LETTER: Comment about shooting victim was unnecessary

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

To the Editor:

Referring to the article about the shooting that took place at Carli’s (Sanford Herald, March 12, “One man killed in shooting”), I take issue with the comment, “Neither one of these two are law-abiding citizens,” [Sanford Police Capt. David] Smith said. “They both have a criminal record.”

I will concede that noting both have a criminal record may be a fair statement because that is factual, but “Neither one of these two are law-abiding citizens” was totally unnecessary and inappropriate. You also made it clear that the argument stemmed from an alleged past drug deal, which means you don’t yet know what it was about. Even if it was, Capt. Smith, you obviously don’t understand that some people are capable of moving beyond their pasts. No one is perfect, and all of us have a past. Some wear suits and ties, and some dress in blue and wear badges. Some have just been lucky to have not gotten caught.

Regardless, Mr. Owens’s past criminal record does not reflect the man he was at the time of his death. For instance, did you know that this former convicted felon had voted in October after overcoming his past and having his right to vote restored? Nah, you probably didn’t. Uhmmm, did you know that this former convicted felon had not only enrolled in, but graduated, barber college in December at the top of his class? Nah, you probably didn’t know that either.

Yes, he may have had a criminal record; that’s accurate reporting. However, he made a change in his life, and as far as you and anyone else knows, Johnathan Owens, the man with a criminal record, was, at the time of his death, a law-abiding citizen, registered voter and college graduate. If you can “prove” this to be untrue, please do so.

Being at a bar at a private birthday party does not make anyone a criminal, and I bet you have not and will not find one single witness who will tell you Mr. Owens approached anyone to start anything.

You reflect the Sanford Police Department, so if people see you as racist, biased and unfairly opinionated then ... well, you figure the rest.

Treva J. Thompson