Monthly Archives: August 2018

New Mexico Motorcyclists Confront Sheriff Over Motorcycle Profiling

By David “Double D” Devereaux

NMMRO Letter to Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department

According to data collected by the New Mexico Motorcyclists Rights Organization (NMMRO), motorcyclists in New Mexico have been increasingly experiencing profiling stops at the hands of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. But instead of merely collecting data, the NMMRO recently confronted Sheriff Manuel Gonzales requesting that all department policies and procedures be reviewed, and that all deputies be properly trained and educated so that they understand that profiling and selective enforcement of the law are simply unacceptable.

Motorcycle profiling deprives individuals of basic constitutional guarantees and should therefore be a concern to all Americans. The 1st Amendment irrefutably protects the rights of association and expression and judicial precedent has specifically applied these rights in the context of motorcycle clubs, including clubs that law enforcement labels a gang. Being in a motorcycle club is not justification for a traffic stop. And even when a traffic pretext is provided in an attempt to justify the stop, the 14th Amendment prohibits selective enforcement of the law.

The Motorcycle Profiling Project (MPP) commends the NMMRO’s proactive grassroots efforts. The MPP joins the NMMRO in the request to the Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department to properly educate and train deputies to cease the common practice of motorcycle profiling. Furthermore, the MPP believes that the Bernalillo Sheriff’s department should confirm a commitment in a public statement condemning the practice.

Finally, please take the time to fill out the National Motorcycle Profiling Survey 2018 (http:// www.motorcycleprofilingproject.com/national-motorcycle-profling-survey/) and assist the MPP and motorcycle rights organizations nationwide in the effort to end motorcycle profiling and discrimination.

NMMRO’s Official Request To Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department

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Report Released Under Pressure After Ex-Sheriff Kills TN Biker

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The McMinnville Tennessee Police Department has been refusing to release any public information related to the death of 21-year-old motorcyclist Jay Alan Webster, probate member of the Silent Creed Motorcycle Club, killed on July 7th, 2018, after former Warren County Sheriff Kenneth Taylor failed to yield and hit Webster while driving his Toyota SUV. But after more than a week of stiff public record request denials, and less than 24 hours after public demands to release the information was published on motorcycleprofilingproject.com, the McMinnville Tennessee PD has finally released the accident report.

The release of public information is a small but important victory for motorcyclists in Tennessee because it demonstrates what a focused and unified grassroots motorcycle rights campaign can achieve. Yet important unanswered questions remain and the grassroots pressure must continue to be a voice for Jay Alan Webster.

Results of Former Sheriff’s Blood Tests “Pending.”

The accident report indicates that the although there were no drugs or alcohol found at the scene, the former sheriff was administered a blood test to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol, but the results were still pending when the accident report was filed on July 8th, 2018, more than a month ago. Why have the results of Taylor’s blood test not been released? Do the results explain why an investigation into further charges is still on-going?

Release the Results! Motorcyclists Nationwide Demand It!

Rodney Mancini, a National Council of Clubs (NCOC) participant and Tennessee motorcyclist that originally requested the accident report from authorities, followed-up with a public records request for the results of Taylor’s initial blood test. The McMinnville PD rejected Mancini’s request because criminal charges were pending.

The McMinnville PD can arguably exempt these results until the investigation is complete, but the results could also be released through discretion. The public simply has a right to know if a former sheriff was under the influence when he killed a 21-year-old man.

The NCOC and the Motorcycle Profiling Project (MPP), organizations representing the legal and political interests of motorcycle clubs nationwide, urges the McMinnville PD to:

  1. Release the results of Taylor’s initial blood test and confirm whether the former sheriff was under the influence of drugs; or
  1. Serve justice as dictated by law and charge former sheriff Kenneth Taylor with Vehicular Homicide for the death of Jay Alan Webster, a probate member of the Silent Creed MC, if the results of the test indicate the presence of drugs or alcohol OR if Taylor’s conduct created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to Jay Allen.

The grassroots pressure demanding justice for motorcycle clubs and their members through a unified voice must continue, so individuals negligently killing bikers are at least legally forbidden from driving a vehicle. The life and memory of Jay Alan Webster demands this at a minimum.

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Former Tennessee Sheriff Kills MC Member and Still Not Charged?

By David “Double D” Devereaux

On July 7th, 2018 a former county sheriff driving an SUV hit and killed a 21-year-old motorcyclist wearing club colors in McMinnville, Tennessee. This former sheriff was cited for failure to yield, however, no criminal charges have been filed. 1

Although the investigation continues with assistance from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and District Attorney’s office, information that is often released to the public during accident investigations is being withheld, such as whether drugs or alcohol are thought to be involved. The National Council of Clubs (NCOC) and the Motorcycle Profiling Project (MPP), organizations representing the legal and political interests of motorcycle clubs nationwide, are concerned that the former sheriff is being protected legally and politically by the thin blue line.

The public has a right to know whether drugs or alcohol are thought to be involved because that would inarguably constitute vehicular homicide under Tennessee law, as opposed to a devastating accident. And the public has a right to know about the short life of Jay Alan Webster, extinguished by a former sheriff currently being shielded by the laws protecting investigatory information.

