THEIR VIEW: What the killing of a witness has to teach us

Published on Monday, 14 October 2019 20:25
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When a witness in a murder case is himself murdered just days after a high-profile trial, it is both right and appropriate for a community to want answers and want answers quickly. And so it is with Joshua Brown. But, now, as details surrounding his murder dribble out, we hope there is a lesson in all of this for all of us. Actually, we see two lessons.

First, what should be top of mind for all involved - and this includes community leaders whose comments have the power to rally the people - is that in all cases, we are better off when cooler heads prevail. In this instance, there was rampant speculation with too little information. Some of that speculation came with the insinuation that Brown’s murder was somehow connected to his testimony in the Amber Gugyer trial.

If that had turned out to be the case, it would have been beyond troubling and critically important for a peaceful society that the authorities find those responsible and bring them to justice. No murder should be tolerated, but targeting witnesses is a direct attack on our justice system. But to speculate wildly without any facts is itself destructive. It needlessly undermines the trust that is essential for our civil institutions to function, and therefore it harms all of us.

Now we are seeing that investigators have concluded that Joshua Brown’s murder was tied up in a “drug deal gone bad,” something that had nothing to do with what might be the highest profile murder trial Dallas has ever seen. Here are the facts we know now. The Dallas Police Department has identified three suspects who allegedly traveled to Dallas from Louisiana to engage in a drug sale. That is not a conspiracy to retaliate against a witness but another separate violent crime.

And that brings us to our second takeaway. Joshua Brown was a resident of Dallas and a person who deserves justice. If it is later proven that he was himself engaged in criminal activity, no one should be sanguine or dismissive of his murder. When we turn a blind eye to violent crime - even when it comes in the commission of other crimes - we undermine the rule of law and allow violence to creep back into our streets. It should be clear that violence against any person is an offense against our community.

Brown’s murderer or murderers need to face justice, and we as a community need to absorb the tragedy that befell him. Hard facts in life are often hard to accept, so it may be tempting to dismiss Brown’s murder as if it isn’t a crime against us all. That’s shortsighted and misses the point of our criminal justice system. Every effort needs to be undertaken to close the murder case of Joshua Brown in a way that brings justice to everyone responsible.

The Dallas Morning News



Posted in The Bristol Press, Editorials on Monday, 14 October 2019 20:25. Updated: Monday, 14 October 2019 20:27.