To the editors:
The article you ran "The Hero and the Taxpayer" [March 22] was an unfair character slam against Officer Johnny Martin. It is quite apparent throughout the article that the author was biased and wrote the account with preconceived partiality.
First, let us strip away the distortions and examine the bare facts as presented in the article.
1. Johnny Martin's car was struck in a traffic accident.
2. The driver was drunk and refused to produce a license.
3. He returned to his vehicle and attempted to flee the scene while Officer Martin was perilously hanging half in and half out of the car.
4. Witnesses claim the vehicle was traveling at speeds of 15-30 MPH, surely the prospect of being smashed between two cars or into a fixed object at this speed qualifies as a life-threatening act.
5. Officer Martin pulled his weapon in fear for his life.
6. The drunk attempted to disarm him and the gun went off.
It appears that Officer Martin reacted properly and the drunk motorist did not. Seems like Martin was reacting to the motorist's actions which the drunk motorist continually escalated.
Second, let's examine your twisted use of hearsay comments made by Martin after the incident. You wrongly portray them as evidence of self-guilt. I see them as evidence of human emotion following a traumatic event.
Third, you quote an alleged police expert to question Martin's actions. Is he being paid as a witness by the family? What's his authority and qualifications, he may have spent nine years on a police force, but in what capacity? How about impartial police experts, do they disagree with this paid mouthpiece?
Fourth, you mentioned Martin had been arrested twice as an adult. For what? This is a plain attempt to interject innuendo. What was the disposition of those arrests, was he perhaps found innocent or were the charges dropped? For all I know he may have been a demonstrator or perhaps arrested for drinking on the public way at the age of 17 (legally adult). I bet that if the police department hired him it wasn't serious. By the way what did the drunk's previous arrest record look like?
Fifth, you discussed Martin's OPS record. The bottom line, he was never found guilty of any misconduct by the civilian run agency. Do you realize that many people simply complain to OPS in an attempt to retaliate against an officer for arresting them? Four unfounded complaints in four years in a high crime area sounds very low. How about some evenhanded journalism, why didn't you mention any awards or commendations Martin may have earned during his career? They were noticeably absent.
Finally, your attempt to portray his killing as an act of self-defense is shameful and despicable. Your article alludes to the fact that the assailant had prior knowledge that Martin was a cop. The killer admits getting a gun, approaching Martin on the street with it in his hand, and shooting him in the chest at point-blank range. That's not self-defense, that's an ambush. The impartial courts obviously viewed it that way too.
It is increasingly apparent that the editors of your publications have an antipolice agenda. For example, within the last year I have read three separate articles critical of the Chicago Police and not one in support. Surely you can find something positive. You fail to recognize that police officers are humans with families, friends, and emotions. If our society continues to blast them at every opportunity and overlooks their accomplishments, we will have a discontented, unproductive, and cynical force. This article is an injustice to Officer Martin and his family who now face the unfair burden of rebutting this extreme prejudice. There is, however, some value to this smut, it could be used in a journalism or English class as an example of unethical reporting.
Karen M. Lang