(c) (8/5/96) Ian Williams Goddard
(Associated Press) NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 5 -- Federal agents did NOT use excessive force in trying to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh, a federal appeals court said today, upholding the convictions of six cult members.
Oh really, “did not use excessive force.” Gee, let's see if this claim can pass the fact test:
On July 30, 1992 ATF agents interviewed arms dealer Henry McMahon about large purchases of guns that David Koresh made for resale through the Davidian's legal gun business the Mag Bag. McMahon phoned Koresh to inform him that ATF agents were asking about his recent purchases. David replied, “If there's a problem, tell them to come out here. If they want to see my guns, they're more than welcome.”
With phone in hand McMahon turned to tell the agents that Koresh invited them to visit Mt. Carmel and check out the guns. The ATF agents declined this invitation to peacefully gain entry to the Mt. Carmel community. So the ATF had the opportunity to resolve the matter in a peaceful fashion.
The road to peace lay before them, instead the ATF chose the road to war. To gain entry, the ATF unleashed violent and literally explosive military force on a community filled with dozens of women and children; an action that the ATF even believed would result in a shoot-out. This can only be defined as EXCESSIVE FORCE -- that is, force above and beyond that which was necessary to gain entry.
In light of the invitation to the ATF for peaceful entry and subsequent preference by the ATF for violent forced entry, it is clear that the decision of these judges to keep the Davidians in jail because the ATF “did not use excessive force” is at odds with both fact and logic, and thus the judge’s reasoning for keeping the Davidians in jail fails the fact test. But that's not all, it also fails the legal test:
Condemning these victims of governmental abuse to upwards of forty years of imprisonment, Judge Patrick Higginbothan claimed:A citizen may not initiate a firefight solely on the grounds that the police sent too many well-armed officers to arrest him.
I know it’s a lot to ask, but perhaps after studying the facts of the case before him the judge might also try to learn about Texas law. For example, Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code which states:
The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified: (1) If, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or persons acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make an arrest or search; and (2) When and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer's (or other person's) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.
You kindly invite someone to enter your home, they decline the invitation and instead show up with 100 heavily armed men initiating gunfire on and killing your dogs, hurling explosive devices into your windows, shooting down from a helicopter through the roof, and then filling your home with thousands of bullets. If this effort to gain entry is not an example of excessive force, pray tell what is ? !
The ATF’s act of massive aggression upon the Mt. Carmel community was a text book case of excessive use of force, and as such, according to Texas law, the Davidans had every right to shoot back in defense of their families.
In fact, the jury found survivors guilty not of murder but “voluntary manslaughter,” the definition of which is “acting in the heat of passion due to adequate PROVOCATION.” The excessive force was the “adequate provocation,” and that's one reason why the jury thought the Davidians should walk, and why jury foreman Sara Bain pleaded with the judge on the day of sentencing to heed the will of the jury and set the Davidians free. Both the will of the jury and justice have been denied.
To this day the crime of aggression against the few surviving Branch Davidians continues. Not only were over eighty lives snuffed out, but nine lives continue to be slowly snuffed out in prison. For these Davidians the vicious aggression of Feb. 28th 1993 has continued without a single pause. Free the Branch Davidians!The federal government was absolutely out of control there [in Waco]. We spoke in the jury room about the fact that the wrong people were on trial, that it should have been the ones that planned the raid and orchestrated it and insisted on carrying out this plan who should have been on trial.
Sara Bain, Jury Foreman at the Branch Davidian [ Waco ] trial
August 5, 1996
(c) Ian Williams Goddard -- free to copy nonprofit with attribute
Recommended Waco fact reference: THE DAVIDIAN MASSACRE, by Carol Moore $9.00 book rate - $11.00 first class and Canada Mail to: Carol Moore, Box 65518, Washington, D.C. 20035. 202/635-3739
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