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04-29-06, 08:13 PM #1
Great example of a biased reporter
Deputies' feelings trumped her rights
When deputies went to the Nokomis home of John Allen Coffin and his wife, it was only to serve him with a restraining order connected to a landlord-tenant dispute.
It should have been routine.
Instead, it became a fight that ended with two bruised and bloodied deputies, and the couple in jail. John Coffin, 55, is facing serious felony charges that include aggravated battery of two law-enforcement officers.
The incident is clearly another example of why people are usually much better off if they cooperate with police, but I see a more vital point here: This was a fight the deputies triggered.
They did it by using painful force to arrest a woman without legal justification or even decent cause. Their actions show they need lots more training, if not different jobs.
When Sarasota County sheriff's Deputy James Lutz arrived at the Coffins' Nokomis home to serve a temporary restraining order, I don't know what he expected. Coffin has no criminal convictions. He is a landlord, and a tenant he evicted in Charlotte County had told a judge that Coffin threatened her and grabbed her arm to force her out of the rented house.
Judges often grant temporary restraining orders, good for a couple of weeks, to keep feuding parties apart until a hearing where both sides can be heard.
Anyway, when the deputy came to their door to serve the order, Coffin and his wife, Cynthia, were apparently wary. Two years ago, he had had a flukish and traumatic run-in with a Manatee County deputy. That deputy had misread their car tag and mistakenly suspected Coffin was up to no good and perhaps dangerous.
That mistake led to Coffin being pepper sprayed and clubbed in his sister's yard, and then arrested. The charges were dropped, but the experience upset Coffin so much that he filed a federal lawsuit.
Last week, when Cynthia Coffin answered the door at about supper time and found Lutz with civil papers for her husband, she said he was in the bathroom. She closed the door and went to tell her husband.
John Coffin didn't hurry to the door. Maybe he was irritated because he had already been served those papers, in Charlotte County, and because he was finding it hard to trust cops.
Cynthia, through lawyer Derek Byrd, says she didn't like it when she saw Lutz peering through a window. The arrest report says she ignored Lutz's further knocks and started closing blinds and locking doors, "thereby obstructing his lawful duties," according to the Sheriff's Office.
Interesting phrase. I'm pretty sure we all have a right to close our blinds and lock our doors to keep police from peeking or barging in without a warrant, at least when there is no emergency going on.
A garage door was still open. Lutz stood where he could block the safety beam to prevent it from closing. He heard the closer activate but the door stayed open.
By then, another deputy had arrived. When Cynthia Coffin came out to her garage to complain, the deputies threatened her with arrest if there was "further resistance," the report says.
When she turned to walk away, "the deputies feared she was going to enter the residence and lock the door," according to the report, and so, "to avoid further obstruction" they "grabbed her arms to place her under arrest."
How the heck is that legal?
The deputies had no legal basis for entering a home without permission, and no power to demand help from Cynthia Coffin even if she could have made her husband come out.
She, on the other hand, had every right to lock her doors to make it clear the deputies were not invited in. Good idea, actually, since the deputies apparently had no concept of her rights in her own home, which police in America are supposed to respect.
The report says she pulled away when the deputies grabbed her, so they forced her to the ground to handcuff her.
The legality of that notwithstanding, it was an effective ploy. Those deputies now had the man's wife on the ground as bait.
Sure enough, he came right out.
Though Coffin didn't yet know Cynthia's shoulder had been dislocated during or after the takedown, I have to guess he felt much as any husband would when he saw his wife pinned to the concrete by someone he felt sure had no reason or right to do such a thing to her.
The report says John Coffin started punching. The two deputies fought with him and tried to stop him with a Taser, but Coffin grabbed it and used it on them, sometimes as a club. As the fight went into the house, John Coffin pushed Deputy Stacy Ferris back into the garage and locked her out.
Lutz, bleeding from cuts on his head, fought on and finally drew his gun and was able to arrest the husband.
The charges John Coffin faces could mean serious prison time.
Cynthia Coffin was arrested, too, and charged with "resisting an officer without violence."
I asked sheriff's spokesman Chuck Lesaltato how the sheriff or the department's legal advisers could justify taking that woman down on the garage floor and arresting her to keep her from locking her own door. After a day to research it, Lesaltato said only that the deputies "felt they had cause" and "felt that they had been obstructed."
Deputies' feelings aside, I said, the question was whether the Sheriff's Office thinks they were right. But Lesaltato just kept repeating the mantra: "The deputies felt they had cause."
It is all about their feelings, it seems.
But how much will deputies and prosecutors take into account the feelings of the husband who found two cops pinning his wife to the floor because she had the nerve to lock them out of her home?
http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pb...6/-1/COLUMNIST"When I'm driving along and I see a sign that says, CAUTION: SMALL CHILDREN AHEAD,
I slow down, and then it occurs to me, I'm not afraid of small children"!
04-29-06, 08:18 PM #2
I hope this guy gets many of emails and letters responding to his stupidity.Being the best is not what always counts. What counts is always trying your best.
Remember who you are, and where you came from. That way you never get a big head.
May those that lost their lives in 9-11 RIP, for the things you did not many could do. You left so many behind so that you could save so few. For now we stand strong as one, and will not look back till the fight is done. (me)
The opinions given in my posts DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are MY PERSONAL OPINIONS only.
04-29-06, 11:44 PM #3
Absolutely ridiculous that they would allow this article to be printed.
04-30-06, 03:54 AM #4Originally Posted by LawEnforcementForums"When I'm driving along and I see a sign that says, CAUTION: SMALL CHILDREN AHEAD,
I slow down, and then it occurs to me, I'm not afraid of small children"!
05-01-06, 05:23 AM #5
My question to the "journalist": Where did you get your law degree, schmuck?
05-01-06, 06:25 AM #6
Hmm. I'd like to see the incident report or what ever you guys call it.He who has the money, signs the cheques.
He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
He who makes the rules, has the power.
He who has the power, has the money.
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