The Sun Herald reports that Sheriff Mike Byrd is facing a federal charge that he knowingly engaged in misleading conduct. The crime itself is punishable by up to twenty years in the slammer and a fine of $250,000, according to court records.
The federal charges stem from his ordering the destruction of patrol car dashboard camera footage that showed him kicking an arrested man, John Mark Stahl, in the groin twice.
Stahl had been arrested for stealing a deputy’s patrol car. Certainly, Stahl’s theft of property should not go unpunished, but Byrd’s reaction was wrong. If the kick wasn’t enough, Stahl claims that Byrd threatened him with life imprisonment for embarrassing him, his office, and his officers.
But wait, there’s more! Court records also say that Byrd called an information technologist to wipe his hard drive clean by drilling a hole through the old one and replacing it with a new drive. This man obviously has a lot more to hide than a kick to the nuts!
Byrd has agreed to a plea deal on the federal charges. In exchange for pleading guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Alabama has agreed to recommend that Byrd serve six months of house arrest and six months of probation. The judge has the final say and could make the sentence harsher, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Unfortunately for Sheriff Mike Byrd his troubles do not end with the federal charges. He is also facing a whopping twenty-nine felony charges and two misdemeanors from the state. He has been charged with fraud and embezzlement, perjury, hindering prosecution, witness tampering, extortion, attempting to persuade another to commit perjury, and intimidating a law enforcement officer.
A situation such as this one begs the questions: is this isolated to a rogue sheriff that allowed the power he wields to go to his head, or does this story identify a flaw inherent to the manner law enforcement and security are socialized in the United States?
Not all sheriffs are power-hungry and ruthless. There are some decent people in these positions. Last month, on this very website, we praised a Florida sheriff for his principled defense of the Second Amendment.
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