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Columns : Editorial

There Oughta be a Law

People should not be able to falsely accuse law enforcement officers of terrible crimes and escape all punishment for their lies.

July 03, 2018  |  by - Also by this author

Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)
Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)

In late May a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper found himself accused of one of the worst crimes on the books. A female DWI suspect said he raped her. And a whole lot of people believed her.

The trooper was patrolling near Waxahachie at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday May 20 when he pulled over a motorist for a possible DWI. All should have gone smoothly with this arrest. If nothing else had happened, then this incident would have likely ended with the motorist, Sherita Dixon-Cole, pleading guilty to having had a few too many adult beverages on a Saturday night before making the disastrous decision to drive home. She would have served some kind of court-appointed penance and moved on with her life, hopefully a little wiser.

That's what should have happened. Instead, Dixon-Cole turned a simple DWI pop into a full-fledged political and racial incident. Dixon-Cole, who is African-American, is the friend of a prominent civil rights attorney named Lee Merritt, who is in contact with Black Lives Matter activist and quasi-journalist Shaun King. So when she made allegations that the trooper, who is white, stopped her for no cause, raped her, and threatened to kill her boyfriend and then plant a gun on him, then this simple DWI pop turned into a firestorm. Merritt alerted King. And King spent a good deal of his time that day telling the story on his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, expressing his outrage and spurring the anti-police, progressive, BLM mob into a fury. In his reporting, he didn't even use the wiggle words that all journalists learn early in their careers so as not to libel suspects, words like "accused of." He just took Dixon-Cole's word for gospel and convicted the trooper.

Fortunately, the trooper was wearing his body camera during the stop, during the arrest, during the DUI testing, and during the booking. It captured nearly two hours of him interacting with Dixon-Cole and not once was he anything short of professional and polite.

After Texas DPS released that video, Attorney Merritt issued an apology. And activist King penned an article blaming Dixon-Cole for duping him and not mentioning his irresponsible reporting that inflamed the situation.

So what happens now? Well, despite the fact that many people would like to see the trooper sue all involved, it's not going to happen. He has no action against Attorney Merritt because you can't sue an attorney for taking the word of his client, unless the attorney knew the client was lying. He could sue King, but King probably doesn't have the proverbial pot for catching yellow rain and most libel cases end with a retraction not a cash payment so few lawyers will take them on contingency. He could sue Dixon-Cole, but she probably doesn't have much more in the way of assets than King.

So that leaves prosecution of Sherita Dixon-Cole. Well, other than the DWI, that ain't going to happen. The Ellis County District Attorney's Office released a statement saying it would not prosecute her for lying about the trooper. The DA's office said what she did was an outrage, and added: "This office agrees wholeheartedly with the public sentiment that something should be done to Sherita Dixon-Cole for the malicious lies she told and for the harm she brought to a dedicated peace officer who was just doing his job with grace and dignity." Unfortunately, Texas law does not support criminal charges against Dixon Cole, according to the DA's Office.

The easiest conclusion here is that Texas law needs to change. But really that's not good enough. Waiting for each state to pass a law that would permit prosecution of people who falsely accuse officers would take forever. So I believe this should be addressed at the federal level. We need federal legislation that would permit prosecution of future Dixon-Coles.

This ties in with the push for a federal death penalty for cop killers. Murdering an officer's reputation is almost as heinous as killing the officer and it needs to have serious repercussions. In addition, such false allegations help feed the homicidal anger many people now have against cops, so this is truly an officer safety issue that must be addressed. I urge you to contact your legislators at the state and federal level and tell them we need laws to deter people from lying about police conduct.

Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

Thanks Cobra @ 7/4/2018 5:13 PM

This is so true. This is why morale is down, pro active enforcement is down, recruitment is down , retention is down and retirements are extremely up.

Legislative officials better do something or there will not be many people in our profession. Which will lead to a break down of law and order. I Know a lot of people in our profession and not many people want to be doing this job anymore.

Al nalley @ 7/4/2018 9:12 PM

Im a little perplexed, "did she not file a false report or give a statement to law enforcement under oath? No what you have is a DA who thinks Character Assassination is part of the job. Then of course a Police Officers peace can't be breached.How many times have you heard that one from a DA or County Attorney. Maybe the DA should read the Texas Penal Code or his law books "ie" Criminal Codes go to the Court House Law Library
Al Nalley

Grey Bear @ 7/5/2018 7:47 AM

It's funny how a LEO can be assassinated in the media and nothing is done, even when such falsehoods lead to violent demonstrations and ultimately to violence against unrelated officers. Of course, if a Federal law were passed on this issue, would it also apply to those who use their public office to wrongly crucify officers and ruin their careers? To that end I ask that with one person in mind: Baltimore DA Mosby, as we all saw what she did and how that ended for her.

DEPUTYJJG @ 7/5/2018 8:47 AM

This Trooper and another Trooper with the same last name have received death threats after these false allegations. I agree that this woman should somehow be made to pay for her actions. TX LEO

Ernest @ 7/5/2018 1:37 PM

Scumbags know how to push buttons and cause problems for us. If I had to do it all over again, I believe I would demand a body cam. We didn't have them in my day so I always carried a miniature tape recorder and used it whenever I had any interaction with the public ( and certain other officers). Everything that was said was recorded, including radio traffic which always ended each transmission with the current time. When myself or my patrolmen were accused of pissing off a citizen, I would turn over a copy of my tape.

It might have been a kinder & gentler time in law enforcement but there were still those who thought bringing down a cop would give them street creds or or possibly get their case tossed. I am a big believer of accuracy and the truth. I retired (medically) 20 years ago after 24 years on the job. I loved my job but I couldn't put up with the crap that cops have to endure today. Wear your body cams and stay safe.

Jon Retired LEO @ 7/7/2018 1:27 PM

Good article Mr. Griffith, and good comments!

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