On August 30, 2015, Darrel Burt shot a police officer. On September 2nd, 2016, he was found not guilty by reason of self defense. He was wounded in the elbow during the incident and has been held in jail for over a year. From delcotimes.com:
A Norwood man who claimed self-defense in shooting Ridley Park Police Cpl. Marc Hanly last year was found not guilty Friday of nearly all charges.
Darrel Burt, 37, was found guilty of recklessly endangering a civilian, Corey Clark, but was acquitted on a dozen other counts that included attempted murder of police officers, attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and assaulting a police officer by discharging a firearm.
Now that Burt has been found not guilty of all but one charge — reckless endangerment — his attorney will be asking for a bail reduction.
Reckless endangerment is a misdemeanor of the second degree in Pennsylvania, but the penalty can be as high as two years imprisonment. Burt has already been held in jail for a year. I would expect him to get credit for time served.
I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internet. The federal definition of a felony is a crime with a penalty of imprisonment for more than one year.
I sympathize with Burt, who is a veteran and served honorably with two tours in Iraq. Burt he apparently has a serious drinking problem and was drunk when he shot the officer.
The officers were there because Burt had called his friend and told him that he was contemplating suicide. The officers were trying to help. One witness told the jury that when Burt was incarcerated, it was the first time Burt had been sober in 10 years.
The officers made the mistake of not announcing themselves as police. None of the officers who were at the scene remembered having done so. Burt was fired upon first, with a Taser. Burt did not know it was a police officer or that it was a Taser being fired.
Many have said that citizens can never shoot at a police officer and expect justice, even if they were legally justified. There have been several cases in the last few years that show this is false. Darrel Burt’s case adds to the list.
In 2007, in a SWAT raid of the wrong address, Vang Khang shot at police officers as they broke into his family’s home. The police eventually settled the case for over $600,000. No one was hit. Adrian Perryman was found not guilty of shooting at police in another failed SWAT raid that ocurred in 2010. Brandon Watson was found not guilty after shooting out a window when police officers lit him up with laser sights in January, 2013. Hank McGee was not indicted for the fatal shooting of a deputy in a no knock raid in late 2013. Dallas Horton was not even arrested for shooting the Police Chief in Sentinel, Oklahoma, in 2015.
Fortunately, these cases are rare. They should become even less frequent as the digital recording revolution reaches saturation, where nearly all public events are recorded all the time.
This case did not depend on a recording. That’s a positive sign. For those who say a black man cannot receive justice in the United States, this case is a vivid counterpoint.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.