How About Perjury Prosecutions for Cops Who Lie About Other Cops’ Killings?

by | Dec 12, 2015


It is disheartening to see police unjustifiably abuse, injure, or kill people and then just return to their jobs after perfunctory investigations. In the instances when a cop is charged with a crime, so often the grand jury does not indict or the trial jury does not convict. Not every cop accused of criminal activity is guilty. But, it does seem like in many cases police do the crime but not the time.

At Mimesis Law, Ken Womble suggests employing an underutilized means to ensure some accountability for cops behaving badly: Prosecute police for perjury when they lie in their reports and to investigators. Womble looks to Chicago for an example of where such prosecutions could be undertaken. How about, he asks, prosecuting any police who were present when their fellow cop Jason Van Dyke killed Laquan McDonald and who then described the occurrence in a manner that is inconsistent with the video of the shooting but supportive of Van Dyke’s contention that Van Dyke’s lethal actions were in response to a threat from McDonald?

Womble is not suggesting that prosecutions of cops for murder, assault, theft, and other crimes be abandoned. He is just saying that perjury prosecutions of cops, including cops who took no part in a criminal action yet then lie to cover it up, should be undertaken as well. These perjury prosecutions, Womble explains, should often be easier to carry through to conviction and should have the added bonus of removing the convicted cops from the police profession.

Womble writes:

Unlike murder, assault or other crimes of violence, perjury is much more mathematical. There is no self-defense when it comes to perjury. The only viable defense is that the person believed that their statement was true. When a group of cops put forward the same story, and that story turns out to be demonstrably false when compared to the clear video evidence, it is not a mistake. It is a lie. Even the great Gerry Spence might have to stare at his shoe tops when trying to argue otherwise.

Beyond the sheer improbability of a group of officers all incorrectly remembering an event in the same exact way, there is clear motive. The cherry on top in a prosecution of Van Dyke’s fellow officers would be that they each had the motive to lie, to turn the illegal killing of Laquan McDonald into a justifiable instance of self-defense or defense of others. They did it to protect their fellow officer, in spite of the truth. Is there any reasonable doubt that those officers lied?

No, there is not. Guilty of perjury. Turn in those guns and badges. Those officers would never be able to credibly testify ever again with a perjury conviction under their belts, so they are useless as law enforcement officers. The punishment they should receive for their crime is honestly of lesser concern. Just stop being cops. Go sell shoes or vacuums. You can lie all you want in those professions.

Read Womble’s complete article here.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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