There Oughta be a Law

Murdering an officer's reputation is almost as heinous as killing the officer and it needs to have serious repercussions.

David Griffith 2017 Headshot

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.

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