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Sheriff Terry Maketa of Colorado's El Paso County has promised his constituents that he "will actively oppose any effort that infringes upon your second amendment rights."
"Like every elected official in the state, I took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Colorado," wrote Maketa in an open letter to El Paso County residents. "This means all rights."
That promise apparently doesn't apply to the right of an unarmed citizen to defend himself against acts of criminal violence committed by one of Maketa's deputies. If it did, Maketa – who, like every other sheriff, has some discretion regarding prosecutions – would have urged the local prosecutor to drop all charges against Calhan, Colorado resident David Goss, a sod farmer who is now serving an unjustified four-year prison sentence for the supposed crime of trying to avoid being shot in the stomach by Deputy Jeff Schulz.
On the evening of June 16, 2011, Deputy Schulz responded to a call from a woman who had been chased away by Goss after she and several friends accidentally trespassed on his farm. In the weeks leading up to that incident, Goss – who would later be described by a trial judge as “a pillar of his community” – had suffered a series of robberies and received no help from the Sheriff's Office. He was sitting in his pickup at the end of a long driveway when Schulz arrived. Owing to his understandable frustration, Goss had been abrupt and inhospitable in dealing with the unwanted visitors, and his mood didn't improve when Schulz showed up.
According to Shulz's original account of the confrontation, Goss approached his vehicle in a "menacing" fashion, which prompted the officer to whirl around and shoot him with a Taser. Goss was not a criminal suspect. After being attacked without cause on his own property, Goss removed the Taser barbs and then knocked the weapon out of the assailant's hands. This act of self-defense was later described as the supposed crime of "disarming an officer."
A struggle then ensued in which the deputy – despite being larger and younger than the farmer – supposedly wound up pinned to the ground on his back as Goss repeatedly beat him with his own radio and threatened to kill him. At that point, Schulz – supposedly fearing for his life – shot the unarmed and already traumatized farmer in self-defense.
That was not to be the only version of the story told by Schulz. Furthermore, eyewitnesses to the struggle told a very different story: In their account, Schulz had drawn his gun and was struggling with Goss while firing wildly. One of the rounds struck the car being driven by Goss's wife, who, out of concern for her husband, had come down the driveway.
After shooting Goss in the stomach, Schulz attempted to shoot him again, but the gun misfired. Schulz – visibly agitated and muttering to himself – spent several minutes driving in circles in his police vehicle, without calling for an ambulance. Shulz also threatened several eyewitnesses on the scene.
Confronted about his inconsistencies on the witness stand, Schulz – a paragon of self-pity who was reduced to blubbering at several points during Goss's trial – insisted that "the situation was chaotic …. So if I don't remember something that's normal and typical." Since cops are trained and given official permission to lie, self-serving perjury of this kind is, as Deputy Schulz said, entirely normal and typical.
Defense attorney Geoffrey Heim produced photographs of Deputy Schulz after the incident showing that there was dust on the left leg of his trousers, but none on his back. Prosecutor Tanya Karimi dismissed that critical evidence of perjury by maintaining that Schulz was merely "mistaken" about how he had landed on the ground, and that he was on his side when the struggle took place. That version, fatally undermined the melodramatic depiction of Goss was kneeling on Schulz's chest and beating him severely.
Prior to Goss's trial, the district attorney conducted an investigation, which – not that the suspense was unbearable – resulted in a finding that Deputy Schulz was "justified" in shooting the farmer. Ironically, that investigation turned up one significant detail that supported Goss's defense: There was evidence that a bullet casing had not fully cleared the pistol and got jammed in the slide.
The DA said that this was consistent with Schulz's claim that Goss had tried to grab his gun. This key detail is consistent with eyewitness claims that Goss was struggling with the Schulz after the deputy had drawn his gun and was firing wildly. It also confirms that the deputy had attempted to shoot Goss a second time after already shooting him in the stomach at close range. All of this indicates that rather than trying to take Schulz's gun and use it against him, Goss was trying to prevent the deputy from murdering him.
