VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL: Lawrence Cabbie is no Criminal


February – 2007

 Here we go again in Lawrence where the victim is arrested and treated like the criminal, instead of focusing on the real criminals.

 Last year, hero Marine Dan Cotnoir was arrested and charged with attempted murder for defending himself and his family when kids outside his apartment on Broadway were throwing bottles into his window.

 This month, Lawrence cab driver Bienvenido Rodriguez is being charged by police for shooting Herman Irene, an armed robber who held him up at knife point in front of witnesses and a man with a long criminal record.

 We say, as the result of his own criminal behavior, Mr. Herman Irene got exactly what he deserved: a bullet, a medflight to Boston and a series of weeks filled with discomfort and physical rehab before he can recover from the injuries he received as the result of his own criminal behavior.

 In both the Cotnoir and Rodriguez cases, we believe that the Lawrence police were too quick to judge and make arrests.

 Both men were victims, both men had a right to defend themselves and both men did what they believed at the time was right to stop the violence against them.

 With Rodriquez the cab driver, fearing for his life after being robbed, he was simply trying to prevent being robbed or assaulted by Mr. Irene again. As the victim of a crime, he was making what amounted to a citizen’s arrest.

 Had the cab driver been a police officer, would the Lawrence police have been so quick to arrest that officer? We don’t believe they would. As has been the case in the past, there would have been an investigation and maybe a clerk magistrate’s hearing to determine whether or not there should be any charges lodged against the officer.

 This same protocol should have been used here (and with Dan Cotnoir) to get a clear and independent picture of the situation and to determine whether or not there should be any charges against Rodriguez.

 But now it is too late, the damage is done and the victim once again is being wrongly accused while the criminal seems to be getting a pass.

 We only hope that, as with the Cotnoir jury in its acquittal, that a jury of Massachusetts citizens will once again do the right thing if this case ever gets that far.

 One thing for sure, however. Had Mr. Rodriguez called the police, Herman Irene would be out on bail within hours robbing other cab drivers and committing more crimes, instead of laying in a hospital bed contemplating his own future.

 Maybe Mr. Rodriguez’s actions will give Herman Irene the incentive he needs to stop victimizing people, maybe it will not.

 But the one thing we know for sure is, Bienvenido Rodriguez took Herman Irene off the streets for far longer than our police or criminal justice system could have, and for that, we say (legal or not), he did our community a favor.