Free Kevin Leonard IV
Dear Mr. SpencerI think Brian makes some pretty points here, especially when it comes to the decision to charge Leonard without considering the potential criminal actions of his tormentors.
I was somewhat disappointed in your take in the matter of Kevin Leonard titled "Collingdale teen learns lesson in Prison"). In the article you recounted how the young man Kevin Leonard stabbed another young man after he (while accompanied by several other young men) approached Leonard in what appeared to be a robbery attempt and the alleged victim in the incident (Mickal Higgins). The alleged victim claimed it to be "prank".
For the record I am retired Philadelphia Police detective and a former private investigator. As a police detective I have investigated well over three thousand criminal investigations from homicides, to robberies, to assaults, etc... too numerous to mention.
From what you described to me Mr. Leonard was the victim in the his incident. Moreover, why weren't all of the alleged "pranksters" arrested and charged with robbery? I think the police detective and the district attorney need to take another look at their Pennsylvania Crimes Code, because what you described to me was a robbery attempt gone bad where the victim got th upper hand.
Gil, I am surprised that your "lesson" was to advise the young man to "keep ridin" when he did not know if the group had a gun or not. During my time as a police detective in Philadelphia I can't count the number of times where crime victims minding their own business attempted "to keep ridin" and winded up with a bullet in the back.
This case reeks of a miscarriage of justice and questionably trained police officers and or uninformed assistant district attorneys. I hope the judge has better sense to correct the matter. I also would hope the District Attorney's office takes second look at the others involved, READ THE PENNSYLVANIA CRIMES CODE.
However, if it turned out that someone in the group actually had a gun, Leonard would have probably ended up the worse for it. The old saying is: You don't bring a knife to a gun fight.
If Leonard himself thought it would have been possible to avoid the confrontation by riding away from it, I have no reason to second-guess his Monday morning quarterbacking of his decision. After all, it ended up with a 16-year-old kid almost being killed.
While I am the first to admire people who stand up to bullies, I try to be the last who would suggest they do so if there is a good likelihood of their being shot and killed.
Fight or flight is often a tough call.
One of my main concerns in writing about Leonard and his willingness to stick up for himself was that such publicity might give him a street rep he would feel the need to live up to. So when I met him I was pleased he was somewhat circumspect about the incident. Ignoring a teen-age bully sometimes is the best course to the best outcome. Not always but sometimes.
In any case, I fully agree with Brian, Leonard shouldn't be prosecuted or punished for refusing to capitulate to what looks very much a robbery attempt and certainly not by the criminal justice system.
That's just wrong.