|Mr. and Mrs. Blue Rammefeld|
“...Lord, we have a great friend in liberty. It is perhaps our greatest friend...” - a lay preacher leading a prayer circle while waiting for a verdict in the case of M/Sgt. C.J. Grisham
Belton – Blue Rammefeld stood up to the gaffe; he squared off with the bench and belted it out as he told Judge Neel Richardson how the cow ate the cabbage.
He had just come out of the judge's chambers – mud in his eye, hot, tired, and frustrated – after an extended conference with prosecutors about pesky disgreements over the jury charge. He reminded the judge that he had not ruled on a motion he made for the Judge's recusal after hearing “your previous statement you made referring to my client and his wife as yokels and how you will teach them a lesson in parenting...”
From that upside down attitude, he continued to gain altitude, adding “You may call me a liar, and it's true I do stand up to bullies. In fact, you can hold me in contempt of court. I brought my toothbrush.”
With that, he tossed the implement of oral hygiene on the defense table as the judge promptly said, “Overruled,” thus nixing the motion for his own ouster.
There were other colorful remarks, including the one about how Officer Steve Ermis of the Temple Police Department discovered the sergeant and his son, Chris, Jr., committing a traffic violation by walking down the wrong side of the country road, their backs to the traffic, and said, “Oh, I get to shoot somebody today because he's walking down the wrong side of the road!”
As to the reactions of his client, a 22-year Army veteran with many deployments overseas to his credit – one of them to Iraq, the other to Afghanistan – he told jurors, it will “have to be up to you to interpret...“This is really about an ordinary person and his son walking down the road – right after someone puts a gun to the back of his head...”
After closing statements, the gallery, the attorneys and the judge settled down to wait while the jury deliberated and, as if by magic, many in the crowd that stood by in the corridor outside the courtroom suddenly obtained toothbrushes – toothbrushes brandished, worn in lapels, carried in shirt pockets, thrust into ladies' hair buns, pinned to blouses.
The entire adventure started off as a Boy Scout hike to earn a merit badge, a father and son out for a stroll on a sunny Saturday in mid-March, patrolling around family farms operated and owned by members of Grisham's extended family where anhydrous ammonia tanks stood as targets for local methamphetamine cooks who operate illicit labs making the foul stuff.
There were dead ringer tip-offs galore, a man and a boy walking together, the man with a red bandana draped under his boonie hat, protecting his neck from sunburn, carrying a prototype semiautomatic assault rifle originally developed by Armalite Arms, the one that morphed into the standard select fire combat carbine, the M-16. A straight arrow picture in a sunny world.
Royal Army General Sir Baden-Powell made the innovation of the Boy Scouts organization for dependent civilian sons of colonizers at war when he was in command of a beseiged garrison at Marfak during the Boer War. Someone had to keep the boys busy in those perilous times, so the general organized their days to keep them out of trouble by carrying messages by bicycle, standing observation posts, fetching, carrying and otherwise making themselves useful under his formidable supervision.
With classic British resolve, the general took the attitude that war is really just all a big part of growing up.
Their uniform – a neckerchief made from a bandanna – is still in use today by Boy Scouts on every continent and in every civilized country. It was used as much for recognition then as much as it is now for at least a hundred and one other purposes in any situation that may crop up in the outdoor life.
When the jurors finally got their final instructions, they were told that they must determine if C.J. Grisham interfered with a public official while in the performance of his duty by acting with criminal negligence, defined as “a gross deviation from the standard of care an ordinary person would exercise” when he “interrupts, disrupts, or otherwise interferes” with a cop who is doing anything - anything at all – most especially disarming a refractory armed citizen.
What did Grisham do? He grabbed his gun and held on when Officer Ermis attempted to take it. He also refused to immediately put his hands behind his back to put on handcuffs when the 30-year veteran of police work said that's what he wanted him to do.
|Toothbrush honor guard|
Who's counting? Lead prosecutor John Gauntt, Jr., told jurors he could see where Grisham did not do what he was told to do with his hands - by his count - at least six times.
Grisham's defense lawyer pointed out it's the third change of charges, charges which were orginally filed by police as resisting arrest, then morphed into carrying a firearm in a rude display calculated to cause alarm, and finally wound up as interfering with a public official while going about his official duties.
“The fact that our office changed the charges is of no consequence,” the prosecutor said; prosecuting attorneys do that routinely.
When you look at the Dashcam video that plainly shows Ermis pulling his semi-auto pistol out of its holster, pressing it to the back of Grisham's neck, then using the leverage to bend him over the hood of the squad car where it came to rest against his upper rib cage while he took his rifle, you are seeing something very distinct, very wrong, said Mr. Gauntt.
“What you see on Officer Ermis' face is fear, the controlled fear of someone who has been an officer for almost 30 years,” Mr. Gauntt declared. “The police didn't create this issue; Sgt. Grisham created this issue.”
Who will represent Sgt. Grisham in the civil suit for official oppression and wrongful arrest that is entirely likely to follow the criminal misdemeanor case?
|Larry Kleiberg, NationalSelfDefense.com|
Larry Kleiberg answered with alacrity. He's put up a million dollar defense contingency fund from his insurance service, NationalSelfDefense.com, a legal defense organization that has agreed to pay for Grisham's court expenses and for those who subscribe to his service if they are hassled by cops for carrying their loaded firearms with them.
“Blue Rammefeld is the lead attorney in my organization,” he said with a smile. “He'll probably be the one to handle it. I hold the leash on a whole bunch of junkyard dog lawyers.”
When jurors still had not agreed on a verdict by 6 p.m., the judge sent them home for the evening. They will begin deliberations again at 9 a.m. - the fourth day of jury trial in a Class B Misdemeanor case.