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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Essay on Ruby Ridge Siege

Essay on Ruby Ridge Siege

The Ruby Ridge is a location in the state of Idaho but it is more known as the location for a violent confrontation and scandalous event that happened between Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials and Randy Weaver, his family members and his friend, Kevin Harris.  It appeared that Randy Weaver had been under surveillance by federal government officials for allegedly selling two illegal sawed-off shotguns to an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) informant.  Randy Weaver however denied the allegations claiming that he sold them legal shotguns.  On August 21, 1992, officials from the US Marshals Service went to the property of Randy Weaver located at Ruby Ridge to serve a warrant of arrest.  The officials were conducting surveillance over the premises when Randy Weaver’s dog started barking at them.  According to Timothy Lynch, Weaver son, Sammy and Kevin Harris immediately grabbed their rifles thinking that the dog discovered a wild animal (Lynch, 2001, p.1).  On the other hand,  some writers say that there was a violent confrontation between the two groups.

One of the marshals decided to shoot the dog and killed it.  A firefight ensued when Sammy fired at the person who shot his dog.  Some writers opine that at the time of the shooting Sammy did not know that he was firing against a US Marshal (Timothy Lynch, 2001, p.1).  Subsequently, Sammy and a US Marshall Official were dead.  The Weaver family retreated to their cabin while the US Marshall called for backup.  The FBI later joined the marshals, with the former being given instruction to shoot any armed male coming out of the cabin (“Miscommunications a Factor at Ruby Ridge Siege”, 1995, p.1).  They took position around the cabin of Randy Weaver.  One of the FBI snipers, Lon Horiuchi, shot and wounded Weaver and Harris.  As both were retreating inside their cabin, Horiuchi shot and killed Vicki.  Several days later, Randy Weaver, his three daughters and Harris surrendered.  The FBI agent claimed that he did not see Vicki standing by the door at the time of the shooting.

A legal battle ensued between both camps.  In 1993, Randy Weaver was acquitted on murder and conspiracy and other charges relating to the death of one of the marshals.  He was however convicted of failing to appear for trial on the firearm charge.  In 1994, Weaver and Harris filed federal civil rights cases against the FBI and US marshals.  In 1995 they agreed to settle in the amount of P3.1 million.

More than the issue of immunity from prosecution for on-the-job actions, the Ruby Ridge incident highlights the issue of use of force by law enforcement officers.  It is understood that the use of force is essential in law enforcement.  It is not denied that law enforcement officers are given reasonable discretion to use force and even to fire and shoot against an assailant.  This authority is due to the nature of their job.  It bears stressing that people who are subjects of an arrest are not expected to be cooperative.  Most of the time they will attempt to elude the arrest and even use force in order to elude arrest.  Worse, they may even hurt the police officer making the arrest.   Thus, in view of these circumstances the use of force becomes an inevitable component of crime fighting not only to arrest the person but also to protect the officer making the arrest.

Use of deadly force, however, is not the general rule but the exception in the Rules of Engagement.  In fact, it is well-recognized that officers are mandated avoid using violence if there are other alternatives available.  The Ruby Ridge incident re-exposed the issue of brutality by law enforcement officers.  It has happened in 1991 during the time of Rodney King incident.  It has happened again in 1992.  It will continue to happen unless the public does something about the situation.  The only way to fight excessive use of force by those in power is to become vigilant.  The public should expose any violation of those in power.  They should also lobby for the enactment of laws providing for stricter punishment against those who abuse their authority and commit crime.

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