We all know the name of the man accused in the beating of Bay Area paramedic Bryan Stow in the Dodgers’ Stadium parking lot. Some even say he is the man who beat Bryan Stow on the evening of March 31, 2011. Certainly Police Chief Charlie Beck believes they have “the right guy.” This means that the men and women investigating this case in the LAPD are now on a quest to find evidence against Ramirez. With the belief that Ramirez is the right guy, the LAPD has tunnel vision putting justice for the Stow family in jeopardy.
Shouldn’t the investigation focus on obtaining any evidence relating to the crime, and not focus on Ramirez? Because, even though Ramirez hasn’t been charged with any crime, aren’t we all innocent until proven guilty? Well, maybe not.
It turns out that the presumption of innocence only applies at trial. Yes, you read that right. So, really until a jury is sitting in that jury box the criminal justice system can treat you as if you are indeed “the right guy.” A defendant is presumed innocent only at trial. This is why you will rarely see a defendant in shackles at the defense table (shackles could prejudice the jury into thinking the defendant is guilty). The same is true for prison clothing, a jury could be prejudiced into thinking the defendant is guilty if they see him at the defense table in his prison clothing. But, none of this applies to the timeline leading up to trial.
Maybe the presumption should apply from the beginning. Especially in high profile, high pressure cases like this Bryan Stow beating. Without the presumption of innocence, police investigations focus on the one person whom the media and their police chief say is the guy. They may overlook other leads or evidence pointing to a different potential suspect. Yes, everyone cheers and tears up when someone is arrested for the terrible crime that was committed against Bryan Stow. And, maybe those same people will again cheer and tear up if Ramirez if charged and put through a trial. However, is it really justice for the victim and his family for us to focus on one guy (where the evidence is pretty weak) and ignore all other potential suspects? If he is later found guilty because of the pressure to lock anyone up for this crime, is that justice?
Ramirez’ legal team understands that the innocence presumption isn’t triggered until trial, so they are taking matters into their own hands. They plan to prove him innocent in the public court, before charges are filed in the legal court. Ramirez’ attorney has already lined up several dozen witnesses who assert that Ramirez was not at Dodger Stadium that night. His attorney has also subjected Ramirez to a polygraph test which clearly reveals his belief in his client because as defense attorneys know, clients always lie…..just kidding….. But it really is a serious step to take even before he has received any police reports and police witness statements. Most recently, Ramirez’ attorney has released a photograph of him circa the time of the beating. The photograph shows Ramirez with a full head of hair – not shaved as in the suspect sketches.
Ramirez’ attorney is also trying to get a hold of video tape footage from a hotel that Ramirez is supposed to have checked into the day after the beating. The tape would also show that Ramirez had hair and not a bald head. I commend the Ramirez legal team for all their efforts in proving innocence now, instead of waiting for the presumption to take over in trial. After all, the best way to win a criminal case is to avoid getting any charges filed to begin with! Then, the investigation can get back on track in seeking true justice for the Stow family.