Help Officer Mike Ferguson Receive Justice
RCMP Officer Convicted of Manslaughter for Shooting the Prisoner Who Gained Control of His Sidearm - A Grave Miscarriage of Justice
(photo - Former Mountie Mike Ferguson prepares for four year prison term)
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In 1999 in a remote town in Alberta, Canada, RCMP Cst. Mike Ferguson shot and killed an intoxicated prisoner who had attempted to take his sidearm. The story of that incident and how Mike Ferguson was charged and convicted of manslaughter will astound you. After three trials and two hung juries, with improperly prepared and underpaid legal representation who refused assistance from the best and brightest minds in the field of use-of-force issues, Mike Ferguson was convicted of manslaughter and is being sent to prison under the mandatory sentencing guidelines for Criminal Use of a Firearm. There is even evidence that in the third trial, one or more members of the jury may have been intimidated into voting for Ferguson's conviction.
The main issue upon which this verdict was decided stems from the fact that Cst. Ferguson shot an intoxicated man who was trying to take his gun. He fired a total of two times - each shot fired within approximately two seconds of each other. The jury found that the first shot was JUSTIFIED - that he was frightened of death or great bodily harm. The second shot was found to be excessive - that Ferguson was, a mere two seconds later, no longer frightened. From what has been learned through discussions with some who were close to the case, Ferguson may have made self incriminating statements believing that the system would "understand." It is not the system's place to "understand." It acted based on all of the available information, and more than a large helping of misinformation - mythology, conjecture, flat-out misconception. But act, it did. And now there is a dangerous precedent on the books.
Mike Ferguson was convicted and sentenced to two years less one day to be served in the community by the trial judge.The Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the judge's sentence and on September 25, 2006, Mike Ferguson was ordered back into custody to begin a four year sentence - in prison.
The system that has done this is sadly behind the times when it comes to the hard science of dynamic encounters and the psychology of lethal encounters. This decision cannot go unchallenged. It may well be that there was no maliciousness in the prosecution of Mike Ferguson, but the effect is that this decision sets a dangerous precedent for law enforcement and creates unnecessary hesitation in police officers faced with similar circumstances. The core issues must be addressed, and the actions of Mike Ferguson must be vindicated.
Whether or not Mike Ferguson truly understands all of the factors that were operating in those terrible seconds pales in comparison with what the simple actions ultimately were ... an intoxicated, emotionally unstable, combative individual tried to take his gun, and he reacted appropriately within a reasonable timeframe, shooting and as a result killing his assailant. Distilling out all of the emotional byproduct of shattered lives, by all standards of tactics and training, he did well and now he is paying a terrible price for his peak performance, primarily due to a lack of training as to what he could expect in the aftermath and what should or should not have been said or done. This is not a deficiency of character ... it is a systemic deficiency which remains uncorrected within many agencies of many nations.
Mike may never be able to adequately articulate what happened that day, but should that make him a criminal? The guy that claimed to have killed Jon Benet Ramsey was vindicated of that crime by hard science. Mike Ferguson might have made some inappropriate statements at a time when he was psychologically and emotionally unprepared to do so. Some of those flawed or incorrect perceptions could easily be dispelled by simple scientific demonstrations or psychological explanations. If we can turn loose a confessed child murderer based on what we can prove scientifically, do we owe Mike Ferguson any less?
This is a sad day for law enforcement and a sad day for society since the decisions made in this case will make the citizens less safe. If in light of the Ferguson debacle a police officer will not place him or herself in harm's way in defence of the citizenry for fear of being imprisoned by that citizenry after taking lawful action, civilization is in grave danger. The Ferguson decision will have the chilling effect of staying the trigger finger at a critical moment. Edmund Burke tells us "All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to stand by and do nothing." If this decision is allowed to stand, it is a virtual certainty that when facing evil during future dangerous encounters, good men will either 'opt out' (at this point in Canada, if an armed or dangerous individual is approaching a Canadian point of entry, the unarmed Customs and Border Protection officers are permitted to exercise their right to walk off the job due to unsafe working conditions - although there is a plan in the works to arm them now) or worse - stand fast but do nothing.
Please download and read the open letter on this subject. Email it to all of your contacts and check back for details on how to help. More resources are in the works, so please stay informed and in touch on this one. This site is only the temporary site until something more permanent can be arranged. We at Armiger want to do what we can to support Mike Ferguson (and by extension ALL officers - and hence society in general) following this terrible ordeal and unjust decision.