Editorial comment

No shame in lessons learned

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Peter Brill, the defense attorney for former Det. Kevin Spellman, has argued that officers were being overly cautious when they suspected him of drinking the morning he crashed into and killed a Kingsbridge woman. 

Mr. Brill has argued that supervisors at the scene were not really assessing the Riverdalian’s behavior, instead they had their minds on a Brooklyn case the month before, in which ex-cop Andrew Kelly — who killed with his car after having too much to drink — was not tested until seven hours after the crash and responding officers were accused of helping him sober up.

“They were thinking about officer Kelly,” he said.    

Nevermind that it is highly unlikely that this is true — Mr. Spellman had been in a local bar after he signed off at midnight and allegedly smelled like alcohol, slurred his speech and was unsteady on his feet.

But what if the previous incident had been a factor in the officers’ minds as they responded to the scene? What if they were particularly cautious about the appearance of impropriety and of taking all the necessary steps to follow protocol? 

Would that really be so bad? 

 

Even though the responding supervisors are being criticized for doing what the defense claims the first officers on the scene did not — treat Mr. Spellman like a suspect — two witnesses who saw the immediate aftermath of the incident said they felt the detective was not treated like an ordinary citizen.

“They didn’t arrest [the detective] right away or anything,” Ron Jerome, 21, told The Press in 2009. Mr. Jerome said he saw Mr. Spellman walking around and talking on a mobile phone. “If it was a citizen, he would have been in cuffs by then. The woman was dead. That’s not right,” he said. 

 

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