Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks at a press conference on September 30, 2020. Screenshot, YouTube
During Wednesday morning’s press conference announcing the arrest of Deonte Lee Murray for the attempted murder of two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies, LASD Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener outlined an extensive timeline of the investigation and detailed the forensic and ballistic evidence already processed in the case. One would think that “woke” journalists would be happy that so many pieces of the investigation were complete and definitively pointed to the accused before charges were announced. No one likes it when someone is falsely accused of a crime, right? Wrong. The journalists were pissed that they weren’t given detailed investigative information at every step along the way, proper criminal investigative procedure be damned.
They were pissed that, when there was a 12-hour chase and manhunt in Lynwood on September 15 (the city next to Compton), they weren’t told that investigators had a strong suspicion – without any evidence – that the armed suspect they were searching for could be the deputy shooter.
They were pissed that they hauled their cookies all the way to Lynwood (which isn’t a neighborhood ANY of them ever frequent) for hours and hours and hours, thinking they could get the hot scoop or first picture of the deputy shooter, only to find out that they were there for a suspect who was “just” an armed carjacker.
They didn’t say it in the press conference, but they’re probably pissed that they weren’t told that investigators recovered the stolen, black Mercedes-Benz getaway car on September 15 after they apprehended Murray.
Amazingly, they were still pissed that so many law enforcement resources were devoted to “just a carjacker,” two weeks later. Since when are mainstream Los Angeles reporters worried about law enforcement resource allocation?
They were angry that Sheriff Alex Villanueva wouldn’t back off of his comments tying the general environment in the country and the Black Lives Matter movement with the attempted murder of his deputies, saying that, unless he had “definitive evidence,” he shouldn’t be saying those things.
So, definitive evidence is needed for a BLM tie, but not to announce to the public that the “just a carjacker” they were pursuing on September 15 could be tied to the deputy ambush? What?
Let’s just imagine what the reaction would have been had authorities voiced their suspicion after/during the Lynwood chase that Murray was the shooter, and it turned out he wasn’t? LASD would have been vilified by the traditional Los Angeles press corps, who were already more concerned about a reporter who was in the way at the hospital than they were about the two deputies fighting for their lives.
During the press conference Capt. Wegener knew that the journalists were lying in wait, eager to pounce on him. In an attempt to head that off, he said:
“At the time of the arrest…on September 15, we had no evidence that he was as responsible for the assault on our deputies, other than that previously stated today.
“We knew that he was a violent offender, he was accused of stealing a black Mercedes-Benz, and he lived in the area. However, there was insufficient evidence to support an arrest, much less a criminal filing, for the charge of attempted murder on a peace officer, and to label him in the media as the person responsible. Additionally, bringing the public focus on him at that point of the investigation may have influenced the pending witness interviews and further compromised the mission of solving the attempted murder of the deputies.”
Sounds reasonable, right? Nope. A male journalist asked:
“Could you have said [on September 15], ‘This is possibly the suspect; we’re waiting for more evidence?’ instead of saying, ‘This is not the guy’?”
As reflected in my earlier article, that’s not what the spokesman said that night. He said that “at this time” investigators didn’t have information tying Murray to the ambush shooting, and that was correct. They had a suspicion that he was connected but nothing to back it up. And, as Wegener pointed out, law-abiding citizens aren’t the only people listening to news reports about crimes. Murray, his associates, and any witnesses would have heard it, too. This is giving me flashbacks to the White House Press Corps wanting instantaneous updates and forecasts on military and intelligence operations. Sadly, today’s reporters know even less about operational security, criminal justice procedure, and investigative tactics than their predecessors, but are even more entitled and smug.
Anyway, it shouldn’t be surprising that this is the same journalist who asked on September 15 after Murray’s “he’s just a carjacker” arrest:
“Why all of the resources? I mean, it was like half the entire department for this guy.”
Yeah, sure, a felon running around with a high-powered rifle and wanted for carjacking should warrant a mild police response. The journalist wasn’t done flogging that horse, though, and asked AGAIN why such a response for “just a carjacking” suspect?
“At the time, he was an armed carjacking suspect who had shot somebody, and he was on our radar….And at the time, he was our best lead.”
The next stupid question:
“The DA said that it was premeditated. Why — what was premeditated? Why did he pick those two cops at that time?”
Is that her understanding of premeditation? As someone who worked in the criminal justice system for nearly two decades and on 13 capital murder trials, I realize that the ability to quote the legal definition of premeditation (at least as of the 2011 edition of the North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions) in my sleep is not shared by the average person. However, journalists covering crime and courts should have either been around the courthouse enough to understand what premeditation is on a basic level or should educate themselves.
To help my fellow journalists out, here is the general legal definition of premeditation:
Someone premeditates a crime by considering it before committing it. Premeditation requires that the defendant think out the act, no matter how quickly—it can be as simple as deciding to pick up a hammer that is lying nearby and to use it as a weapon.
And since “deliberation” is also part of the charge, here’s a freebie for my fellow journalists, also from Nolo:
A defendant deliberates by considering the act and its consequences (but not necessarily the punishment), and deciding to follow through with it. A deliberate act isn’t provoked or carried out in the heat of passion. But that a defendant was excited or angry doesn’t mean that she didn’t deliberate.
