I walked into District court Tuesday to testify in a burglary case. Back in October someone broke into my car and took cash and some private items – but thankfully left behind my credit card and driver’s license.
A Rockville police officer found my personal property and some of the cash when he was investigating another burglary. The plain clothes officer and his partner rousted a homeless man found asleep under an overpass on Gude drive near Rockville Pike and during the course of questioning the young man they got consent to search and found my property.
According to the defense attorney assigned to the case and according to police officers, the young man has an arrest record and has mental health problems.
“He’s on his medicine now,” the defense attorney told me.
The police officers said the afternoon when they arrested the man he became violent as they placed handcuffs on him. He began to “Kirk out,” and it took four to bring him into custody because he became violent.
Tuesday the court appointed attorney got the case thrown out of Judge Holly C. Reed’s court by portraying the police as violating the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights because they said, “Come here,” to him when he was under the overpass.
“What’s he going to do? Run from the police?” She asked as a way of proving her point.
As a result the young man – who according to both the police and the defense attorney has a mental problem – was likely back on the streets Tuesday afternoon and back in a shelter.
“He’ll probably be back out under the overpass again tonight,” an officer said.
The defense attorney defended her move to get the case thrown out of court and suppressing all the evidence obtained in the search which turned up my valuables because she said the police abused her client’s rights and unlawfully detained him.
The Fourth Amendment is indeed in trouble and I join those who say police sometimes overstep their boundaries. This was not one of those cases. In point of fact you can always tell a police officer you do not intend to cooperate and force their hand if they do not have probable cause.
If you comply willingly and only afterward complain, then I believe you’re more the fool – or in this case – mentally ill and shouldn’t be turned loose either.
With that said, the defense attorney did her job by the law, but did her client no favors.
Her client needs supervision and housing. Unfortunately he is one of the many mentally-ill who are clogging up the court system and are getting no help.
According to the court appointed defense attorney and many police, we could clear many court dockets if we had adequate mental health facilities and I find myself in agreement.
A man of questionable mental health – who was found to be incompetent to stand trial on one occasion was turned loose and tossed into a shelter without supervision.
Here’s the kicker. I never saw a picture of the accused, but when they brought him into court Tuesday I immediately recognized him as one of the young men I’ve seen panhandling in Rockville Town Square and near the Metro station.
For all I know I’ve given him money in the past – voluntarily. I would do so again despite him being in possession of my stolen property.
The man needs help – supervision and assisted living. While the young court-appointed attorney can cheer that she defended his Fourth Amendment Rights – is the man any better out on the streets than he would be in the county jail’s supervised and structured environment? No.
He is a danger to himself and apparently to others.
If he has already proved violent in a recent meeting with police, how long before he becomes violent with someone other than police?
He isn’t going to get the help he needs in a shelter. He is one of the countless victims of a broken mental-health system that ultimately turns victims into victimizers as they struggle to survive in a county riddled with hypocrisy on this issue.
As progressive as we pretend to be, where is the care for the mentally ill?
As the proximate man, Judge Reed had an obligation to assist this man – that he thinks he did by turning him loose is a testimony to our hypocrisy and our inability to come to grips with the mental health crisis in this county.
As we head into the election season you can bet there will be few if any with courage to tackle this.