Our nation's olice officers fight for justice for others, but these past few years, justice seems hard to come by for them. It's more than nice nice to see an officer finally get some justice themselves.
An off-duty Norfolk, Virginia Police officer had to shoot and kill a mentally-ill male in January of 2020. At the time, it looked as though Norfolk Police Officer Edmund "Ryan" Hoyt might go to prison for protecting his family and himself.
The case first went to trial in August of 2022, and was subsequnetly declared a mistrial following jury deliberations lasting for a total of nine hours, over a two-day period.
They hit an impasse.
The state elected to retry a case that may have seemed to many, a matter of self-defense.
The Commonwealth’s attorney claimed Hoyt had escalated the situation.
It also made the state appear to have a vendetta; that is, an agenda to convict Hoyt.
If so, this certainly wouldn't strengthen any working relationship between police and prosecuting attorneys, at least in Virginia.
In January, 2020 Hoyt’s wife and daughters called him; they were frantic, claiming that someone had threatened to stab them.
Hoyt rushed to the store, where wife and daughter were, and confronted Kelvin White, who was wearing a backpack stuffed with books on the front of him; this was a makeshift bullet-resistant vest.
Hoyt, according to witnesses, identified himself as a police officer.
Based on believing White was armed with a knife and may have stabbed his wife, Hoyt drew his firearm and ordered White, a six-foot-1, 285- pound man, to the ground for his safety, according to Yahoo News.
Although White refused to get on the ground, Hoyt didn't shoot him.
Rather, he tried to subdue the much larger man.
During the encounter, White drew a knife, attempting to stab Hoyt.
According to Law Enforcement Today, in the second trial — the jury found, "Hoyt reacted in the only way that he could, according to the jury’s decision, by protecting himself with deadly force,"
Hoyt fired his weapon several times before White stopped.
Apparently, the makeshift bulletproof-vest was effective.
The jury deliberated for two hours. Hoyt was found not guilty.
Following the jury’s decision, Mario Lorello, the officer’s defense attorney, praised the jury's findings, noting that the case was "always a clear case of self-defense and defense of a family."
Lorello said, "The jury’s unanimous verdict recognized that Mr. Hoyt had a right to defend both his family and himself in the face of this very real danger . . . The jury saw the case and the evidence for what it was: a husband and a father rushing out to his terrified wife just around the corner after a man approached her and her children and threatened to stab her in the face."
It can be argued that the jury also did not jump to conclusions, that is, taking the position that Hoyt was in the wrong just because he was a police officer.
While police officers should be held to higher standards because of the weighty responsibilities they have, it doesn't mean that the law should be applied differently to them.
When police officers do something wrong, they face consequences, but too often, as of late, wrong is in the eyes of the beholder — and not the law.
Just like the rest of us, our law enforcement officers deserve justice. Period.
Michael Letts is the Founder and CEO of InVest USA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping to re-fund police by contributing thousands of bulletproof vests for police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs. He also has over 30 years of law enforcement experience. Read More Michael Letts reports — Here.
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