by Charles Heller
I want to introduce you to Jared Wagoner. The state of Arizona calls him
14262. Jared is a nice kid, now 19. He grew up in Tucson, played little league
and soccer, and had a slight lisp which he has outgrown. At about 13 he got
involved with some less than savory characters in his decent, east side
neighborhood. By 14 he was messing with drugs, sassing his parents pretty badly,
and staying out too late. He got into some petty scrapes. Jared bucked and
snorted some more than many teenagers, more than his mother with MS could deal
with, and at 16 moved out of the house.
On the day of his 18th birthday, his girlfriend gave him a .380 auto. That
night he and his friends went for a cruise. They encountered some other kids and
an argument ensued. They gave each other the finger and parted company. About
two blocks from the scene of the argument, Jared got the bright idea to prove he
could have been a tough guy, stuck the .380 out the window, and fired 3 into the
dirt in unincorporated Pima County. But the other guys in the argument had
gotten their license number.
Ever hear of a felony car stop? That was Jared's next experience. The
sheriff's deputies surrounded them and took them out of the car at gunpoint.
Because of the suggestion of gang involvement, the gang unit detectives showed
up. They read Jarred his rights, then questioned him. He told the detective he
wanted a lawyer. His response? "I don't have time for that". Jarred
then said, "Oh well, I guess if you don't have time..." and told the
nice policemen that he ONLY meant to intimidate, not injure. That' called an
admission against interest. It's why you should ALWAYS remain silent when
talking to the police officer, unless YOU are the complainant.
Because of the circumstances, the Pima County Attorney decided that this was
a good case for the use of the new "drive by shooting" law signed by
Governor Symington. It's a class 2 felony. (For reference, Manslaughter is a
class 3 felony, less serious in the eyes of the law.) That's right, drive by
shooting. No victim. No injuries. No property damage.
I'll be the first to tell you that Jarred committed a felony under ARS
13-2904. He recklessly discharged a dangerous instrument. That's a class 6
felony. I'd have NO problem with a prosecution for such. But drive by shooting?
You see the other party in the argument with Jared was a police officer's son.
Make more sense now? Jarred did not want his parents to mortgage their house for
the $20,000 a "good" lawyer would have cost, and accepted the public
defender. His "defender" got him a "good deal" by plea
bargaining drive by shooting down to aggravated assault. Jarred got 4.5 years in
Yuma State Correctional Facility.
There were 3 occupants in the car in which Jarred was riding. The police
found the gun and 3 fired casings, but did not know which of the three had
fired. Only Jarred admitted firing. Guess what? If no one had talked, the
prosecution would not have been able to prove who had fired, and would not have
had a case. Likely they would have just let the case drop. The evidence? Jared's
The courts have ruled, over and over, that deception, on the part of the
police, is a "valid law enforcement technique". The cops can say
almost ANYTHING, true or not, to get you to roll over on your friends. If you
lie to them, there are 5 crimes YOU commit. The police are obligated, before
they question you to tell you your rights. Why would anyone waive those rights
if they really understood them? Because they trust officer friendly?
The police are forced by the nature of their job, to care about 2 things: 1)
Getting home from their shift undamaged. 2) Making an arrest.
That's it. Most of them would rather arrest the bad guy than the good guy,
but in the presence of any doubt they'll "let the court sort it out".
They will use ANYTHING they can to get an arrest. Don't give them that anything.
Or maybe I'll visit you in Yuma this summer.