Pending The Investigation

Our attention span is short, and every day brings a new case, a new situation, that calls out for scrutiny.  There is only so much we can follow, except for those who have dedicated themselves to a specific instance.  The problem with that is that the rest of us, those for whom it’s just one data point in a universe of data points, don’t share their obsession with one case.  We move on.

And even when the instance is big, huge, at the time, our limited attention gets diverted to the next big deal long before anything happens, because they utter the magic words, pending an investigation.  No, it’s rarely said when it’s a regular perp, who is caught as quickly as possible, immediately convicted by press conference and smeared with whatever they have available.  But when the perp is a cop, they immediately start screaming about rush to judgment, time to investigate, blah, blah, blah.

There isn’t much to say about this assurance that they will conduct a full and thorough investigation. There is no argument against investigating, as if it’s a bad thing. But the one thing it guarantees is that by the time it’s done, assuming it’s done, all eyes will be elsewhere and interest will have long faded away.  Maybe not always, but it’s a good bet.

A Newsday/News12 report makes this point glaringly, and pathetically, clear.  The underlying story is long and convoluted, but the TL:dr version is a drunk Nassau cop, Anthony DiLeonardo, shot a Suffolk County cab driver twice after a dispute in 2011.  The Nassau County police wanted this liability off their payroll, concluding that he committed four felonies.

So what happened in Suffolk County?

There were dozens of potential witnesses to the shooting and its aftermath, including medical personnel, civilians and law enforcement officials from both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Newsday recently interviewed seven of the incident’s central figures, or their attorneys, and all said they had not been asked to testify before the grand jury, which was set to expire in January 2014.

A spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, whose office maintained jurisdiction over the Huntington Station incident, confirmed Newsday’s findings and acknowledged for the first time that Spota allowed the special grand jury to expire last year without key witnesses being called.

Spota made a big deal of the fact that he was convening a special grand jury to deal with this terrible crime.  It’s not often that a cop on Long Island shoots a cabbie, and this was a big deal in the papers.  Everyone, including Newsday, breathed a sigh of relief knowing that Spota was on the job, that DiLeonardo’s drunken shooting would not get swept under the rug.

So everyone moved on. January, 2014, came and went, and the grand jury term expired. And nobody noticed that nothing happened.  DiLeonardo’s prosecution was no longer shiny enough for anyone to care about. Not even Newsday.  Not until a year later did it occur to anyone that there was no indictment.

As for the inaction, Spota has his excuses.  He claims that cab driver refused to cooperate by testifying in the grand jury.  DiLeonardo’s lawyers argue that their defendant wanted to testify, but only upon a grant of immunity.  This is pure silliness, as a potential grand jury target may have the right to testify, but only upon a waiver of immunity.  Then there were the dozens of witnesses, about which nothing is known except that they were never called to testify.

There are a great many questions about what happened to this case, particularly in light of subsequent events in Ferguson and Staten Island where prosecutors put on a play before the grand jury to create the appearance that they were doing their job while making sure that no indictment would be forthcoming.  The renewed interest in DiLeonardo likely stemmed from these botches.

Whenever the official story is about an official person who is the suspect of crime, the cycle shifts speed entirely, from full steam ahead to take advantage of public interest by showing how our brave police have saved us from today’s killer so we can sleep well tonight, to the looooong, slooooow proooocess of investigating.

This is nothing new.  This will come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the difference in how law enforcement rushes to judgment when the alleged criminal isn’t one of theirs, but demands patience when it is.

And sometimes, after a lengthy and thorough investigation,  a cop gets indicted and prosecuted.  And sometimes, if we’re all watching and screaming so loud that they can’t bury the investigation by hoping something new and shiny will divert our attention, they have to take the heat by presenting it to a grand jury while quietly sabotaging their own presentment to make sure “justice is done.”

But when a year goes by after the expiration of a grand jury, for a crime that occurred three years before, and nobody notices despite the fact that it was a huge crime in a place where police shootings are extremely rare, the scam is revealed.

It’s not that Spota failed to indict.  It’s not that DiLeonardo should or should not have been indicted.  It’s that nobody, from the news media to the public, cared enough about it to remember it happened and followed it through to its outcome.  A special grand jury expired and no one noticed.  Had it not been for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it’s likely no one would have ever noticed.

H/T Mike Paar

16 thoughts on “Pending The Investigation

  1. Patrick Maupin

    I put it on my calendar, but that was my old, now unsupported calendar program. I understand the NSA managed to extract the data and reconstruct my schedule, but they won’t share it with me. Fortunately my new program does a better job of locking my data in.

  2. Curtis

    Americans have the attention span of a sun-baked worm. Besides… shiny stuff. And stuff like this happens to “other” people… because, ya know, they’re not “other” people. Until they are. And then they’ll wonder why no one cares. And of the one’s who do care, like Cop Block, PINAC, National Police Misconduct, and such… why, they’re just a bunch of anti-cop crazies.

    1. SHG Post author

      And of the one’s who do care, like Cop Block, PINAC, National Police Misconduct, and such… why, they’re just a bunch of anti-cop crazies.

