The story of every case will change, sometimes dramatically, depending on who is telling the story.  Motivations change, facts change, the order of events can change.  We should be reversing roles with every person involved in a case: defendant, alleged victim, police, witnesses, prosecutor, judge, and jurors.  I was not involved in the events of a case – how can I understand what happened unless I can stand in the shoes of those who were there?  And not just the defendant – if there were 10 people involved in the event, the defendant’s story may be the most important to us, but if we do not consider everyone’s experience we are missing 9/10th of the story.

I was skimming through blogs, catching up after a few weeks out of town, and I came across this post marking the 10 year anniversary of the events at Ruby Ridge in Idaho.  It links to a documentary (in 5 parts on Youtube) that gives several points of view on the incident.  Initial reports were that Randy Weaver, a fugitive, white supremacist, anti-government, survivalist was in a gunfight with federal authorities.  He had killed a federal agent and had “pinned down” others.

We can come closer to the truth only by hearing the story from the perspective of all involved.  By listening to Randy Weaver’s perspective, we may understand how he came to be in a stand-off with police at his home, even if we do not agree with his thinking.  We learn that agents on his property shot Weaver’s dog, before Weaver’s 14 year old son and a federal agent were killed in a shootout.  That Weaver’s wife was then shot in the head by federal agents as she tried to go into their cabin.  That federal agents were given illegal and unconstitutional orders to “shoot to kill.”  It was several days before anyone realized that agents had killed Weaver’s son and wife.

The documentary tells the story of the siege through the eyes of Randy Weaver himself, his family, the local sheriff, FBI agents, friends of the Weaver family and the local residents who gathered outside of the property to protest what looked like an invasion by the federal government.

The documentary does not talk about the details of the subsequent court cases where Weaver and his co-defendant are acquitted by a jury after a three month trial for murder, and a later settlement where the federal government paid the Weaver family $3.1 million.  Gerry Spence’s account of the case, from Chapter 2 of From Freedom to Slavery, has been reproduced here.

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