back-Shooters
I guess George Bush had a compulsion to do one last stupid thing before he officially left office. At least, that's what it looks like. On his final full day as president, Bush commuted the prison sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean (pictured above). They will now be released from prison in a couple of months -- after serving only a tiny fraction of their sentences.
The two men are ex-Border Patrol agents. They were convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 11 years (Ramos) and 12 years (Compean). They were convicted of shooting an unarmed man in the back as he ran from them, and then trying to cover their crime up. Their excuse was that he was a drug smuggler (a van with marijuana in it was found near the scene, but no real evidence connects the victim to the van).
Sadly, many politicians from both political parties (but especially the conservatives) have objected to trying the men for a crime at all. They seem to think that it's OK for a policing agency to shoot an unarmed man in the back as long as the victim is not a citizen and you accuse him of committing a crime.
They are wrong. It is a crime to shoot someone in the back who is running away from you. It is a crime to shoot an unarmed person, especially one who poses no danger to anyone. It is a crime to shoot someone because they are suspected of a crime.
These men were found guilty by an impartial jury in a court of law. That verdict was upheld by the appeals courts. Even Bush thought their behavior was criminal. That's why he commuted their sentence instead of pardoning them. He just thought the 11 and 12 year sentences were too harsh.
Personally, I didn't think the sentences were harsh enough. Society simply cannot put up with such behavior -- even from our police agencies.