[Pnews] Bounty Hunters Are a Lethal Weapon in a Justice System Corrupted by Money

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 19 12:10:26 EDT 2019


  Bounty Hunters Are a Lethal Weapon in a Justice System Corrupted by Money

Shaun King - August 18, 2019

_Today, I live_ in Brooklyn, but I didn’t grow up in New York. I’m 
country. I grew up in a small Kentucky town and was a part of a church 
that taught us a verse from the Bible that says “the love of money is 
the root of all evil.” For my whole life, even as my faith has 
struggled, I’ve held on to that verse and have believed that wherever we 
find evil, we’ll always find a money trail somewhere nearby.

And I have long since believed that profit, jobs, and wealth are at the 
center of the explosive growth of America’s mass incarceration crisis – 
and not just with jails, prisons, and police, but with the offshoot 
industries that survive and thrive on the back of our crooked legal 
system. One of these crooked industries involves bounty hunters, and 
there’s been an incredible injustice with a group of them killing an 
innocent man in Tennessee and avoiding any real punishment for it.

Jalen Johnson Milan was a beloved 24-year-old father of three young 
children in Clarksville, Tennessee, about an hour north of Nashville. 
Two years ago, on a spring evening in April of 2017, Jalen and some 
buddies, including his cousin, Jaden Hogan, who was driving, took a trip 
to the local Walmart where they ended up parking next to a car that had 
a drug informant inside named Kirsten Mahon.

When I say “drug informant,” am I right that your first assumption is 
that this is about to be a story on a police sting gone awry? You’d 
think so, but this was something altogether different.

According to surveillance video 
from the Walmart, within seconds of pulling into that parking spot, 
their car was surrounded by seven men who frantically yelled from every 
side, telling Jalen and his friends to get out of their car. The seven 
men had guns drawn. One of the men who surrounded the vehicle smashed 
open a window. Freaking out, Jaden Hogan, the driver, backed out of the 
parking spot, and then mashed the gas to the floor, so that he could get 
them all away from these men with guns.

They didn’t know if it was a gang, robbers, or police surrounding them, 
but it was clear their lives were in danger. Put yourself in that 
position, and imagine your car being surrounded by seven rough-looking 
dudes with guns drawn who did not identify themselves as police. What 
would you do?

When Jaden sped away, two of the seven men who surrounded the car, 
Joshua Young and Roger West Jr., unloaded their guns, firing shot after 
Jaden, the driver, was hit in the neck, and Jalen was mortally wounded, 
with a bullet ripping through his heart and lungs. Investigators later 
tested every bullet at the scene and determined that they all appeared 
to have been fired by Young and West, according to reporting by The Leaf 
Chronicle, a newspaper in Clarksville that has provided consistent 
coverage of the case.

Those seven men got into their car, and for nearly seven miles they 
chased their prey through Clarksville. Jaden Hogan, the wounded driver, 
frantically called 911 from the parking lot before the chase was even 
fully underway, telling the operator that they had been surrounded and 
shot by a group of men, and that they were fleeing for their lives, 
speeding down a local road. But here’s the weird thing: The shooters 
also called 911 saying that they were in an emergency situation as they 
claimed to be chasing down a local drug dealer named William Ellis.

With both parties on the phone with 911, one of the dispatch operators 
advised the injured men to pull their car over and surrender to the men 
who just shot them. But remember this: The shooters weren’t police 
officers. They weren’t FBI officials or from the Drug Enforcement 
Administration. They hadn’t been to anybody’s police academy, and they 
damn sure weren’t supervised by any serious government agency.

They were a ragtag group of bounty hunters and bail bondsmen who were 
searching for a man named William Ellis who owed them a lot of money 
because he had skipped bail on two different occasions — leaving debts 
of thousands of dollars to the bail bondsmen. They had paid a desperate 
local sex worker, Kirsten Mahon, who struggled with drug addiction, to 
set up a fake drug deal with Ellis so that they could perform what they 
called a routine “snatch and grab,” possibly squeeze some money out of 
him, and then turn him over to authorities. This is routine work for 
bail bondsmen and bounty hunters.

Except William Ellis wasn’t in the car they had shot and chased; Kirsten 
Mahon later testified that she tipped Ellis off in advance that people 
were looking for him. By the time Jaden Hogan finally pulled his car 
over, his cousin Jalen was already dead. The bullets recklessly fired at 
the car seven miles prior had ripped his insides all up. The bounty 
hunters and bail bondsmen would eventually swear under oath that the men 
in the car shot at them too, but not a single gun was found on their 
prey, not a single shell casing found in their car, and investigators 
determined that every bullet fired appeared to be fired at the victims — 
not from them.

Nine days later, county prosecutors threw the book at the bounty hunters 
and bail bondsmen — charging them with a slew of crimes ranging from 
first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated kidnapping, reckless 
endangerment, and damn near every other charge you can think of. It took 
two years for the case to finally come to trial. It was complicated as 
hell with 50 different witnesses, hundreds of pieces of evidence — and 
two of the seven defendants had flipped, agreeing to testify against the 
other five. Altogether, the five remaining men faced a combined 80 charges.

In the end, earlier this month, a jury found the five men 
not guilty on 79 different charges — only convicting one man, Joshua 
Young, with recklessly firing his gun in the Walmart parking lot. He 
might not even go to jail.

Listen, I’m a prison abolitionist. I’d like to see the whole legal 
system torn down and rebuilt from scratch. But how in hell a group of 
pissed off bounty hunters and bail bondsmen can kill an innocent man, in 
what at very best has to be described as a case of mistaken identity, 
and get away with it, is beyond me. Defense attorneys basically 
suggested 101 conspiracy theories, effectively planting doubts in the 
mind of the jury, that William Ellis really was in that car and 
disappeared somewhere — even though nobody ever saw any such thing 
happen. The attorneys also suggested that the victims really did have 
guns and fired them, even though no evidence whatsoever showed such a 
Their ploy worked — in great part, I believe, because the jurors treated 
the bail bondsmen and bounty hunters like they would have treated law 
enforcement officers, giving them respect and deferring to their storyline.

In the end, it’s gun violence run amok. Jalen Milan was one of the 
nearly 40,000 people 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/us/gun-deaths.html> shot and killed 
that year in our country – which more and more resembles the Wild West. 
And at the center of these past few years, which have been some of the 
deadliest years ever measured for gun violence, with almost no progress 
whatsoever on substantive gun reform, is money. It’s always money. Money 
for campaigns from the NRA. Profits for the firearms industry. Money for 
lobbyists. And again, right at the center of the shooting death of an 
innocent young father, were bounty hunters and bail bondsmen so 
determined to get back their money from a man that they shot a stranger, 
thinking it was him. Guns are a problem, but dammit, the money trail is 
never far behind.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20190819/1b60bf0d/attachment.html>

More information about the PPnews mailing list