Analysis of Ethical Dilemmas
The Ethics Project gives you the opportunity to examine the ethical dilemmas related to the investigation of a crime and the prosecution of the
offender. You analyze the extensive information collected about the case and apply an ethical analysis to the issues identified. In the early stages
of the project, you analyze the crime and issue spot. As you proceed further, you research and analyze the ethical issues you have identified. The
ethics project is designed to help you to recognize ethical dilemmas faced by criminal justice professionals and to apply critical thinking skills in
analyzing those situations.
ETHICS PROJECT ASSIGNMENT: A Murder in Metropolis: An ethics-based case study – Introduction
You are a retired law enforcement officer who now teaches at a local community college in the criminal justice program. In addition to teaching
ethics, you write crime novels on the side. You recently heard of a real-life case that you thought would make the basis for a good story, but, as
you looked into it further, you realized that it provided many opportunities for educating students and criminal justice professionals on ethics. You
decide to write a paper for possible publication in a journal.
To research this case, you have obtained a copy of the police investigative file, reviewed media accounts of the case, and interviewed witnesses,
members of the criminal justice system who were involved in the case and other criminal justice professionals not directly connected with the case.
As part of the preparation for writing your paper, you will organize your notes, outline your ideas for the themes for the paper, and identify the
ethical dilemmas presented in the case. You anticipate as you work on this project that you will have to do substantial research to make this paper
worthy for publication in an academic journal.
Details from the police report: On July 27, 2007, Lois Murphy was found dead on the floor of her garage, a victim of an apparent homicide. She was
discovered by her brother, James Murphy, who had come to her residence to check on her after being unable to reach her for three days. James
immediately called 911 to report the discovery. MPD conducted a comprehensive crime scene investigation, including photographing and videotaping the
crime scene, collecting physical evidence, and gathering fingerprint evidence. The MPD classified the case as a homicide. Following the initial crime
scene investigation, MPD detectives conducted an extensive investigation, interviewing many witnesses and following all credible leads. Although
there were multiple signs of blunt wound trauma around the head and face, according to the Metropolis County Medical Examiner, the cause of death was
a gunshot wound to the chest. The ME listed the cause of death as homicide. The MPD eventually arrested William Tanner on suspicion of murder. The
evidence indicates that the crime was motivated by an unpaid debt for drugs. The crime occurred in the city and county of Metropolis.
EXCERPTS FROM AUTHOR’S RESEARCH FILES:
Details from the police report:
One MPD investigators interviewed the victim’s best friend, Maria Frank, who lived in a poorer neighborhood, who was initially reluctant to speak to
officers because she feared retaliation by the gang members involved. She eventually revealed that on July 24 she was with Lois in her home in the
same neighborhood, when an altercation between Lois and a drug dealer started. She saw an individual pull Lois out of the house, shove her into the
garage and then heard sounds of a struggle, screams, and a gun shot. She ran from the home and hid at her grandmother’s house until a week after the
murder when the police located her.
The evidence collected from the crime scene, along with the statements by Maria Frank, lead to the arrest of William Tanner, an African-American
male. The investigation also lead to the arrest of Anthony Landon, believed to have driven William Tanner from the crime scene, and Tanner’s younger
brother, Joey, who is believed to have helped William Tanner dispose of incriminating evidence the next day.
Videotaped interview with Anthony Landon
In an MPD interrogation conducted by Detective Jones, Anthony Landon, a White male, admits to knowledge of William Tanner’s involvement in gangs and
drug selling activity. He states that he knew when he drove William Tanner to the victim’s residence that Tanner planned to threaten her about money
owed him and that he knew, from past experience, that Tanner was capable of serious physical violence. He denied all involvement in any violent acts
against Lois and stated that when he drove Tanner away from the crime scene, he did not know that Tanner had just killed her.
Interview with an officer not involved in the case:
According to MPD Detective Phil Manning, Lois Murphy, a White female, was known by the Metropolis Police Department (MPD) as a drug user. She had
three convictions for drug-related crimes and was currently on probation for her most recent conviction. She had been a confidential informant for
Detective Manning for almost two years, providing information about drug trafficking activity in Metropolis. Detective Manning believes that Lois was
not involved in a gang, but he knew she came in contact with gang members when she purchased drugs. Detective Manning knew she had drugs in her
possession at times that he met with her, but did not arrest her because he wanted to keep her as an informant. Detective Manning also knew that Lois
was in violation of the terms of her probation by purchasing drugs, but he never reported that to her probation officer because she was a valuable
source of information for the department, leading the local drug task force to many successful raids.
Interview with Nearby Convenience Store Owner
Raoul Garcia, the Latino owner of a convenience store down the street from the victim’s residence, was interviewed for background information on his
knowledge of the victim and criminal activity in the neighborhood. He stated that that the cops frequently stop by his store for a chat and ask how
things are going in the neighborhood, and they tend have a visible presence on his block. He’s always happy to provide a cup of coffee free of charge
to any of the officers who stops by because he knows they have a tough job and they are looking out for the businesses in the neighborhood.
Raoul says that he fears and respects the cops that patrol his neighborhood, but even though he hears stories about some bad apples, and he sees no
problem with showing his gratitude in this small way.
