6.19.2012

Today’s Investigative Special Report “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” ‘Father Beats Unknown Man To Death’



By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

“Force is not a remedy.”
Lavaca County court house, Hallettsville, TX
Lavaca County court house, Hallettsville, TX (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It would be politically incorrect to tell a story about a man who came to the aid of his four year old daughter and beat the child molester to death, as the majority of society believes the father did what every father would do if their child was being molested.

The major question is did the father go too far in the beating of the Gonzales man who was molesting his daughter? It comes down to, when did the protection of his daughter stop and begin. Once his daughter was freed from the child molester should the father have stopped his protection and assault on the man?

This will be the question that a grand jury in Lavaca County Texas will have to decide. The decision of what force is reasonable and what isn’t reasonable will be one of the many questions the grand jury will need to decide. Further, the prosecutor will have to argue for and against was the father in a position to stop his aggression and if not was the beating of the child molester by the father ‘an act of excessive force’.

Missing from the majority of news articles and media outlets are the role(s) law enforcement played in the investigation. Instead media provided information about the feelings of the father, telling law enforcement that he didn’t mean to kill the man…he seemed resourceful.

In this case law enforcement would play an important role in how the case will be presented to the grand jury. Let us look at law enforcements role(s) in how they should have approached this case:

       1.      The law enforcement officers are told by the father that he saw this man allegedly molesting his daughter and took steps to stop the man from molesting his daughter. Officers would have to approach the statements of the father in a neutral and objective manner. Although the information provided by the father sounds legitimate the officers would need to conduct the investigation in such a manner that the evidence would support or not support the father’s rendition of the incident.
        2.      The law enforcement officers would need to identify and interview any other potential witnesses who were at the scene and may have witnessed the event. These witnesses may have possibly heard or saw the incident. Digital recorded statements would need to be taken by the officers for examination by the assigned investigator and prosecutor.
      3.    A crime scene technician would need to come to the scene and identify, preserve, collect, store, and process any physical or biological evidence. If any weapons were utilized by the alleged child molester or the father, this would need to be collected and analyzed by the State Crime Lab at a later date.
      4.      The assigned detective would need to conduct interviews of anyone who could provide information about the relationship between the alleged child molester and the father. If there was a prior relationship, then a possible motive to hurt or injure the alleged child molester would need to be ferreted out.
       5.      The officers would need to ascertain what statements the father made prior to and after the beating of the alleged child molester.
       6.      The officers would need to ascertain what the physical condition of the child was after the alleged incident and any statements she made at the alleged crime scene.
      7.    The medical examination would either support or not support that there is any medical or physical evidence that a molestation or rape had taken place. Additionally, what statements were made by the child to the attending physicians, nurses, and social workers?
      8.    The assigned detective working with the prosecutor would need to sit down and discuss what the specific evidence i.e. physical, biological, eyewitness accounts, and so forth either support or do not support the father’s statements.
    9.    All of the above information would need to be presented to the grand jury for a reasonable and logical decision that a crime was or wasn’t committed; according to the law.

The alleged incident which has been told by law enforcement officials and the media has not revealed the possible relationship between the alleged child molester, how many times the father struck the alleged child molester, if there were any eyewitnesses to the alleged incident, and so forth.

Another emphasis by law enforcement and the media was about locating the alleged child molester’s family before releasing his name. This is standard protocol by most law enforcement agencies. The need to notify his relatives before releasing his name is a professional and logical decision.

Map of Texas highlighting Lavaca County
Map of Texas highlighting Lavaca County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The attitude of the public has been ‘good job’ as if this was my child and I walked upon someone molesting him/her I would have responded in the same manner as the father did. However, this is not the question that needs to be answered by the grand jury. Granted the father had every right to protect his daughter from being assaulted, but how many times did the father need to strike the alleged child molester to stop him from assaulting his daughter?

If this case is seen as justified by everyone involved, if the public outcry is that the alleged child molester deserved what he got, and if given the same situation a reasonable man/woman would have done the same, then was the action taken by the father legal? Morally, no one can argue that the father needed to use force to stop the assault, but the grand jury will ultimately have to decide if the father’s ‘total’ actions were legally justified.

Tomorrow, cases like the above case will be reviewed by this author providing a perspective from an educated and experience investigator of 38 years. It is my hope you will enjoy this new daily series, as I explore what steps law enforcement should have taken to ascertain the truth.


Lawrence W. Daly
206-650-0229
ld@steppingstones.ws
Puyallup, WA

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