Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Good Cop, Bad Copsm Pt 1


(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)

(Disclaimer: The proprietor of this blog and Mr. Wilson have an ongoing years-long friendship, in which the former has benefited on several occasions by the generosity of the latter. However, that in no way, shape or form has influenced the blog owner’s decision to post an article about his case nor the content of what is written below.)

Introduction
We need police. That’s the long and the short of it.
     Whatever your view of the very real problems our society faces in bad cops who shoot unarmed African Americans or the mentally disabled when sent to the scene of a medical emergency, the simple fact is that those cops take a lot of oxygen from the honest, dedicated law enforcement professionals whose good to society far outweighs the bad we incessantly hear about on the news and social media.
     The need for some law enforcement was understood in the days of the Roman Empire and in AD 6 answered in the form of the vigiles urbani. And 1823 years later, Sit Robert Peel well understood the need for a professional police force and that’s how Scotland Yard was created, with the passage of the Metropolitan Police Act, in 1829.
     So obviously, there will always be the need for “the thin blue line” because where there are laws, there will always be criminals. And latter day human society is always in desperate need of good cops to make up part of that vital buffer between civilians and lawlessness and disorder. But what happens when cops forget whatever high-minded ideals that led them to apply to the Academy when they turn on their own, when pensions and reputations are at stake?
     We all remember what had happened to Serpico. And Serpico was an exception that gradually became more of a norm than an exception. And today, I will write at length about the bizarre case of Antone Raneo Wilson, a good cop who got railroaded by his own. Not only his own, but lazy, collusive, avaricious attorneys (including three who were suspended), a famously corrupt Boston political power structure and virtually every principal involved. It’s a case that is so intensely radioactive that no mainstream media journalist or attorney will touch it with the proverbial 10 foot pole. (Most recently a reporter with the Boston Globe looked into it then, like Homer Simpson or Sean Spicer, slowly melted into the bushes). That was when I was contacted by former Mass State Trooper Antone Wilson.

The Beginning
It began on a miserable, wet rainy day in December of 2000 in Franklin, MA. It wasn’t even a routine traffic stop. Franklin, in Norfolk County in southern Massachusetts, is generally a friendly city, one of just 14 granted a charter to run a city government. It’s the kind of place where, when you hear a car backfire, you assume it’s a car back-firing and Honor Roll high school graduates bound for college make the front page of the local paper.
     However on this day, off duty State Trooper Antone Wilson was driving through Franklin and ran into a detail manned by three officers from the Franklin Police Department. He stopped long enough to ask for directions and one of the young officers, perhaps resenting his posting on a foul day, was immediately surly. The situation quickly escalated and when Trooper Wilson was asked for ID, he produced his State Police creds.
     Rather than de-escalating what was already a needless confrontation, the Franklin Police essentially detained Trooper Wilson as they wouldn’t hand him back his badge and ID for upwards of 20 minutes. At one point, one of the young officers even deliberately nudged Trooper Wilson’s shoulder with his own in order to manufacture an escalation. Trooper Wilson was by this time already 39 years-old and didn’t bite on the bait.
     It ought to be mentioned that despite Franklin’s lowkey reputation and outward gentility, at this exact same time the Franklin Police Department was already under federal investigation from the Chief on down for corruption. Even 16½ years ago, the allegations went back three decades.
     Ironically, even though Trooper Wilson was the one being wronged, it was the Franklin Police Department who’d fired the first salvo in the form of a complaint against Trooper Wilson for assault and verbal abuse. They almost surely did this to cover their own asses as a pre-emptive counter suit to protect itself from what they expected to be Trooper Wilson’s own complaint. However, Trooper Wilson never filed that complaint.

Can We Spell Conflict of Interest, Boys and Girls?

As if tempting the Fates into bringing about a self-fulfilling prophecy, the Franklin PD had filed a complaint that had brought about an investigation into Trooper Wilson for misconduct, specifically regarding physical assault and verbal abuse. As if that wasn’t enough, the Massachusetts State Police had saddled him with an attorney who was jurisprudence’s answer to a canvasback club fighter on the take.
     Without immediately making full disclosure to his client, this attorney represented not only the MA State Police union but also the Franklin PD’s union. Almost immediately, as if trying to sweep it under the rug, Mr. Wilson’s representation was, in his own words, “increasingly strident” about getting his client to admit to some guilt in the interests of speedy resolution. Attorney/client privilege is intended to protect the client from prying outside parties, not the attorney from his own client.
     Deeply suspicious of his own lawyer’s intentions and motivations, Mr. Wilson then asked him, repeatedly, if he also represented the Franklin PD’s union and his concerns about collusion were dismissed. Eventually, as the investigation gained traction, Trooper Wilson was in the absurd and very unenviable position of watching growing evidence proving his innocence rebuffed by his own attorney. Yes, Antone Wilson’s own attorney was working in concert with investigators to ensure some responsibility for misconduct would be proved or admitted to. Finally, after confronting his lawyer by asking him if he was indeed working for the Franklin PD’s union, he answered in the affirmative, albeit vaguely. As much as honest individuals hate to use the word, Trooper Wilson realized his concerns about a conspiracy were well-founded. Putting a cherry to this revelation was Wilson’s ominous caveat: “(Y)ou’d better not be telling state secrets.”
    Several days before Trooper Wilson’s disciplinary hearing, two senior officers who’d been assigned to the board were replaced. This was particularly suspicious because Wilson had expressed to his original attorney his satisfaction with the two officers that were subsequently removed. This action was unnerving because it implied that Wilson's attorney had shared confidential information with the State Police (remember the quaint notion of attorney/client privilege?). The move, Wilson suspected, was a final attempt to force a negotiated settlement in an attempt to forestall a disciplinary hearing. It was clear that the "prosecution" didn't want a hearing that would compel the sworn testimony of the Franklin PD "witnesses" and generate a permanent, transcribed record. Trooper Wilson was convinced his own attorney was abusing his trust by sharing confidential, privileged information with the same party (the Mass State Police) that was attempting to get nonexistent dirt to stick on him. He was, nevertheless, determined to force the hearing.
     As the rescheduled hearing approached Trooper Wilson's plainly useless attorney had recused himself from the case and the replacement attorney-appointed without Wilson's prior consent- would be presenting the case. "I understood," Wilson later stated, " that there were only two real scenarios: The hearing would be 'on-the level' or it wouldn't" What Wilson didn't understand was that this was the beginning of an ordeal that would endure for over 17 years...
(Part 2)

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