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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Interview: New York Times Reporter Walt Bogdanich on cop domestic violence and Michelle O'Connell case

[Audio] The Leonard Lopate Show - WNYC
Police Officer-Involved Domestic Violence 
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
"Pulitzer Prize winning Frontline correspondent Walt Bogdanich discusses “A Death in St. Augustine,” a collaborative project with The New York Times that investigates police officer-involved domestic violence. He discusses the hidden problem of officer-involved domestic violence, and the story at this investigation's heart: that of young single mother Michelle O'Connell who was found dead from a gunshot after she broke up with her boyfriend, who was a cop. The sheriff’s office ruled it suicide—but was it?" [LINK]
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities murder said suicide florida state politics st johns sheriff's deputy jeremy banks sheriff david shoar]


  1. I just saw the Front line show on her death. And it is a sad tale indeed. But while i am emotionally incline to support the family and believe it was the officer who did the crime. I am 50-50 split on the matter. I live 3000 miles north. I know no one in that city. Have never been to the state but based on the case as presented by the PBS show, and i assume it was their best effort. I can not with any certainty he did it. I would think so... but guess do not win court cases nor is it enough to charge him with a crime. I am sorry but in the end, the case was so badly handled that there will never be justice for the lady and if she was murdered then it was the perfect crime, because he will have created so much doubt that I can say beyond any reasonable doubt he did it. The evidence points to it, but simply is not there. I hope for the family they can find closure and move on looking for the future and forget the past in so far as her death and the botch investigation of it.

    1. I don't believe you... all that laying out how far away you are but the family should move on? Really?

    2. annnnnnnnnnnnnnd you didn't mention even one thing about the program.

  2. Don't believe me where i live? why not? That is just silly. I have no connection to the place nor the people involved. The family say she was murdered.The investigation was bungled from the start, Evidence was mishandled. And yes being a cop he could have staged it this way etc Fine but there is still not enough evidence to point and say the police bf did it. You need to convict someone with 12 independent people with no connection to the family, or to the people involved, saying guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It must be based on the evidence not just how people feel. Take the gun. None of his DNA was on it. That is highly suspicious. His gun, he should have touched it and left some DNA on it. It reeks of a cleaning to remove suspicion,,, but... any good defense lawyer will spin 10 other explanations all of which could equally be true. The fact that is was in a holster that a medical doctor could not open, just means the doctor does not know how to open it, it does not mean she did not know how to open it and it certainly does not mean he killed her. In order to convict him of murder you need to be able on the basis of the evidence exclude all other options ie reasonable doubt and paint a single story for the jury. That is criminal law. OJ was found not guilty even though he was convicted of it by popular opinion. JonBenét Ramsey another innocent equally worthy if justice would also not get it. Too many investigation and simple too much reasonable doubt to find any one person guilty. In the end, unlike a TV show, the crusading DA, CSI or Coroner do not find the one piece of evidence the uniquely links a person to the crime. It rarely happens in real life and no one is going to take such a weak case as this to court, The family can believe what they want, as can you, but it is not healthy to dwell on such a sad subject. You can come up with all the conspiracy theories you like about the events of that night, and any one of them might be right, however, it wont get a criminal conviction and it would not be the closure the family needs. So yes living in that sort of past is bad for ones mental health and there is the daughter to think of as well, Move out of the city, the state but put some distance from that crime and the police who live there, None of this is a happy conclusion, but after 3 failed investigations, local, state, and a new DA and even the journalists from FL and NYT, the chance of a conviction are slim to none, and that is the sad fact of the matter. No amount of dwelling on the matter is going to get this story to a happy conclusion. And all the attention in the world is not going to get another agency to look into this. Lastly, the faint glimmer of hope... Scott Peterson was convicted of his wife`s murder when he talked and made threats to another women,,, if the bf did the crime he will also in time be caught and the family should take no comfort in that at all for that may take years or may never happen,,,So if the choice is dwelling in a dark angry place or moving on... you decide

    1. Fortunately, you are not in charge of this case going to trial. For you to claim no relation to this case, yet try so hard to discourage our fight for Justice, I dont believe you either. We will not give up, nor forget.

  3. From the Gawker article,

    Here's the Difference Between a Crap Local Paper and the New York Times

    When you get smoked that hard in your own back yard, it's hard to know what the hell to say. Having done several tours of duty as a small town weekly newspaper editor, I just begin to imagine the horrible sinking feeling the St. Augustine newspaper people must have felt in reading that story. All that's left to do is give up and write dazed meditations on how weird it is to see your lunch being eaten on the front page of the nation's best newspaper. 12/04/13 5:41pm

    I read the Times piece, then watched the doc they co-produced with Frontline. I highly, highly recommend both. I'm glad the jackass writers at the Record are eating crow — the whole fucking city of St. Augustine should be ashamed. This story is one of the most fucked up things I've read/seen lately, which considering the news these days, is saying a lot. I highly, highly recommend it, especially if you're looking to stoke some righteous anger about the thin blue line, treatment of domestic violence in the criminal justice system, and corruption and collusion in government. 12/04/13 6:04pm

    That episode of Frontline had my jaw dropping the whole time. Everyone should watch it. This story needs to be national news, this is the kind of shit Court tv SHOULD be covering.12/04/13 6:14pm

    I haven't see the PBS program yet but the Times article is an interesting read. You are right - it definitely stokes the fires of righteous indignation.

