Dershowitz: Police Shooting 'Seems Like a Cold-Blooded Murder'

Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 03:36 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Comparisons between the Michael Brown shooting in Missouri and the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida are "totally off base," said Harvard Law Professor and Newsmax "Legally Speaking" contributor Alan Dershowitz on Newsmax TV.

"Based on the evidence we've seen so far, and the police haven't really come forward with their account, this seems like a cold-blooded murder," Dershowitz told "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth Thursday. "It's a complete violation of the rules and Supreme Court decisions."

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In Florida, Dershowitz said, the altercation between George Zimmerman and Martin was a one-on-one fight between individuals, and a jury resolved the situation by acquitting Zimmerman.

But in Missouri, where Brown was allegedly shot while running away unarmed with another man from a police officer, the situation is entirely different.

"Police are not allowed to fire at a fleeing felon, a fleeing person even if he's a felon," said Dershowitz, "unless he poses an immediate danger, unless he has a gun, unless he's firing back. When a person is running away, the police have no right to shoot at him. That is murder, not police conduct."

And now the officer, who has not been named, "says he was reaching for the gun," said Dershowitz. "Even if that was true, he didn't get the gun and he was running away. You can't shoot somebody in the back or in the front as he's running away with his hands up."

"You can't even shoot a soldier if he has his hands up in a middle of a war," the noted attorney continued, "So this seems like a very difficult case for the police department unless there's more we don't know, and we always have to presume everybody innocent."

There are also some issues with the police in Ferguson wearing military garb, said Dershowitz.

Such militarization started in Los Angeles under Police Chief Daryl Gates several decades ago, Dershowitz told Hayworth.

"They regarded particularly black areas as 'occupied territory' and sent in the police as if they were an occupying force, and that's not good," he said. "Community policing is far better. It is far better to have people who are from the community being part of policing the community, not to be seen as an occupation army."

Dershowitz said he's very disturbed at the violence in Florence, "but right now the goal is to avoid further conflict. An evening curfew might be a good idea, and there are other ideas that are out there, to at least stem the immediate violence right now."

The attorney also discussed the on-going situation in Gaza, mentioning an article in Thursday's edition of The Wall Street Journal concerning how the White House and State Department reacted to to news that the Pentagon had sent some munitions to Israel.

"It's a very important story, because up until now, the Obama administration could credibly say that although they disagree with Israel's policies on the settlement, they have stood 100 percent behind their right to defend themselves from rockets and from tunnels," he said.

But if the United States "withheld smart bombs from Israel during a time it desperately needed them" to combat the threat of Hamas' tunnels and rockets being fired, "that marks a very, very strong retreat by the Obama administration from its commitment to Israeli security."

In addition, he said that he hopes the current cease-fire will hold, but pointed out Hamas has broken several of the measures.

"Cease fire to Hamas means Israel ceases and Hamas fires," Dershowitz said. "So I'm not optimistic about the prospects for a ceasefire."

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