By Alan Bean
Michelle Alexander says police officers lie under oath because people are desperate to believe them. There is only one oblique reference to Tulia, Texas in this opinion piece, but I can’t hear the phrase “lying police officer” without thinking about Tom Coleman, the gentleman receiving the Texas Lawman of the year award in the picture to the left. Everybody was prepared to believe every word that proceeded from the mouth of this man.
Friends of Justice was organized by a ragtag collection of Tulia residents who were convinced Coleman was lying. We couldn’t prove it to a scientific certainty. But, as Judge Ron Chapman ruled four years after our fight began, the man was simply not credible under oath. A close look at the facts made that patently clear.
But nobody wanted to look at the facts.
Why were so many people willing to bet the farm on Coleman’s truthfulness? In this opinion piece written for the New York Times, Michelle Alexander provides some disturbing answers.
By MICHELLE ALEXANDER
THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.” (more…)