Recently I discussed a police report about Caleb Brantley, a football player who was involved in a controversial incident in Gainesville, Florida. (You can read my original post at this link.). Brantley was allegedly struck in the jaw by a woman who admitted she had hit him. Brantley decided not to press charges.
Now Brantley is claiming that the original police report was falsified. A new police report alleges that Brantley was the attacker. Very likely there will be a legal hearing to straighten out the confusion. Which report is correct – the first or the second?
From our vantage point, of course there’s no way to know who’s telling the truth. But if you read the second police report, you’ll notice immediately that it lacks objectivity. There are no sources for the details in the report. If this case goes to court, the officer at the scene may be subjected to tough questioning by the defense attorney: Who made these allegations?
Here are two examples:
The DEF responded by striking the VIC in the face knocking her unconscious. [Who saw this happen? The officer? Probably not – he arrived later. A witness? But the first report says there were multiple witnesses. The victim? Why not say so?]
Additionally, the intensity of the DEF’s force far exceeded what was reasonable or necessary. [This is an opinion, not a fact. What looks violent to one person may seem normal to another. Facts are needed: Was there redness? Bleeding? Did the victim fall to the ground? Did the suspect use an open hand or a closed fist? And so on.]
The confusion around the Brantley incident illustrates once again the importance of carefully following guidelines for writing police reports. Suggestion: Use the links to read both reports, and ask yourself how you would have handled this writing task.