Any Ol' Confession will do!

"I can't believe they did that, and then justified it!!!", my wife overhears me while reading a news blurb about yet another travesty of justice.  "Why do you act so shocked? You know that goes on all the time." 

Yes, unfortunately, I know all too well. But I don't want to stop being shocked just because I've heard it before with slightly different details.  Unfortunately, you don't have to look very far, like this one: Kosgar Lado is a 21-year-old Sudanese refugee in Lansing, MI, who was another victim of cross racial misidentification. And to top it off, he's mentally ill. We know that mentally challenged people are 9 times more likely to be bullied into a false confession, which is pretty much what happened here. This is the center of Lado's "confession" to Hogan, his interrogator:

Hogan: “Why, why did this happen?”Kosgar Lado
 
Lado: “I don’t know.”
 
Hogan: “Why him?”
 
Lado: “I don’t know.”
 
Hogan: “Oh please, it’s not gonna help you.”
 
Lado: “I just shot him.”
 
Lado then begins to cry, according to the transcript.
 
At the end of interrogation, however, Lado twice tells Hogan, “I didn’t shoot nobody.”

 

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You don't have to hear or see on video the "confession" to know that Lado was probably saying with a lot of frustration and sarcasm, "OK, OK, you want me to say I shot him? Then 'I just shot him'. Now, leave me alone!". That was his "confession". Anyone can read the transcript and know that, despite those four words, Lado was categorically denying that he had anything to do with it. But law enforcement, at times, can act like a bully with a grade school maturity level. You can almost hear their inner voices screaming, "Ha! We got him!", and nothing else, no amount of explanation can change their minds that Lado just admitted doing the crime.

 

It just so happens in this case that a few detectives had their doubts and continued to investigate. They found the real killer, so they let Lado go . . . . Right? Nah, that didn't happen. After bullying Lado into a "confession", when they discover they are wrong, do they admit that they just induced a false confession and they need to review their tactics? Instead, the Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings is charging him with lying to a police officer, a felony offense with up to 4 years jail time! 
 
Something tells me that the combination of how outrageous this is, plus Lado's mental condition, plus that the media now has put a spotlight on the behavior of the officers and the prosecutor, that this is not going to stick. But that doesn't change the outrageous behavior of the police and it doesn't undo four months in jail, including one month in solitary confinement, that has decimated this man who already had his share of problems.
 
How would you feel if one of your young adult children was taken down to the police station to have a little talk with the detectives?   Click here for more details of this story
 
How we respond
Before I end this, I want  to point out that there is a silver lining. It's very likely that if this had happened 20 years ago, we never would have heard about it. Lado would have gone to prison for most of the rest of his life, and if they found the real killer, they may have chosen to charge him with another crime, rather than admit that they made a mistake with Lado. As more and more wrongful convictions come to light, our society is beginning to acknowledge that something is seriously wrong. Wrongful convictions simply happen too often, and for very identifiable reasons, such as our awareness of false confessions and how often it happpens and what conditions cause them.
 
This is not a time in our history to be complacent. We're beginning to see things much more clearly and we need to be involved and foster healthy change. We need people to contribute financially to organizations like Proving Innocence, because often the ones who this kind of thing happens to are poor and do not have the resources to fight this on their own.  PI depends on your support to be able to investigate cases and to raise the awareness of the average citizen, so even more step forward and take ownership of the continual effort to have a just society.
 
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”  -Benjamin Franklin
 
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