      This is a problem. Each does good work. Each also has its occasional (or more) devolution into anti-cop craziness. And one thing none is willing to do is draw a line between the two and keep the crazies away. There is plenty to say and do about police misconduct without fostering blind anger toward and hatred of cops, and without become a home base for every angry cop-hating nutjob on the internets.

    1. Patrick Maupin

      I’m trying to figure out the stupidest statement in that article. “This bill would have officers being held to a different standard than the rest of the public.” would normally be a contender, but it was obviously meant to try to be non-inflammatory, so the main contenders are “This bill is not meant to withhold information from the media or the public.” and “Yes, there would be a delay in information. But nobody would be dead.”

      I guess unintended irony merits more bonus points than newspeak, so I’ll have to choose the latter.

  3. onlymom

    i know you won’t print it. but sounds like legal grounds for the family of the taxi driver to put a [balance deleted].

      1. Patrick Maupin

        This blog is available in print? Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  4. John Barleycorn

    During the 1970s and early 1980s, Spota worked as a Suffolk prosecutor under District Attorney Patrick Henry. He then entered private law practice in Suffolk, representing clients including the Suffolk Detectives Association and other law enforcement unions.

    That must be why he never took up playing the cello and decided to run for DA with his hand on his pecker instead of the bow.

    What kind of a douche bag doesn’t learn the at least play Marry Had a Little Lamb on cello before running for DA?!

    Here is some cello for you Spota… If you are an organ donor. when your time comes, I hope somebody uses your tendons to make music or something. You sure as hell never fully used them. You can’t even stand up straight.

  5. Wrongway

    “There is plenty to say and do about police misconduct without fostering blind anger toward and hatred of cops, and without become a home base for every angry cop-hating nutjob on the internets.”

    If I may, since the public has started to find out that this type of thing is the ‘Norm’ for guys with badges doin bad stuff.. This ‘blind anger’ will continue to fester among those who are watching. And the word will continue to spread. And the more people that actually start paying attention, the more nutjobs & crazies you’ll see. Which may be a good thing in the realm of reform, as most are peace loving people, but there’s always that one ‘fuckbubble’ that comes out of nowhere ..
    I understand what you’re saying & why, but I’m pointing out a fact that has been rearing its head in the social media as of the last 5yrs or so.. –> People are noticing that votes/protests/petitions/etc. aren’t doing any good. There is absolutely no perceived accountability of officials to the people.
    “I can’t get off from $125 jaywalking fine, but this asshole can get away with attempted murder ??” And that is a mindset that is spreading. Well of course he can when an ASS HAT like Spota is in his corner, gaming the system, if for no other reason than to deny liability to the City & the Dept.’s strained budgets..
    I’ve seen people see a Cop speeding, record him doing so, follow him to his destination, (Krispy Kreme Doughnuts), turn in the video & file a complaint, only to be cited for speeding while following the Cop.. WTF!! (ask for the link, I know the rules.. it’s been a while but I’ll find it.. ).

    OK, I’ll shut up now..

    1. SHG Post author

      I get comments like yours about a dozen times a day, and have for years. We’re about a million miles from that revolution that some think is coming any minute now. Hell, we’re still a thousand miles from 90% of the population giving a damn. Spend too much time reading stuff that confirms your bias and you begin to believe that everyone thinks like you.

      It’s not true. But we do make headway, little by little, in showing people what’s happening. The question then is whether they get scared away by the crazies, and a great many people do. Be too extreme and ordinary people head for the hills. Some think I’m too negative, over the top, while others call me pussy and coward for not being aggressive enough. I’ve long since given up trying to please anyone else, so I keep the tone here where I want it, try to scare away the crazies, simpletons and morons, and keep doing what I do.

      But do not make the mistake of thinking that the battle is anywhere near won. It’s not. Not even close.

  6. Wrongway

    Well, that’s one thing I love about SJ, you don’t kiss anyone’s ass.. you don’t really take sides, you usually just put it out there for all to absorb & filter through their own biased brains..

    Also, you’re right on 2 counts, I am a bit biased, & no one I know thinks like me.. Trust me on this, “I know”..

    But once again, if I may, the article you linked to wouldn’t have appeared 10yrs ago because no one gave a damn.. “Hey it’s wasn’t me or mine so, sucks to be them..”. But these days & with increasing regularity, these types of articles are showing up.. & reaching wider & more interested public.. so yeah, that’s a good thing.

    Question: This war you speak of.. (whoa! that came straight from the ‘Lord of the Rings’..) could you put it into words that will define what we’re fighting & the outcome after it’s won ??

    I know I’m asking for a ‘Utopian View’, but don’t sweat it.

    In My Utopia, the women dress like vikings & hate karaoke..

    1. SHG Post author

      Perhaps you’ve read my “but for video” posts along the way? The reason for the phrase in the title is twofold, that we would never know it happened but for video, and that while it’s been happening forever, it’s no longer deniable as we can see it for ourselves.

      So yeah, things are changing. Enough, and quickly enough? I dunno. Sometimes I think we’re making serious headway, and other times I just want to face palm when I talk to people. It reminds me that the info is all out there for anyone to see, but whether they give a damn is another matter. And most people would rather feel safe and secure (at other people’s expense) than stand up for principle and risk losing a moment of comfort.

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