Acquittal of driver who killed officer is a terrible...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 27, 2001

Acquittal of driver who killed officer is a terrible injustice

After reading "Jury acquits teen accused in death of police officer" (Jan. 20), I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. How could the jury acquit the gun-toting, bulletproof vest-wearing thug driving the car that killed Officer Kevon M. Gavin?

How far apart are we? There must be a pervasive mistrust of the police that we don't all understand. Still, at the very least, Eric D. Stennett should have been convicted of vehicular manslaughter.

What a sad outcome. I hope that Mr. Stennett doesn't go out and kill one of the jurors' loved ones -- or mine.

Lenore Williford, Baltimore

I was distraught by the acquittal of Eric Stennett in the death of Officer Kevon M. Gavin. I will never understand how that jury could set him free, without even a traffic violation.

Not only was it a bad day for the city police department and the Gavin family, it was a bad day for all citizens of Baltimore. I do not know how those jury members can sleep at night knowing that they put every citizen at risk by letting Mr. Stennett free.

Please assure Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris that the jury does not represent the citizens of Baltimore. Most of us are outraged by the trial's outcome and wish we could somehow make it right.

I hope all the Baltimore police can find the strength to continue to do their jobs despite this terrible injustice.

Sharon Reuter, Baltimore

Eric Stennett was wearing body armor, fleeing from police with a loaded handgun in the car and speeding through the streets of Baltimore when he killed a police officer. I'd categorize his actions as "stupid, brain dead."

At trial, he got a jury of his peers.

Ron Waltemeyer, Baltimore

Vilification of the police led to Stennett's acquittal

Reading about the acquittal of the person accused in the death of Officer Kevon M. Gavin ("Verdict assailed by family," Jan. 23), I can't rid my mind of one extremely troubling thought: For years, we citizens of Baltimore have been subjected to a chorus of vilification of the police department every time there is a incident of alleged misconduct or brutality.

A handful of civic leaders use these isolated incidents as evidence that our police are no better than the criminals.

The vast majority of the men and women in the police department are hardworking, conscientious people who lay their lives on the line every day to serve and protect us.

Unfortunately, those so-called community leaders have vilified the police to such an extent that they have instilled in many citizens a basic mistrust.

I submit that the acquittal of the person responsible for Mr. Gavin's death is in part the result of such demagoguery.

Michael Bagliani, Baltimore

More experienced jurors would render fairer verdicts

The verdict in the Officer Kevon M. Gavin murder trial was a disgrace not only to his family and the police department but to our judicial system.

A jury of one's peers has become a jury of one's friends.

Laws should be passed requiring that juries be made up of judicial professionals. These people would better understand the testimony and evidence in criminal cases and would return just and fair verdicts.

This would end unfair verdicts delivered by undereducated, inexperienced jurors.

Roger R. Bryant, Essex

Deregulation enriches the few, hurts consumers

Hooray for deregulation. My BGE bill has tripled.

When are we going to realize that it is not the consumer who is freed up by deregulation. It is the corporations, who are given the license to pursue ever-greater profits in any ruthless way they please.

When are we going to realize that the government is not our enemy, but our only protection from these powerful interests.

Deregulation does not increase competition; it kills it. Look at the airlines mess. Look at the California power disaster.

Now those who voted for President George W. Bush have put the corporations right into the White House.

Watch your wallet. It's going to be a long four years.

Michael Kernan, Baltimore

The right to hate is part of free expression

After all the fallout from the city Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano incident, I have reflected that it is no crime to hate. As unsavory as most people think it is to hate, it is a person's right to hate anyone or anything for any reason.

In a free republic we must accept the bad with the good -- and the right of people to hate must be protected just as much as any other right.

Thane Bellomo, Baltimore

Graziano deserves chance to show city what he can do

Doesn't city Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano deserve a second chance ("O'Malley OKs paid leave for Graziano," Jan. 5)? He has admitted an alcohol problem, apologized for his remarks and is undergoing treatment.

While I do not expect Mr. Graziano to be cured in 30 days, he is taking steps to correct his behavior. And, if he were not a public figure, this incident would not have been blown up as it has been.

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