Man Arrested for Defending His Life With a Gun?
A Miscarriage of Justice
Police are necessary for the future of society. Our boys in blue are needed, especially during the current unrest sweeping much of the country. However, the application of justice isn't perfect, especially during the heat of a potential crime. During high-stress situations, especially when time is of the essence, police make errors, too. That's what happened to Afghanistan vet Matt Solon, arrested unjustly and detained for 35 hours.
Blurred Justice recently completed a documentary on a high profile case of Matt Solon. Solon defended his girlfriend, friend, and his date when confronted by a gunman with a pistol. According to surveillance footage, the gunman confronted the four innocent people with a pistol. Solon, an Afghanistan vet, disarmed the gunman and struck the gunman with his own gun. However, the local police acted with callous disregard for public safety.
Solon was the one that called the police, yet he was the one mistreated. That night, Solon was handcuffed and arrested for defending himself and his friends. Furthermore, the gunman was not detained that night. The security footage shows the conflict between the gunman and Solon. Solon was charged with using a firearm in the commission of a crime, even though he unloaded the firearm during the conflict.
A Legal Recourse for a Combat Vet?
While the police acted poorly, the Cobb County District Attorney declined to prosecute the case. Although the police did not arrest the gunman that night, he was arrested a month later. Even more troubling was the fact that the gunman, Dwight Cooper, was handed back his pistol that night. He was drunk and disoriented after the fight. His original bond impositions allowed the attacker to have a gun. It showed that he was likely drunk during the confrontation. He also had marijuana in large quantities and an open bottle of vodka. His bond provisions still allowed him to have a gun.
What About Matt Solon's Inherent Rights?
What are Matt Solon's options? On the one hand, he has the ability to sue Cooper for his intentional use of a firearm to create an unsafe situation. Furthermore, Cooper's actions directly led to Solon's unjust arrest. But what readers may be asking themselves is what can Solon do to the Cobb County police department? Unjust imprisonment (or arrest) is a serious issue. It's also one that police officers at every level are trained against.
Handcuffing someone in the aftermath of a fight is one thing-- but holding him in a jail cell for an unclear criminal charge is unacceptable. The fact that the DA's office wouldn't prosecute the crime means that Solon's rights were infringed upon. Officers likely violated his Constitutional rights. Solon would be within reason to sue the Department for their flagrant disregard for his testimony and that of the three people along with him.
The combat vet has rights too. The police forgot about that. A civil suit for dereliction of duty by a public official may be in order. And may also prevent something like this from happening again. We have to trust the police. They have to also trust the public. This balance means a better society. It also protects our rights.