Originally created 11/18/02

Too much restraint?

Was the complaint filed by the family of Laterrio Collins against Richmond County Deputy Paul Kervin chutzpah or just plain frivolous?

Collins pointed a gun at Kervin when the deputy stopped him on Fairhope Street Sept. 20 for a seat belt violation.

After Kervin disarmed him, Collins then resisted arrest and went for the officer's service revolver at which point Kervin broke the aggressor's arm. Collins' family charged the deputy used excessive force.

To avoid any taint of bias, Sheriff Ronnie Strength wisely turned investigation of the incident over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which recently released its report to District Attorney Danny Craig.

The gist of the GBI's findings is that there is no basis for the charges against Kervin. "It would be inappropriate," Craig added, "for me to comment on the level of personal risk assumed by the deputy for failing to respond to the defendant's actions with deadly force."

In other words, in struggling over the weapons, Kervin showed remarkable restraint in breaking Collins' arm - instead of shooting him dead.

When a criminal points a gun at a law officer, or tries to take the officer's firearm away from him, the officer has every right to defend himself with deadly force.

Rather than filing criminal complaints against Kervin, Collins and his family should be thanking the deputy for letting Collins live, especially given Collins' own criminal record.

The 19-year-old was released from a juvenile facility just last year for shooting three teenagers in a gas station parking lot in 1998.

Now it's Collins who faces criminal charges: attempted aggravated assault, obstruction of a law-enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Let's hope the justice system doesn't treat him with the same restraint Kervin did.


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