The Details

As reported by NBC News Nashville on July 7th, a former Warren County Sheriff named Kenneth Taylor was cited for failure to yield at a downtown McMinnville, Tennessee intersection, killing 21-year-old motorcyclist Jay Alan Webster. Police say it’s too early in the investigation to determine whether or not charges will be filed against the former sheriff. What was not reported was that Jay Alan Webster was a probate member of the Silent Creed Motorcycle Club.

Unusually, no information is being released on whether drugs or alcohol were thought to be involved. A simple Google News search reveals that law enforcement in Tennessee often release to the public whether drugs or alcohol are thought to be involved very early on in an accident investigation. For example, a FOX 17 News Nashville Story from 2016, “Two Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Saturday in middle Tennessee” reported:

“Metro Police identify 27-year-old Joshua Cannon of South Nashville as the motorcyclist killed in an accident after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night…They say he was driving at a high rate of speed before hitting the back of a car at a light, then slid and hit another car. Drugs or alcohol are not thought to be involved.” 2

Whether drugs or alcohol are a factor in an accident is information law enforcement often releases. So NCOC participant Rodney Mancini, in an attempt to obtain details of the accident, submitted a public records request and very quickly received a response.

Utilizing an investigation exemption to a public records request is common in many states, but in this case the McMinnville Police Department charged Taylor with failure to yield, which means that investigation is complete. Any accident reports written by officers present reflect the investigation that led to charging Taylor with failure to yield, which is now complete.

It is now August 7th, 2018, and the public still does not know the details. An accident is distinct from vehicular homicide, and the public still does not know whether vehicular homicide was committed by a former sheriff under the influence of drugs or alcohol in their community. The public has a right to know because criminal activity that results in death, in this case possibly committed by former law enforcement official, is irrefutably an on-going public news concern.

In addition to the public’s right to know, every motorcyclist in Tennessee has a right to know. Maybe most importantly, Jay Alan Webster’s family, brothers, and friends have a right to know whether their loved one was the victim of an accident or the victim of a crime. And we all have a right to know about the life that was prematurely taken from us all.

Who was Jay Alan Webster?

Though it would be impossible to do Jay Alan Webster’s life justice with just words alone, it is important to know who was taken.

Based on information provided to the NCOC by the Silent Creed MC, Jay was only 21-years-old when he was killed doing one of the things he loved- riding a motorcycle. Jay’s love of motorcycling eventually brought him to the Silent Creed MC, and at the time of his death he was a probate for the club.

Jay was also an accomplished welder, a skill he developed after he attempted to join the Marines at 18-years-old but was told a foot deformity would physically preclude him from serving. Welding was Jay’s full time employment until he recently returned to his Grandmother’s home to provide her full-time care. Jay’s charitable and empathetic nature was obvious through his actions. In addition to taking care of his grandmother, Jay participated in many charities including food drives for the homeless.

Remember, Jay was only 21. His life had barely begun, yet he was dedicated to the service of other people by choice. The NCOC believes that everyone has a right to know whether Jay Alan Webster was killed as the result of a former Sheriff driving his SUV under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Once these facts are revealed, then the discussion about proper justice can begin.

Is Vehicular Homicide Proper Justice?

If former Sheriff Kenneth Taylor was under the influence of drugs or alcohol then he could be charged with Vehicular Homicide. Tennessee law is unambiguous. TN Code § 39-13-213 (2015) subdivision (a)(2) says “vehicular homicide is the reckless killing of another by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motorboat or other motor vehicle, as the proximate result of the driver’s alcohol or drug intoxication.

Unfortunately, even if convicted the sentence ranges are very light and dependent on prior alcohol or drug related offenses. TN Code says, “Vehicular homicide under subdivision (a)(2) is a Class B felony.” “Any sentence imposed for a first violation of subdivision (a)(2) shall include a mandatory minimum sentence of forty-eight (48) consecutive hours of incarceration.” And with three or more prior alcohol-related convictions “any sentence imposed by the judge shall include a mandatory minimum sentence of one hundred fifty (150) consecutive days of incarceration.

However, the former sheriff would be off the road for three to ten years and not killing any more motorcyclists, at least not with a legal license. Tennessee law requires the court to “prohibit a defendant convicted of vehicular homicide from driving a vehicle in this state for a period of time not less than three (3) years nor more than ten (10) years.

A Demand for Information and Justice

The life of Jay Alan Webster was important and meaningful. Demanding justice for a human being of this quality is an honor and a responsibility.

The NCOC and the MPP publicly urge that the McMinnville Police Department:

  • release information confirming whether or not alcohol or drugs are thought to be involved in the death of Jay Alan
  • explain why a routine traffic accident investigation has taken a month and also articulate a likely timeframe for the investigation to

The NCOC, with participation nationwide, is dedicated to demanding public information and justice for motorcycle club members across America, including Jay Alan Webster and all motorcycle club members throughout Tennessee.

Sources

1 WSMV TV, Nashville, Former Warren County Sheriff cited in fatal crash with motorcyclist, July 11, 2018, http://www.wsmv.com/story/38624716/former-warren-county-sheriff-cited-in-fatal- crash-with-motorcyclist

2 Anthony Glover, FOX 17 News Nashville, Two Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Saturday in middle Tennessee, March 6, 2016

The post Former Tennessee Sheriff Kills MC Member and Still Not Charged? appeared first on Motorcycle Profiling Project.

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