Military and Police

Karma Shows Up at Arraignment of Driver Who Killed Pedestrian in Charlottesville

“Some argue this event had to go down. How does anyone dignify that assertion?”

Karma, karma, karma. Never too far behind. Always silent, sort of. And definitely has answers many merely wish they had. Case in point: the Charlottesville, Virginia driver who mowed down protesters, killing a young lady and injuring 19 others, was denied bail this morning. Despite his story that he subsists on $650 every two weeks and that he could ill-afford his legal predicament, James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, had no success in wooing District Court Judge Robert Downer.

Compounding his early morning courtroom woes video-fed from county jail, the public defender assigned to represent indigent Fields filed a motion for recusal. It turns out one of the public defender’s relatives was among the 19 injured parties caught in the plow-down orchestrated by Fields. It got worse for Fields. Judge Downer explained that he received correspondence from the public defender’s office claiming none of their attorneys can represent Fields for the same reason: one of their own had one of his own involved, thus casting a pall over public-expense legal representation.

Despite the cross-section of finger-pointing and a heated blame-game ensuing, the spoils of Charlottesville are the newest scars upon American tissue.

Conflict and partiality beckons recusal, and that was how it played out. I have never heard of such an instance before, but it ultimately makes sense.

The System Exemplified

“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you, free of charge.”

Those words spoken by every law enforcement officer and officers of the courts are applicable in Mr. Fields’ situation. Notwithstanding the fiery attitudes towards him for what he caused, our criminal justice system with inherent fairness is exemplified by honoring his constitutional rights, even though he did not accord the same courtesy to any of his victims.

In keeping with Fields’ Sixth Amendment rights to a lawyer and a fair trial, Judge Downer implemented due process and appointed a private lawyer to represent Fields. Charlottesville Attorney Charles Weber, whose legal fees will be compensated by tax dollars, will attempt to construct Fields’ defense.

Part and parcel is the civil rights violations investigation launched by the Department of Justice and investigated by the FBI. Judge Andrew Napolitano explained the process via a Fox News interview.

I am curious to see if/how the prosecution will incorporate or at least infer Fields’ culpability regarding the deaths of two Virginia State police officers whose active-duty helicopter crashed during the melee on the surface streets. Providing panorama optics to law enforcement field officers and colorizing what was transpiring on the ground from an aerial view, both police aviators perished, the crash of which is still being investigated by the state police and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators.

Line-of-duty deaths of Virginia State police Lt. Jay Cullen and Trooper Burke M. Bates were chronicled during the now-infamous date of August 12, 2017.

Hate-filled hearts can be hugely costly. The horrific death of 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer resulted while freely walking within the trajectory of Fields whose hands gripped the wheel of destruction. Despite the cross-section of finger-pointing and a heated blame-game ensuing, the spoils of Charlottesville are the newest scars upon American tissue.

Stone-throwing is the static norm nowadays, and blaming is just too easy: President Trump did it. Keeping the Confederate statue is the reason. Taking down the statue triggered everything. We need to retain our history. Our past needs to be denied. Too many police officers. Not enough cops. Charlottesville mayor ordered police to stand down. The police did nothing. My protest sign is curling. His bullhorn was too loud. Starbucks is closed…

On and on we chant…while several humans are flung into the air like bowling pins bumped by a fast-charging hard object piloted by a teeth-gritting dark figure not old enough to consume alcohol.

Some argue this event had to go down. How does anyone dignify that assertion?

Humans did not have to go down, yet it happened. Nothing can rebirth Ms. Heyer, and Mr. Fields assured that for the annals of American history. Sometimes karma is silent and sometimes it screams for our attention, and choosing to ignore it while recalibrating and imposing would-be rights swirling in a muddied mind results in zero gain.

I pray for the Heyer family. I also pray for Mr. Weber and his loved ones. Mr. Fields created his own bed.

Richmond-Times Dispatch reporter Ned Oliver stated Fields responded to Judge Downer with a bevy of “yes, sir” and “no, sir” while remaining seemingly calm and aloof. If only mannerisms and his conscience rang his bell prior to turning his ignition key, if only.

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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