Despite Schulz's abundant self-contradictions, the testimony of eyewitnesses, and substantial material evidence impeaching the deputy's claims, Goss was found guilty of second-degree assault on an officer, disarming an officer, and several other charges.
At the sentencing hearing, a tearful Schulz continued to indulge his unappeasable sense of victimhood.
"You caused me more pain than you can imagine," whimpered Schulz, addressing Goss. "I have no pity for you even though I know that I should." So vast, deep, and poignant was Schulz's pity for himself that he could spare no sympathy for the man he had assaulted and attempted to murder.
Schulz's petulance was matched by the arrogant sanctimony of Presiding Judge William Bain, who said that the "message" imparted by caging an innocent farmer for the "crime" of being assaulted by a uniformed tax-feeder was that "if you get in a fight with a cop you're going to go to prison."
Actually, the "message" delivered by Bain and Schulz – and tacitly endorsed by Sheriff Maketa – was that when a police officer decides to murder someone, the individual targeted for that act of official violence has a duty to die. Should the victim survive the assault, he will be sent to prison.
According to Goss's family, the farmer has filed an appeal – but this will avail them nothing, even if it succeeds.
"This really seems kind of pointless, because by the time the appeal is through, David will probably have finished his sentence," one source close to the family told Pro Libertate in an interview last summer.
His family declines to discuss the case on record out of fear that public criticism of the Colorado "justice" system may result in a retaliatory prison assignment that could endanger the health and safety of the 54-year-old farmer.
Because the purported "victim" in this matter was a police officer, Goss was taken directly from the courthouse to a cell. Not content to see his victim incarcerated, Schulz is also seeking to ruin his family financially: The deputy, who claims that he will "never recover" from the physical and psychological trauma of his encounter with Goss, has filed a lawsuit against his victim.
Despite his supposedly incapacitating injuries, Schulz – a shameless perjurer whose behavior suggests a capacity for pathological violence – remains on duty. In fact, Sheriff Maketa considers Schulz a hero and exemplar: Schulz was awarded a Medal of Valor for his attempt to murder David Goss (see page 38 of the department's 2011 Annual Report).
For all of his posturing as a Second Amendment stalwart, Sheriff Maketa obviously doesn't believe that citizens have a right to armed self-defense against government-sanctioned lethal violence. If he is willing to countenance the imprisonment of an innocent citizen whose only "crime" was to disarm a deputy who attempted to kill him, Maketa obviously isn't going to defend the rights of a citizen who actually uses a firearm to protect himself against criminal aggression by a law enforcement officer.
Like most sheriffs across the country, Maketa is eager to deploy SWAT teams on the flimsiest of pretexts. A few weeks ago he dispatched three SWAT operators to arrest Catherene Wilson, a five-foot-three, silver-haired, 56-year-old grandmother, who was held for five days in the El Paso County Jail because of an erroneous extradition order filed by a law enforcement agency in Orlando, Florida. The order was generated by a 35-year-old credit card conviction, for which she completed a term of five years’ probation decades ago.
Wilson's husband Jim repeatedly attempted to contact Sheriff Maketa, only to be studiously ignored. With the expensive help of attorneys from Florida and Colorado, Wilson was released and the charges against her were dismissed – twelve days after she was able to document that the warrant was invalid.
If the family hadn't possessed the material resources to hire legal help, Mrs. Wilson – whose nickname is "Abuelita" ("Little Grandmother") – would probably still be in jail.
If, on the other hand, she had tried to defend herself from the armed strangers who abducted her without just cause, Abuelita would either be dead, or headed to prison. And the sheriff who dispatched the kidnappers would probably give them a commendation.
In his recent message to constituents, Sheriff Maketa said that the government should focus its attention on "those who are most likely to commit acts of violence and not target the law abiding patriots of our nation." The real danger to the public, he pointed out, is not private gun owners but rather "individuals who demonstrate violent or homicidal ideations."
Maketa had an opportunity to take an individual meeting that description off the street. Instead, he kept him in uniform and gave him a medal.