Interview with Nearby Bar Owner:
Joe Sampson, a White male and the owner of the Corner Tap, was also interviewed about the safety in the neighborhood and the amount of known gang
activity. Joe stated that he knows drug dealing goes on in the neighborhood and there are often fights between rival gangs. He says he does not have
to worry about any of the violence spilling into his bar because he’s friends with many cops. There are a couple officers who swing by his place a
couple times a night whenever they are on the night shift, and he always makes sure they are taken care of when they come in to watch the football
game on Sunday. And, unlike the bar down the street, none of his customers get hassled by the cops at closing time. The word is out that he’s friends
with the cops.
An article appearing on July 31 in the Metropolis Daily News reported that a call had been made from the victim’s home phone on July 24 during which
the caller said in a quiet whisper that she needed help but then the phone was disconnected. No follow-up call was made by the dispatcher and no
squad was sent to the residence. When asked about this call by the Metropolis Daily News, the MPD denied that such a call had been made.
In another article on this story appearing on August 15, the Metropolis Daily News reported that the MPD acknowledged, after further inquiry, that a
call had been made on July 24 from the victim’s residence. The MPD is refusing to release either a transcript or the audio recording of the call,
citing data privacy restrictions.
Author’s interview with Maria Frank
Maria Frank said that the investigator who tracked her down at her grandmother’s home promised that the police would protect her if she came forward
to testify. Relying on the investigator’s assurances, she told them what she knew about the incident. However, she now knows that Metropolis has no
funds for witness protection and the MPD cannot do more than provide enhanced patrolling in her neighborhood. Maria feels that the defendant’s gang
friends want to kill her and feels betrayed by the MPD, especially as she lives in a vulnerable area.
Internal affairs report
As a result of an internal affairs investigation it was determined that the MPD representative who denied the existence of the 911 emergency call on
July 24 when the Metropolis Daily News reporter asked, knew of both the existence of the call and the audio taped recording of the call. In addition,
the dispatcher was found to have violated standard procedure by not calling back the residence following the hang-up call. It is uncertain whether
this was due to the location of the victim’s home or other circumstances.
Videotape of MPD interview with Joey Tanner
The videotaped interview of Joey Tanner, the 18-year-old brother of the murder suspect, shows the MPD detective telling Joey Tanner that they have a
witness who puts him at the scene of the crime which suggests that he had some involvement in the murder and could result in more serious charges.
The investigative file clearly shows that the detective knows that this statement is false when he makes it. The detective at all times was
professional in the interview, appearing at times to have sympathy for
Joey’s plight that his brother got him into this situation and indicating that any cooperation on Joey’s part would be communicated to the prosecutor
and would be looked at favorably “down the line.”
Joey Tanner eventually tells the detective that the day after the crime he helped his brother get rid of the gun, and he told the detective where it
could be found.
Prosecutor’s charging decisions
Upon consideration of all the facts, and following negotiations with Joey Tanner, the Metropolis County District Attorney’s Office made the following
charging decisions in the case:
• William Tanner: Murder, second degree (unpremeditated)
• Anthony Landon: No charges for aiding and abetting murder in the second degree, on the condition that he testify truthfully against William Tanner.
• Joey Tanner: No charges for aiding and abetting after the fact, on the condition that he testify truthfully in the case against William Tanner.
Author’s interview with informant:
In a discussion with Billy Knowles, a White male and a known drug dealer who spoke on the condition of anonymity, he stated that it is well known on
the street that there is an officer in the department who has been passing information along to Anthony Landon including specific information about
other gangs and notice of planned drug raids. He doesn’t know the name of the officer, but he says that Anthony seems to have some kind of inside
connection because in the past year the police have had big raids on nearly all the active gangs in the area except his.
Author’s interview with deputy sheriff at the Metropolis County Adult Detention Facility (jail)
A sheriff who works in the county jail was interviewed about his interactions with the three individuals who had been arrested. During the course of
that interview, the deputy mentioned that another inmate had approached him and said that his cellmate, Anthony Landon, told him that he was actually
the one who brought the gun to the house on the day of the murder and was in the garage when the shooting happened. The inmate said he asked Anthony
if he had been the shooter and Anthony did not actually say so, but sort of gave a “knowing wink” in response. The inmate then asked Anthony if the
police believed his statement when he said he was just the driver, Anthony gave another “knowing wink” and said that he and “Jonesy,” the detective
who interviewed him, “have an understanding.”
The deputy sheriff said that he gave this information to the Metropolis County District Attorney’s Office before the trial.
Author’s interview with member of MPD
In an interview with another MPD detective, who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity, the author asked about the culture in the MPD. This
detective said that the culture varies by precinct. There is one precinct known as “Lower Town” where the officers are known to play “fast and loose”
with the rules, often putting in their police reports that they Mirandized the suspect when they did not, putting down false information in an
affidavit to get a warrant, and, using excessive force when arresting a suspect. The cops in Lower Town seem to have an “us against them” mentality
where their job is to “get the bad guys,” and they take whatever steps they feel is needed to get the job done.
You’ve organized your thoughts and identified the ethical issues. Now it is time to analyze those issues in a systematic and scholarly way.
For this next phase of your project you conduct research on the various ethical problems that appear in the case. You look to applicable ethical
rules and standards that apply to law enforcement personnel, and thoughtfully consider those problems using your critical thinking skills. If you
conclude that the behavior identified can be classified as “police corruption,” you should identify what kind of corruption it is. As part of this
analysis, you address whether issues of “noble cause corruption” and the “code of silence” apply in to the situations explored in this case. Your
analysis should demonstrate your understanding of ethical principles and theories.
Prepare a 2-3 page paper in which you fully discuss the ethical issues presented in the Metropolis case. Make sure that you use APA formatting for
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