by Joyce Tremel
This week I've been following the murder trial of Leslie Mollett, who is accused of murdering Pennsylvania State Trooper Joseph Pokorny on December 12, 2005. Nine minutes after pulling a car over for speeding, Cpl. Pokorny was shot and killed execution style with his own weapon.
According to the prosecution, the defendant was stopped with two other passengers by Cpl. Pokorny. A scuffle between the officer and the defendant ensued, and when Cpl. Pokorny used his OC spray, the defendant grabbed the trooper's arm and directed the spray back at him. The defendant then took Cpl. Pokorny's gun and shot him. The first shot went through his side (missing his vest) and through both lungs. Cpl. Pokorny then dropped to his knees and put his hands in the air. The defendant then shot him in the back of the head.
Witnesses who were in the vehicle with the defendant took off when the scuffle began, but heard the shots fired. One witness stated that the defendant then called him on his cell phone stating the officer "got three to the head."
One of the things that makes my skin crawl(other than the murder itself), is the defendant's lawyer playing the race card. He seems to think that since the victim was white and the defendant is black, it makes everything okay. It doesn't matter that there's a ton of physical evidence, DNA, etc. He doesn't want people getting "caught up in the undercurrent of emotion." Right.
For more details on the case, including the Affidavit of Probable Cause see this link to the Post-Gazette coverage. If you have the stomach for it, listen to Cpl. Pokorny's last radio transmission.
Cpl. Pokorny was a seasoned state trooper with 22 years of service. He was well aware and well versed in the dangers involved in what most people would call a routine traffic stop.
There is no such thing as a routine traffic stop, or routine anything in police work. According the the National Law Enforcement Memorial website, "A total of 1,649 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of one death every 53 hours or 165 per year. There were 145 law enforcement officers killed in 2006."
I know that not every police officer is a candidate for sainthood, but most of them are not in it for the glory, and certainly not for the money. Most of them really do want to protect and serve.