Undercurrents | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


You shouldn't wave a gun at police and expect anything good to happen. But citizens should expect police will do everything they can to prevent a tragedy such as the one that put Jimmy Lee Thompson in a grave last week. The obviously distraught man brandished an unloaded pistol and created a half-hour standoff on Sistrunk Boulevard. It ended with Thompson receiving three bullets from Fort Lauderdale police officers.

Cops have the right to shoot only if their lives or the lives of others are clearly in jeopardy. The police argue that bystanders on Sistrunk might have been shot if Thompson's gun had been loaded. Suggestion: How about you do your job and clear out the area for a couple of blocks and take that possibility away? Next, place all officers behind patrol cars, and unless Thompson charges at the officers with his gun pointed right at them, there's no reason to open fire. And if he was waving the gun around for 30minutes, why did all three officers choose the same moment to shoot? Could it be that the cops became anxious while the angry and vocal crowd was building and that anxiety spurred the shooting rather than Thompson's actions?

Also, earlier this year New Times reported that the department had purchased the Sage gun, which fires a four-inch-wide rubber bullet (it feels like a 120 mph fastball) that disables suspects but doesn't kill them. Why wasn't that used? Cops also say when they do fire, it's shoot to kill or nothing. Why is that? If they must fire, a shot into the leg would have brought him down and saved a life.

As it is, brandishing an unloaded gun in Fort Lauderdale amounts to a death penalty.

Don't you just love Hollywood? If it weren't for that shimmering jewel of a city by the sea, we'd have fewer ethical issues to ponder in these pages.

The latest buzz is that mayor Mara Giulianti had a hand in getting Miami Herald reporter Julie Kay pulled out of Hollywood because she didn't like the negative (read: unflattering to Mara) stories Kay was writing. Some whispered in our ear that Giulianti met with Herald editors and was actually taking credit for getting Kay bounced over to the less prestigious Pembroke Pines beat.

According to sources at a July6 meeting, Giulianti closed the session by gloating about Kay's reassignment. "She said 'I know she'll be looking for a new job, ha haha,'" says one Hollywood resident.

Giulianti didn't return phone calls. Kay did, but she wasn't talking. Rick Hirsch, the Herald's Broward County managing editor, bristled at the suggestion that he makes personnel decisions based on the dictates of people in power. "We have long covered Hollywood aggressively," Hirsch says. "We will continue to cover Hollywood aggressively." Does he meet with city leaders, including Giulianti? "Constantly." Hmmm. Does Giulianti hold any sway with him? "Hell, no." Kay, he says, was just the last in a line of Herald reporters who've moved on from Hollywood to better things. But Pembroke Pines?

Of course gloating about a reporter you didn't like being taken off a beat and taking credit for getting it done are two different things. The first is the mark of a boor. The second reeks of collusion between a governmental entity and the fourth estate, which, if true, should send a shudder down the spine of every red-blooded American, journalist or otherwise. With no hard evidence of the latter, we'll have to go with the former.

as told to Tom Walsh

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