Monday, April 30, 2018

Here is another example of Missouri "law men" bringing charges against a victim of police abuse -- in this case, a man cops shot 10 times at his own doorstep

Daniel Wagner
We've shown that a Missouri sheriff and prosecutor conspired to bring a bogus criminal charge against my wife, Carol, after deputies broke her arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015. This is known in the trade as a "cover charge," designed to limit the chances of receiving civil damages for victims of police abuse.

A recent report indicates the use of cover charges is not limited to Carol's case. In fact, it seems to be a prominent part of the toolkit for "law men" in the Missouri Ozarks.

The latest incident involves a Springfield man named Daniel Wagner who answered a knock on his door, only to have two deputies from the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) shoot him 10 times. Somehow, Wagner managed to survive, but he now faces a felony charge of "unlawful use of a weapon," per RSMo 571.030.

You read that correctly: Wagner was shot 10 times -- the deputies apparently had not a scratch on them -- but Wagner is facing a criminal charge. A judge, magistrate, clerk, or hobo apparently signed off on a probable cause statement in the Wagner case with a straight face.

X-ray of Carol Shuler's arm, after
Missouri cops broke it.

And we are not joking about this. Our creativity is much too limited to concoct a story like this. From a story on the Wagner case, by reporter Harrison Keegan, in last week's Springfield News-Leader:

Defense attorneys say Daniel Wagner saw two blobs standing outside of his front door.

After Wagner and his wife heard rustling outside of their home and then a knock at the front door one night in October, Wagner grabbed his .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun and opened the front door.

Those two figures that Wagner saw turned out to be Greene County Sheriff's Office deputies.

After they say Wagner pointed the gun at them, they fired more than 10 rounds through a glass storm door, shooting Wagner.

Wagner survived and was later charged with unlawful use of a weapon.

How did this bizarre scenario unfold? Reports Keegan:

Court documents say the incident started on the night of Oct. 16 when deputies were dispatched to a home in the 2600 block of Vincent Street, southwest of the Springfield city limits, to investigate a bullet hole found in a home.

Documents say a deputy determined the bullet possibly came from the house next door — Wagner's home.

Two deputies then went to Wagner's home, knocked on the front door and at least one of them called out "sheriff's office," according to court documents.

Eventually, documents say, Wagner got up out of a recliner, went to a hallway and then came to the door with a gun in his hand.

The court documents say Wagner raised the gun and pointed it at one of the deputies, at which point they both shot Wagner in the chest.

Wagner allegedly told investigators he had recently watched a news report about rising burglaries and he believed there might be burglars at the door when he approached with a gun.

Prosecutors claim Wagner displayed his gun in a "threatening manner." If that's the case, why is Wagner the one who wound up with 10 bullet holes in him? And since when is it a crime to display your gun in a threatening manner -- inside your own home -- when you think, as Wagner has stated publicly, you think you are about to be the victim of a burglary or home invasion? Oh, wait . . . an officer feared for his life, so that makes 100 percent of the responsibility shift to Wagner. (Sarcasm alert.)

Photo of Carol Shuler's arm, just before
X-rays showed it was broken.
Shane Cantin and Erica Mynarich are Wagner's defense attorneys. They should be able to make hay with the two questions above if they can find a southwest Missouri jury that isn't filled with cop ass-kissers. From the Springfield newspaper, in a report about last week's preliminary hearing:

Sgt. Steve Martin, one of the deputies who opened fire on Wagner, testified during Wednesday's hearing that he yelled out "sheriff's office" twice and that he feared for his life when Wagner raised the gun.

Cantin did not cast blame on the deputies who fired the shots. He said they were put in a tough position, but he also did not feel like Wagner acted inappropriately.

Cantin said Wagner thought the people on his porch might be intruders and he was within his legal rights when he walked to his front door with a gun in hand.

"Everything he did was completely lawful," Cantin said.

Cantin said he was thankful Wagner survived.

What proof was there that the bullet hole came from Wagner or his home? Probably none. Residents around Wagner have described him as a good neighbor. Did the deputies have lawful grounds to be on Wagner's doorstep? Under a strict interpretation of the law, they probably did. But from a common-sense perspective, should they have been on his property -- at roughly 10:30 p.m., in the dark? My answer is no. First, a bullet hole in a house might not even be evidence of a crime. It could have been the result of an accident, and even if it wasn't, how are the cops supposed to solve it -- when the shot might have been fired months (even years) earlier? If cops felt a dire need to talk with Wagner, why not come back to the scene the next day, in the daylight?

As for Carol's case, it's clear deputies had no grounds to be on our rented property, much less breaking into our home and pointing assault weapons and various handguns at us. We've shown that the eviction was unlawful on at least 10 grounds, making it an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Perhaps most importantly, we had timely filed a notice of appeal, with the required fees, putting an automatic stay on execution, under Missouri law.

Carol has been fighting a bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" charge for 15 months. Judge Margaret Palmietto has refused to dismiss the charges, even though Officer Jeremy Lynn (the "victim") admits in a written statement that he initiated contact with Carol, after bursting into our home, not the other way around.

The charge against Carol is a misdemeanor, and prosecutors have taken jail off the table as possible punishment. Still, Carol is at risk of being found guilty of an offense even the "victim" admits she did not commit.

Meanwhile, Daniel Wagner faces up to four years in prison, if convicted. All because he answered a knock from cops on his door late at night, when they easily could have used common sense and come back the next day when it was light -- and the possible offense likely did not even amount to a crime.

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