I’ve written before about my desire to have consistency in all aspects of my life, so I have a weird respect for the judicial system. Regardless of what judges and lawyers may say publicly, their actions have consistently been slanted against black and brown people. And when situations and crimes are similar, white people are more likely to receive more lenient punishments. Last week in Nashville, there was yet another example of a white person getting a lesser punishment than a black or brown person would have in a similar situation.
On August 26, 2017, Gerald Melton was awakened by exhaust fumes and loud music coming out of a Porsche SUV. Melton was sleeping outside when the music began to play and he proceeded to get into an argument with the car’s driver, Katie Quackenbush. Quackenbush, then an aspiring country music artist, got back in her vehicle, retrieved a gun, and shot Melton twice in the back as he was walking away. Quackenbush then fled the scene of the crime. An on-looker rushed to Melton’s aide and called for help. Quackenbush was later tracked down, arrested, and indicted for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Last week, Quackenbush was finally sentenced for her part in the incident that almost cost Melton his life. Quackenbush had all other charges dismissed in April and was found guilty only of reckless endangerment. The judge sentenced her to 11 months and 29 days of probation for the reckless endangerment charge, a simple misdemeanor.
Quackenbush’s defense team argued that she was unaware that she shot anyone because she closed her eyes while firing those two shots and that she only intended to scare away Melton. They were simply warning shots. After the trial concluded, Quackenbush, without irony, stated that she was grateful for the experience of almost murdering a man because it had dramatically changed her to her core. Thank goodness attempted murder has a positive effect on her life. Of course, it only reinforced my perception of the imbalance in the justice system.
It’s painfully apparent that if you have a certain background or upbringing, you will get the benefit of the doubt in any type of trial. It also didn’t hurt that Quackenbush’s father Jesse owns a prominent law firm in Amarillo, Texas. Having a father who is an attorney is a valuable resource to tap into when you’re fighting attempted murder charges after shooting an unarmed man in the back twice. Melton has had at least three surgeries and is lucky not to have lost his life.
Even though this hypocrisy happens in plain sight, we’re not allowed to draw attention to it. Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump is being sued right now by Quackenbush’s father’s law firm for even bringing up the light punishment via Twitter. If you can have your life ruined for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with marijuana, the least we could expect is to have real consequences for shooting someone after a petty argument. But at least the justice system has been consistent.
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