    I <3 Frontline. Best in-depth television news magazine there is, bar none. 12/04/13 7:00pm

    Thanks to your recommendation I just finished watching the documentary. What a fucking travesty. The cop who (let's face it) shoots and kills a woman gets a year's paid leave, while the cop who loses his temper and protests is fired? And someone wants us to feel "visceral pain" at the thought of possibly jailing an ~innocent~ cop? I hope to God the increased attention on this case will be enough to finally bring charges. 12/04/13 8:33pm

    I just finished watching the Frontline piece. I have to admit, I was on the fence about it being murder or suicide (I was 100% convinced the police conducted the investigation wrong), but when I saw the part with gun forensic guy and that his test shot of firing the pistol upside down drew blood on his hand I was positive it was murder. 12/04/13 8:53pm

    I'm amazed the televised version didn't make more of his 911 call. At 3:21 in the video, listen to his voice change. Listen to him say, "listen, hang on, let me tell you the truth." Another officer interviewed on the show recalled him angry at the scene instead of sad. Notice that when the dispatcher keeps referring to him as a m'am he drops the high pitch, insists she call him sir, and AFTER changing his tone, says "let me tell you the truth." I won't be surprised if by now there's insufficient surviving evidence to bring him to trial, but this does not sound like the behavior of a victim of a lover's suicide. Changing his tone and insisting that he's one of the police and just to have them arrive sounds like the action of someone concerned for their reputation rather than distraught at a surprising sudden death. Also, not to be anal, but there was not blood everywhere. It was remarkably clean. Did he think there would be? Everything about this call is incorrect. 12/05/13 2:22am

    Florida Times-Union
    Posted: December 10, 2013 - 3:35pm
    [Excerpts] The mishandled investigation into the shooting death of a deputy’s girlfriend has thrust the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office into the national spotlight... What is hardly disputed is that the investigation had major flaws... Following an autopsy, the medical examiner at first ruled the death a suicide, but after he was shown additional evidence, he later signed an amended death certificate calling it homicide. Still later, he called it suicide again. The case is rife with contradictions, accusations of police covering for their own... Central to the narrative is St. Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar, who **after** learning about inquiries by the Times ordered a 152-page review of his office’s actions that attempted to counter theories and evidence undermining a finding of suicide... The most egregious mistake in the handling of the case was Shoar’s failure to immediately ask an outside agency to investigate the death of a deputy’s girlfriend, who witnesses said had complained about being abused by Banks... and why some departments, including Shoar’s, fail to follow suggested guidelines for dealing with abuse... Michelle had sent a text shortly before her death saying she was leaving Banks and would soon be on her way to pick up her 4-year-old daughter... Under pressure from the family and others, Shoar asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in January 2011 to conduct an independent review of O’Connell’s death. Within days, FDLE turned up two witnesses who separately said they were smoking cigarettes in a nearby home’s garage on Sept. 2 when they heard two people yelling, then a woman screaming “help,” followed by a gun shot, then “help” again, followed by another gun shot. Each passed a polygraph test... DNA... a cut above O’Connell’s right eye... medical examiner, Frederick Hobin... medical examiner Predrag Bulic... [Crime scene reconstructionist Jerry] Findley concluded the evidence was not consistent with suicide but was consistent with homicide. Dominic Pape, the head of FDLE’s Jacksonville office, wrote to Brad King, the state attorney assigned to handle the case, asking King for a formal inquest. But King refused... Gov. Rick Scott should order a comprehensive investigation and a formal inquest into O’Connell’s death. Unless that is done, Banks and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office will remain under a cloud of suspicion, largely because the Sheriff’s Office handled the case badly and failed to call in an outside agency at the outset.

  5. I did a bit of tweeting today (26 Augis, 2014) on the psychology of this case. My handle on twitter: documax

  6. I watched this program again (rebroadcast) which drove me to their petition. This case definitely needs to be reopened and reexamined by an independent agency. Shoar has way too much power for his own good.

    I'm left wishing that the inquest succeeds, and that the next time there's an election in St. Augustine, SOMEONE challenges/runs against Shoar and defeats this corrupt individual. He has no place running a police force when he isn't conducting honest investigations. Too many mistakes on this one to be a coincidence, I think.

    1. Hey I totally agree with your above statement & am wondering where I can find this petition online to sign? Or if it is still open to be signed I just saw this on Netflix and be4 watching this Frontline episode I never even heard of this suspicious case

  7. I watched the piece... I'm absolutely disgusted by the lack of investigation from the Sheriffs department.
    I believe that no one will ever be charged. Which is unfortunate, because I believe Ms. O'Connell was murdered.
    I grew up in a law enforcement family and know how tight knit officers get. I believe if this same exact outline would have happened in a different town at the same time, the results would have been pretty much the same. Police have a low tolerance for ANYONE going against one of their fellow officers. They protect and serve themselves. They believe there is a different interpretation of the law, when it comes to their actions. I'm not saying all police are 'for their fellow officers' regardless of circumstances...I'm saying they are few and far between.


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