Don’t Start Making Those “Free Cory Maye” Signs Yet

Radley Balko over at his excellent blog, The Agitator, has managed to draw a lot of attention to the case of Cory Maye, a cop killer, scheduled to be executed for his crime. Unfortunately, Radley initially got a lot of important facts wrong about the case and although to his credit, he has corrected those mistakes, the egregious factual errors he made to begin with are the hook that has been used to draw people’s attention to the case around the blogosphere.

This post at Battle Panda, which Radley approvingly linked to at one point, is a perfect example of the sort of misinformation that was taken directly from the original post at the Agitator and spread freely across the net:

Let’s summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn’t named in the warrant, and wasn’t a suspect. The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door’s been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town’s police chief. He’s later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

Let’s take it step by step, using the corrected information Radley has now posted, shall we?

Let’s summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn’t named in the warrant, and wasn’t a suspect.

Actually, it wasn’t a mistake. An informant had claimed drugs had been stored in Maye’s home 24 hours earlier and the warrant the police attained gave them permission to search his residence.

The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door’s been kicked in.

According to the prosecutor, uniformed officers announced themselves at the front door and then, only after Maye refused to open up, did they go around to the back door, announce their presence a 2nd time, and break the door down. That’s when Maye shot officer Ron Jones, who hadn’t even drawn his gun, to death.

Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town’s police chief. He’s later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury.

It wasn’t an all-white jury. There were two black jurors, which shoots the whole “you know how those racists in Mississippi are” angle, which is being subtlety introduced here, right out of the water.

The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.

To claim that the police “tellingly changed their story” is really splitting hairs. From Radley Balko:

“Police clearly did change their story. Immediate reports said police found drugs in Maye’s apartment. Police later say they found the “trace.”

For all practical purposes, this is a distinction without a difference, especially since Maye wasn’t charged with any drug related offenses.

Furthermore, although Maye had no criminal record, they did find drugs in his residence and he murdered Ron Jones with a stolen gun. So, even though he didn’t have a criminal record, it certainly wasn’t because he was squeaky clean.

What it all comes down to is that the cops had a warrant, identified themselves as police officers twice, and then Maye deliberately and knowingly chose to shoot one of them to death. For that crime, Maye deserves the needle, the noose, or the chair — not sympathy.

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