Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Look At The Tigh Croff Case

A couple of days ago, Tigh Croff was convicted of manslaughter for the death of Herbert Silas during a shooting incident that transpired in December of 2009. I had been following this saga for a while, but lost track of it due to other attention-grabbing incidents transpiring in this town; there's always another violent encounter to dissect, discuss, and try in the Court of Public Opinion.

I first heard about Croff's conviction, in the second trial, by a local TV reporter who wanted my comment on the outcome. I gave my honest reaction to this case which garnered a lot of public sympathy for the defendant. After a while, it finally dawned on me that the reporter was "fishing" for a salient quote to pan citizens who have Michigan Concealed Pistol Licenses, such as Croff.

As fate would have it, I have done enough media interviews to know when I am being exploited. No story featuring that angle appeared on that TV station, so I was relieved that the Croff case did not serve as "ammunition" for another attack on gun rights and lawful firearm ownership. This case is about the legality of the actions that Croff did and no one else.

However, the reporter's contact with me did cause me to pause and reflect on both the circumstances of the shooting and the eventual conviction.

On that eventful night, Croff reportedly arrived to his home, which had been burglarized three times in the prior week, to discover that two men were in the act of carting off his personal property.

According to testimony by the police, Croff chased Silas down the street with one firearm in each hand while "letting off" shots - some of which not only missed his target but hit neighboring homes. Some time thereafter, a winded Silas, stopped running and raised his hands to surrender.

Silas, reportedly, asked Croff mockingly, "What are you going to do shoot me?" It was then at this point that Croff confirmed his response by shooting Silas in the chest one time with a 9mm caliber handgun. Silas died and Croff was carted off to jail to face criminal charges.

Croff's jury in the first case ended in a hung jury. Half of his peers, on a panel of twelve, refused to convict him. In fact, the jury's foreman was so bold as to predict that no subsequent juries in any future trials would ever convict Croff. Of course, we know today that the foreman's prediction was false. However, at the time I actually agreed with him.

I am well aware of the state of Michigan's statutes on the lawful usage of lethal force. It is my honest opinion, that Croff crossed the line when he chased down Silas and shot him dead. However, as a life-long resident of the city of Detroit, I am also aware of the high level of frustration that law-abiding citizens here have with crime and an apparent broken criminal justice system.

Detroit is a violent town. I am not going to sugar-coat that fact for any apologists among us who are still embarrassed when the latest tragedy that happens in this town makes national news. I am so past folks in the national media "picking on Detroit." I am numb to criticism from outsiders. I want solutions. I don't care who offers them. I don't care from where they come.

Detroit is a city where teenagers rape 90 year-old women for kicks. It is a town where, on average, one forcible rape occurs every single day. At this very moment, DPD is conducting an investigation to determine if one of ten men it has in custody is guilty of sexually attacking eight women since the start of this calendar year. Additionally, in the preceding summer of the time period of the Croff shooting, another serial rapist had the east-side of Detroit in a state of terror. That rapist was convicted, a week ago, of 30 separate charges across five different cases.

Croff apologists are fed up with crime. They are also fed up with the local police department's inability to keep up with the criminals. DPD, according to a report I heard today, has 1,000 fewer officers on roll than it did a mere six years ago. A patrol cop's day is literally spent running from crime scene to crime, many times arriving too late to make a difference. They lack resources they need to do their job. We all know that. Criminals, however, could care less about DPD staffing issues.

Six members of Croff's first jury were probably fed up with crime and wanted to send a message to the criminals of our town. It appears that they were only too willing to turn a blind eye to the circumstances of the case. In Michigan, it is a crime to shoot someone who is not posing an imminent threat to your safety. The second jury, however, did its duty and found Croff guilty of manslaughter.

What are your thoughts on the case?
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