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CO Man Cleared of Four Charges of Assault on a ‘Peace Officer’

Unequal Justice

(DonkeyHotey, cc)

And now that you know the ending, allow me to tell you the story…

Christmas came early for Shane French of Cortez, Colorado, and on Dec. 8 he was found not guilty of four counts of felony assault on a peace officer, and three counts of resisting arrest. One of the assault charges had to do with allegedly stabbing Officer Friendly Eubanks.

On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 Shane French of Cortez, CO, had a bit of a mental health meltdown, and was said by his mother to have been ‘yelling at the top of his lungs and flailing his arms about’. Apparently French had some mental health issues, and PTSD was mentioned along the way, but the newspaper accounts of the saga never mentioned the underlying causes.

His mother wanted help calming him down, so she did what many relatives are known to do in such cases: she died 911 for help. Soon the police showed up at their house on North Texas Street: six of them. According to court testimony, they busted through the front door, shoved James’ elderly mother and blind father out of the way, and crashed Mr. French to the ground in the space of about five seconds.

From there on accounts get fuzzier, of course. They apparently shot him full of taser darts that added up to total of 350,000 volts, twice before he was handcuffed, and five more times once he was cuffed and face down on the floor. Once he was ‘adequately subdued’, they carted him off to the city jail.

At his arraignment, his bail was set by Judge Todd Plewe at $300,000; yes, you heard it right. Not being able to post bond meant that French spent 297 days locked up before he was released. Following the story backwards in time as I did, I was shocked to discover that due to (ahem) imaginative police reports, French was initially to be charged with the attempted murder of Peace Officer Casey Eubanks; news coverage didn’t say what happened to that charge, but the judge must have thought that the evidence didn’t support it.

At that time, French was offered a plea deal in which he would serve twelve years in prison. Blessedly, he refused the ‘deal’.

Before I get into some of the defense’s pretrial motions and testimony at the trial, I want to tell you what the basis of his defense was; to me it was utterly brilliant of the two Public Defenders who handled his case:

They defended him under Colorado’s version of ‘Castle Law’ which is ‘Make My Day’.

This is Wikipedia’s short version explanation; (here is the long lexisnexis one):

‘Another term, the “Make My Day Law”, arose in the USA at the time of the 1985 Colorado statute that shielded people from any criminal/civil suits for using force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home. The law’s nickname is a reference to the line “Go ahead, make my day” uttered by actor Clint Eastwood’s character “Dirty Harry” Callahan (in the 1983 police film Sudden Impact).’

Har har.

There have been other cases in which it’s been used as a defense against police intrusion, but I’m glad that PD’s Amy R. Smith and Heather Little either knew of them, or came up with the defense independently. At least it gives some small bit of redemption to the odious law.

CommunityMyFDL Front Page

CO Man Cleared of Four Charges of Assault on a ‘Peace Officer’

Unequal Justice

(DonkeyHotey, cc)

And now that you know the ending, allow me to tell you the story…

Christmas came early for Shane French of Cortez, Colorado, and on Dec. 8 he was found not guilty of four counts of felony assault on a peace officer, and three counts of resisting arrest.  One of the assault charges had to do with allegedly stabbing Officer Friendly Eubanks.

On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 Shane French of Cortez, CO, had a bit of a mental health meltdown, and was said by his mother to have been ‘yelling at the top of his lungs and flailing his arms about’.  Apparently French had some mental health issues, and PTSD was mentioned along the way, but the newspaper accounts of the saga never mentioned the underlying causes.

His mother wanted help calming him down, so she did what many relatives are known to do in such cases: she dialed 911 for help.  Soon the police showed up at their house on North Texas Street: six of them.  According to court testimony, they busted through the front door, shoved James’ elderly mother and blind father out of the way, and crashed Mr. French to the ground in the space of about five seconds.

From there on accounts get fuzzier, of course.  They apparently shot him full of taser darts that added up to total of 350,000 volts, twice before he was handcuffed, and five more times once he was cuffed and face down on the floor.  Once he was ‘adequately subdued’, they carted him off to the city jail.

At his arraignment, his bail was set by Judge Todd Plewe at $300,000; yes, you heard it right.  Not being able to post bond meant that French spent 297 days locked up before he was released.  Following the story backwards in time as I did, I was shocked to discover that due to (ahem) imaginative police reports, French was initially to be charged with the attempted murder of Peace Officer Casey Eubanks; news coverage didn’t say what happened to that charge, but the judge must have thought that the evidence didn’t support it.

At that time, French was offered a plea deal in which he would serve twelve years in prison.  Blessedly, he refused the ‘deal’.

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