Furor at Robinwood Annapolis officer followed policy when he fired his gun.

September 05, 1996

IT IS UNFORTUNATE that many of Cochise Ornadez Daughtry's neighbors in the Robinwood community of Annapolis have decided that the 18-year-old was an innocent victim of a city policeman with a quick trigger finger. To reach the conclusion that Officer David W. Garcia acted recklessly is to ignore evidence that suggests Mr. Daughtry and his companion, Vernon Eugene Estrep Jr., were not blameless victims.

From what is currently known about the late Sunday night shooting, it appears that the two Robinwood youths contributed to their own misfortunes by refusing to obey an order from a uniformed policeman. Mr. Garcia is a seven-year veteran in the state capital who had been dispatched to Tyler Avenue to investigate reported gunfire. Investigators say that he saw two men beating up a third man -- Carlester Jackson -- with bottles.

If we accept the notion that the job of the police is to preserve public order, Mr. Garcia's choices were limited. Once he saw the beating, he was obligated to stop it. Mr. Daughtry and Mr. Estrep may have thought they had good reason to violently pummel Mr. Jackson. However, any reasonable person coming upon the scene would have concluded that the person receiving the beating was the victim, not the people doing the beating. By refusing to obey a police officer's order, Mr. Daughtry and Mr. Estrep reinforced the conclusion they were the aggressors and placed themselves in jeopardy.

Faced with subduing two men armed with bottles, the officer had to incapacitate them. A nightstick or chemical spray might have done the job, but these two had already indicated they would be tough customers. Rather than risk them turning on him, Mr. Garcia made the split-second decision to take no chances. He reached for his gun and fired, complying with department policy on using deadly force, according to Annapolis police.

Organizers of Tuesday's march played upon the community's dislike for the Annapolis Police Department. No matter how much Robinwood residents dislike the police, they are obligated to obey their orders. No society can survive if citizens freely disobey its sworn law enforcers. Had Mr. Garcia's command been followed, the outcome of this incident likely would have been much different.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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