By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/15/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A former sheriff will spend no time behind bars as a result of a plea deal, although he struck and killed two pedestrians while on duty. Locals are blasting the deal as a failure of the justice system.
A Kern County Sheriff's deputy may return to the streets following a plea deal for community service, despite killing two pedestrians.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although national attention is focused on Ferguson, MO, angry residents of Bakersfield, CA staged a small protest of about a dozen people in front of the Kern County courthouse in Bakersfield, CA on Friday.
Carrying signs decrying the lack of justice, protesters as well as the general public expressed their disapproval at the plea deal that will keep former deputy John Swearengin on the streets.
Let is pray for peace for those deprived of justice. May justice come.
Deputy Swearengin was arrested in December of 2011 after he plowed into two pedestrians, Daniel Hiller and Chrystal Jolley who were crossing the street at night. Swearengin was responding to a call and video footage revealed he had neither lights nor siren on while speeding in his cruiser. Reports from the investigation suggest he may have been distracted when he struck the pedestrians. He did not brake before the collision.
Charged with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter, he faced up to seven years in prison. However, as a result of his plea deal, he will only do 480 hours of community service and he may even keep his job as a sheriff.
This has the public crying foul.
It should be noted that if a person slapped a peace officer, even one that is off duty, they're certainly going to jail. Conversely, it appears as though a deputy sheriff can plow into two people while speeding without lights or siren, and still keep his job. This appearance of injustice, regardless of circumstances, has many upset and angry. However, it is up to prosecutors and judges to make the case for punishment, not the public.
Another fact that should outrage citizens is that Deputy Swearengin has been on paid administrative leave since October 2011, and he may retain his job if an internal investigation decides he did not violate any department policies.
The Deputy District Attorney, Michael J. Yraceburn explained that he "wasn't happy" with the outcome of the case but that he wasn't certain a conviction would have been possible.
Needless to say, many local residents aren't happy with the outcome either, with many taking to social media to express their frustration with a local system of justice that seems to protect aggressive deputies over the rights of citizens.
The families have been paid a total of $8.8 million in compensation.
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