Updated Thursdays

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Police Officers & False Confessions

Austin, Texas
Christopher Ochoa was 22 when he was arrested for the rape and murder of a young woman. There was no evidence linking him or his friend Richard Danziger to the crime…So the police made some. They interrogated him twice, for twelve hours each time. They told him Danziger was ready to turn on him. Finally he broke.
He confessed to the crime, and said his friend Danziger was involved.

Ochoa had been in prison for eight years when another convict sent letters to several Texas government officials confessing to the crime, and telling them that they had imprisoned two innocent men. By this time, Danziger had been beaten into brain-damage by a fellow inmate, but they sent someone to interview Ochoa…Guess who they sent? That’s right, Austin PD, the agency that would be most embarrassed by Ochoa & Danziger’s exoneration. Needless to say, Ochoa stuck by the story they had given him.

Three years after this, he contacted the Wisconsin University Innocence Project. They put their students to work and soon discovered DNA evidence that freed the two men. Danziger was put into a hospital, as he was now unable to care for himself. Way to look out, TDC.

Ochoa followed the Innocence Project back to Wisconsin, and got his law degree. He’s now a practicing defense attorney.

This goes back to the justice or conviction question; do the cops want justice, or do they want someone to go to prison? Is the satisfaction of being able to ‘close a case’ worth the cost of years of an innocent person’s life? Carlos Coy has maintained his innocence since day one, probably because he believed he had the resources to fight a bullshit case. What he obviously did not count on were the 'investigative methods' of the police, not just in Houston but state-wide.

What methods were used to round up eight women to accuse Coy of molesting them? I've heard that the DA's office advertised for victims, and we tend to assume that anyone that shows up to accuse a rich person is doing so for the money, but what if there were coercion involved?

What if the police involved threatened to have CPS remove a woman’s child unless she testified against Coy? What if they picked up someone with a bag of weed and told her they would drop the charges if she co-operated? What if the police offered a broke woman a chance at a profitable civil suit if she’ll just help them put away a guy they’re convinced is a total monster? A year ago, if someone suggested to me that the police were capable of these acts, I would have laughed in their faces. After researching TDCJ the past few months…What can I say? My faith in the judicial system is completely destroyed.

The great and mighty have decided that we don’t need to know how they get convictions.
“Trust us…It’s for the children.” What people forget is that the man they toss into prison with no evidence is someone’s child; someone’s husband, someone’s brother, someone’s father.


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