And what kind of time frame are we talking about to determine premeditation and deliberation? Again, from Nolo:
Time alone doesn’t determine whether a defendant premeditated and deliberated. All premeditation and deliberation require is the time it takes to form the intent, ponder the crime, and then act. Defendants can premeditate and deliberate in a matter of minutes, as long as the thought process occurs before the act.
There is no specific formula for determining whether a defendant premeditated and deliberated before acting. Courts and juries will consider the circumstances of each case.
Another reporter with an even more stupid question:
“Do you have evidence that suggests he was targeting police officers or sheriff’s deputies, specifically intended to beforehand?”
Wegener is all of us when he replied:
“I don’t understand your question, other than the fact that he walked up and shot uniformed deputies in their car. I mean, so that’s pretty –“
If Murray was targeting gang bangers, he really did a terrible job of target selection.
Above all, the Woke Press Corps is terrified that Murray may be tied with BLM. Sheriff Villanueva hasn’t been shy about his views on that topic, but Wegener hasn’t said or implied there’s such a connection (though he did point out that Murray is affiliated with “multiple” gang organizations). Still, a female journalist asked:
“Why did you link it earlier to the anti-police brutality protests? Why make that connection or suggest there’s a connection?”
Attempting to educate the dim bulb journalists, Villanueva noted that LAPD reported a 200 percent year-over-year increase in assaults on police officers, then said:
“This goes to the overall increase we’ve seen in brazen attacks on law enforcement. This is part of the environment we’re in right now. It’s a scary situation, in the sense that there are people that have such deep-seated hatred towards law enforcement they’re willing to just kill, unprovoked.”
Unfazed, the woman asked:
“Is there any definitive link between the current climate of anti-police brutality and these two officers?”
Look at that language! “Current climate of anti-police brutality” and “these two officers”? She can’t even bring herself to say that the officers were attacked, much less ambushed, or that the man attempted to murder them in cold blood. And is there ever a climate that’s pro-police brutality?
Villanueva replied that he couldn’t answer the question, since that goes to motive, and the investigation is ongoing. Unsatisfied with that response, a similarly rude, dim, and disrespectful male journalist jumped in and asked:
“Why not come out – when you knew where this was heading, why not come out at some point and say, you know, we’re pretty sure that this has nothing to do with any of the recent protests?”
Beg your pardon? As the saying goes, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Every single one of these reporters is so devoid of common sense that I wouldn’t even play Clue with them. It wouldn’t be fair. When Villanueva again said he can’t go into motive, the reporter continued:
“It seems like you could put it out there, you know, pull it back.”
The level of disrespect is stunning. As regular readers know, I’ve taken my own shots at Villanueva. But he’s still the Sheriff, and when you’re in a professional capacity interacting with the county’s top law officer, respect for the office at least is required. Fortunately, Villanueva put him in his place:
“I don’t need to pull it back. That is something I can comment on as a Sheriff, and I can definitely say that the job is not any less dangerous because of the protests, because of these violent acts. If you look at how many peace officers were injured in the protests…here locally in L.A. County, when you’re taking rocks, bottles, lasers, mortars…”
A couple of somewhat relevant questions were asked, but Villanueva wasn’t off the hook in any way. The attacks then ratcheted up to calling Villanueva a liar. The Woke Journalists simply cannot handle someone justifiably withholding information from them, because in their mind they aren’t simply reporting the facts; they’re judging the entire episode, and they need that information so they can tell the public who’s right and who’s wrong, dammit! They attempted the tried-and-true tactic of shaming (it’s like they still don’t realize that doesn’t work on Villanueva):
I understand that when you’re talking about the timeline you didn’t know for sure that the carjacking suspect was the same person, but you’ve said repeatedly that you had very strong indications. So when you came out and said no, this is not it, how are we supposed to believe what you say going forward?
Villanueva reminded the journalist that when they put things on paper, they have to be able to prove what they say, and that they’re not in the position of being wrong in this business. So why would they malign a possibly innocent man? Still, the journalists claim he “put out incorrect information at first” and was “deliberately misleading”:
“It seems deliberately misleading when you strongly suspected going into it that this may have been the guy. Now, I know you couldn’t clearly identify for sure that he was, but you definitively said he wasn’t when you suspected in the background he was.”
So, these journalists also lack listening skills. A review of the press conference shows that the department never claimed definitively that Murray was not connected to the deputy ambush, and Villanueva corrected him and emphasized that:
We’re not gonna tell you all of our suspicions because you don’t give away the story. We have to operate in a responsible fashion. And, like that poor gentleman…somebody on social media put his picture out, this was the suspect, and his life was turned upside down.
Isn’t that the type of thing the media is supposed to be fighting against? It’s time for Woke Journalists to drop the attitude, pick up a book or two, and get back to doing their actual jobs.
(NOTE: The criticisms in this opinion piece aren’t aimed at all mainstream journalists in Los Angeles. There are a few who are genuinely curious and display professionalism, but the vast majority do not.)