Criminal Justice

Prosecutor Wants to Apologize to Wrongly Accused Man, Cops Insist the System Worked

Cornealious Anderson was arrested and charged even though he had dozens of alibi. The prosecutor's investigation found problems in the police investigation.

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In November police in St. Louis were looking for a black male wearing Nike sneakers and a hoodie who was accused of snatching a purse at a local White Castle. Thirty minutes later a patrol officer stopped and arrested Cornealious Anderson on his way to his car from a birthday party. Anderson, black, was wearing a leather jacket and boots and insisted he had dozens of alibis at the birthday party he had left.

Police didn't check on Anderson's alibi. Instead they took him to the scene of the crime, where they say the victim and two witnesses identified Anderson on the spot, later doing so in a line-up. Anderson's lawyer criticized police for bringing Anderson to the scene of the crime, saying it was "one of the most suggestive things" police could've done. The lawyer also claims police put Anderson in a line-up full of other people that looked nothing like him.

After the identification, police said they didn't feel a need to follow upon Anderson's alibi claim because there was "no doubt" in their mind about the identification, according to a police officer who spoke with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The charges against Anderson were dropped when the prosecutor's investigation revealed problems with the police investigation, which is why the prosecutor wants to apologize. Not the police department though, as The Post-Dispatch reports:

"The system worked the way it was designed to work and at the end he was released without going to trial," Caruso said. "In this case their investigation uncovered some things that ours didn't—and that's part of the system—and based on that information, the charges were dropped."…

"The officers acted in good faith," Caruso emphasized, noting that police can hold someone only a day without charges, and that they met the probable cause standard needed for charges.

He said the department plans to turn Anderson's case into a "teachable moment."

But he would not go as far as to say police erred. "Do I feel the wrong person was arrested? I can't answer that," Caruso said. "I can just say the system worked at the end of the day."

"The system" can deprive an innocent person of their freedom and those paid to uphold it will say it worked because eventually that person was freed. In the meantime, cops can kill on duty without even the worry of temporarily losing their paychecks as a consequence, because that's the kind of "system" they've arranged for themselves. While the prosecutor wants to apologize to Anderson and the police don't, the prosecutor says St. Louis' police chief told her he was taking "full accountability" for the incident. But his police department won't even cop to making a mistake, so what could "accountability" possibly mean in his mind?

The 38-year-old Anderson, incidentally, was found in April to have not served a 13-year sentence he was supposed to start in 2002 because of a clerical error. He was eventually spared having to do the time. In May a judge ordered his release from prison.

h/t Mark Sletten

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  1. Having “dozens of alibis” is actually pretty incriminating. Is English your second language Ed?

    1. alibi
      [al-uh-bahy]
      IPA Syllables
      Synonyms Examples Word Origin
      noun, plural alibis.
      1.
      Law. the defense by an accused person of having been elsewhere at the time an alleged offense was committed.
      2.
      an excuse, especially to avoid blame.
      3.
      a person used as one’s excuse:
      My sick grandmother was my alibi for missing school.

      Grammar nazi fail.

      1. I’d say to use #3 in a news context, you’d need a pretty good alibi. It’s like saying that because dictionaries include as one of the definitions of “married” conditions similar to being married in the usual sense, that means marriage must include same sex marriage legally. You don’t get to shoehornstrap metaphoric, imprecise, or colloquial use of a word into a situation that demands precision.

        You like “shoehornstrap”? I just now portmanteaud shoehorn w bootstrap.

  2. “‘Do I feel the wrong person was arrested? I can’t answer that,’ Caruso said.”

    I don’t think Mr. Caruso should be in law enforcement if he cannot determine whether or not a person innocent of a crime should have been arrested.

    1. The answer is plainly yes. [/cop worshiper]

    2. “Do I feel the wrong person was arrested? I can’t answer that,” Caruso said.

      Um, isn’t this fact the whole reason that there is a story here?

    3. That is pathological. How bad do you have to be in order to not admit the thing that is obvious to everyone?

      It isn’t like they will be charged or prosecuted for admitting that the cops stepped on their dicks.

  3. Weird, I just read about this guy on Cracked.

    1. Has Cracked been any good lately? Used to read it a lot in college but then it got all social-justicey and boring and stopped being funny.

      1. Honestly, I think it’s going downhill fast. It’s more a lack of new stuff to write about than anything else, though. I don’t think “all social-justicey” is a fair criticism just yet, though.

        1. Only 90% social-justicey, with a sprinkling of unfunny podcasts.

          I wish they had a lobby for Seanbaby to take a shit in.

  4. OT: Norway will not criminalize begging or giving to beggars after all. http://www.thelocal.no/2015020…..-roma-tsar

    1. Beggars in a socialist paradise? Heavens to Murgatroyd, that just cannot be!

  5. As a great man once said: If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear from a lengthy investigation conducted at a leisurely pace while you sit in jail.

    1. and lose your job, your wife, your home and possibly custody of any children since if your in jail you are obviously a threat. but other than that everything is okay.

  6. If there is a stink, we must investigate. We must gather evidence because evidence makes us see the truth. Is this the stink of a criminal act, or is it a turd in a bag?

    I see cops who lose their way every day, and I don’t like that,
    because their ambivalence is contagious. They infect those around them. They’re like maggots. Where you find one, you find a nest.
    — Robert De Niro in Cop Land (1997).

  7. “Look, we hassled a guy for a crime he didn’t commit, failed to do any procedural work to vet his alibi, and later had to cut him loose. What more do you jackals want!?”

    1. …and other thank being Black, he fit the description of the perp how?

  8. He said the department plans to turn Anderson’s case into a “teachable moment.”

    Why on earth would it possibly be a “teachable moment” if “the officers acted in good faith” and “the system worked the way it was supposed to”?

    1. It’s a case of almost getting away with it.

      1. I see. So it’s a “teachable moment” insofar as they want to teach cops to make sure the prosecutors go along more blindly.

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  10. “a black male wearing Nike sneakers and a hoodie …”

    That narrows it down quite a bit. There can’t possibly be more than tens of thousands of people in St. Louis who fit that description. Maybe it’s deliberately vague so the cops can pick out whoever they want.

    1. That narrows it down quite a bit. There can’t possibly be more than tens of thousands of people in St. Louis who fit that description. aybe it’s deliberately vague so the cops can pick out whoever they want.

      Ding ding ding!

    2. Reminds me of that one Dave Chappelle skit

    3. Yet Anderson was wearing a leather jacket, and boots….
      Close enough for government work.

  11. looking for a black male wearing Nike sneakers and a hoodie

    That criteria…um…really narrows it down…

  12. This is typical of how Blacks are treated in urban areas run by racist Republicans.
    No wonder Ferguson happened./s

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