Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Did Police Chief Steve Bracknell Libel George Zimmerman?

Whenever I write anything to be published on the Internet or email, I assume that it could be made public at any time.   I caution readers to do the same.  While Internet anonymity is possible, it takes careful preparation and significant effort.

Florida Police Chief Steve Bracknell had a moment of inattention to that advise, and it has pushed him into the middle of the Zimmerman persecution, where no matter what he does, he will get criticism from nearly everyone.   In addition, he may well be sued by George Zimmerman for libel.

In an email to Santiago Rodriquez, of unknown residence,  quoted in the left wing thinkprogress.com, Chief Bracknell makes an unguarded comment.   At thinkprogress.com there is a link to the email exchange between Santiago Rodriques and Chief Bracknell :

Rodriquez writes:

Either way you had crimes committed by this man and did nothing,  Zimmerman is a Sandy Hook, Aurora waiting to happen your job is to protect the communities you serve and you are failing big time...

There is no other state in America in which a man can threaten someone with a gun and not be arrested for it apparently in Florida you have no regard for true justice or the law and that has to come to an end, if Charges are not filed on George Zimmerman we will demand the Justice department to investigate the way your department handled this investigation and how potentially you had assisted a cover up


One Disgusted American
Now is when (Chief) Steve Bracknell makes his mistake.  He writes a long reply to Mr. Rodriguez, explaining in detail the situation and his scrupulous following of the law.  At the end, he writes:

16.  Your reference to Sandy Hook.........................I agree.
17.  Again, there is no cover up.  We are just bound by the laws of our state. I welcome any outside oversight.

Thank you for your email.  I have tried to answer your questions honestly.  On a personal note I agree with you on a few of your points.

Ordinarily, a statement of personal opinion such as this would be uneventful.  The problem is that Chief Bracknell is not speaking as a private individual.  He is speaking as Chief of Police on (almost certainly) department owned equipment and on a department set up email.   From such a position, he has a duty not to make unsupported, libelous statements to the public, which is what he appears to have done, albeit likely without considering it to be so.

Now that the email has been published online, Chief Bracknell is, correctly, backtracking.   It is doubtful that he has the training to make such statements, and they are very likely actionable.

He is caught between two camps.   The animus toward George Zimmerman is very high, and appears to be supported at the highest levels of the administration.   The sympathy for George Zimmerman is also very high, with a majority of people believing that he is not guilty and has been treated unjustly.

This is a very dangerous place for Chief Bracknell to be.   I hope that he will backtrack fast enough not to be caught in the jaws of this trap.

 ©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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