Jun 20, 2005
Winston Hayes, a 44-year-old resident of Compton near Los Angeles, is facing 25 years in prison. His bail is set at one million dollars, an amount normally imposed on violent criminals.
So what is Hayes' crime? Surviving a 120-round shooting rampage by 12 sheriff's deputies!
It's crazy, but it's true. And it's not the first time someone is being punished for being around when cops go berserk. Ask Mitchell Crooks, who videotaped the brutal 2002 beating of a teenager by cops in Inglewood. Within days of the incident, Crooks was arrested for old warrants concerning minor offenses that the D.A.'s office had long decided not to pursue.
So it's now Hayes' turn to pay the price of being caught in an incident which exposed the cops' brutality. First, the deputies claimed that Hayes was a "shooting suspect." But that story was so baseless that the authorities had to drop it right away. So they dug up a new accusation: "Felony evasion." That is, not stopping when deputies ordered him to.
It's a felony to run away?
Who can blame a black Compton resident for running away when, just a few months before, cops shot and killed a 13-year-old black joyrider just a few miles from Compton?
If convicted, this will be Hayes' third conviction, putting him behind bars 25 years under California's notorious "Third Strike" law. What makes all this even more outrageous is that both of Hayes' previous convictions were on equally questionable charges.
Compare Hayes' ordeal with the treatment of the real criminals, the deputies who shot up not just Hayes but the entire neighborhood for no reason. Instead of being charged with attempted murder, they are being "suspended" between two and fifteen days. Their bosses might as well send these murderous cops on a vacation in the Bahamas!