Police Chief Dan Ward spoke out July 24 against District Court Judge Christopher Smith’s ruling in a case involving a violent attack on an Arkansas City Police Department officer.
Michael Shine, who originally faced charges of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, pleaded guilty June 4 to a lesser charge — battery of a law enforcement officer. This plea bargain was made despite ACPD Lt. Anthony Rider’s not wanting the charge to be changed, according to Ward.
Rider, the victim, sustained an injury that Ward referred to as “permanent” during Shine’s arrest, which took place on July 31, 2017.
In addition the plea agreement, Smith denied a request from the county prosecutor to jail Shine and instead gave him two years of probation.
“To say that I am disappointed in the judge’s findings in the outcome of this case is absolutely an understatement,” Ward said.
“In 32 years of law enforcement, I have seen very few people who present a danger to the public more so than Mr. Shine.”
In light of Smith’s reduced sentence of probation in a case that normally would result in presumptive prison time, the police chief described the elected judge as “soft on crime” and said the court system is encouraging criminals to attack his police officers without fear of punishment.
In defense of Shine
Defense attorney Tim Showalter spoke at length prior to Shine’s sentencing July 24, discussing the mental health of his client and explaining why he filed a motion for disposition of sentence, which allowed Smith to sentence Shine without using standard sentencing guidelines.
Showalter said he has argued before the court multiple times that mental illness and addictions are not dealt with best in the prison system.
“Prison is not a place for individuals suffering from mental health and addictions issues,” he said. “(Shine’s) not going to find the solution to his problems in the penitentiary. He’s ready to be fully cooperative.”
Showalter went on to say that Shine’s behavior, which included an attempt to commit “suicide by cop,” was a result of his mental health and addiction problems.
“His problems just got on top of him,” the attorney said. He then asked that Shine be sentenced to probation.
Schwartz protests disposition
Cowley County Attorney Larry Schwartz, the prosecutor, also provided input regarding Showalter’s request for disposition of sentence.
“Taking responsibility is (something that) has to happen every day,” he said of Shine.
Schwartz said Shine had received more than “one more chance,” phrasing Showalter used in his request.
Shine has had 18 different convictions in the past.
“He is not a good candidate for disposition,” Schwartz concluded.
“The nature of the offense — which happened while he was under supervision in four cases and out on bond in one other case — (he) shouldn’t qualify; (there’s not a) substantially compelling reason.”
Shine asks for mercy
Shine also provided a statement before his sentencing was passed down. He said he never intended for the incident to happen.
His attempt to commit suicide by cop only happened after he had “stabbed (himself) multiple times.”
“I had no intention or purpose to harm anyone,” Shine said.
The incident happened when he was off his medication, according to Shine.
“I failed yesterday and the day before. Every day until now,” he said. “Please don’t hurt me any more than I have hurt myself.”
Ward points to history
Shine has multiple prior arrests connected to incidents domestic battery, said Ward, who argued that should have been taken into account.
“It was pointed out in the prosecutor’s office and it was pointed out to the judge today,” he said immediately after the sentencing.
“Unfortunately, statistically, these are the individuals who end up posing the greatest danger to law enforcement (officers).”
At the time of the July 31, 2017, incident, Shine was on probation out of Missouri.
He was held on bond in Cowley County until after his probation in Missouri ended. Shine then was able to leave the county jail on bond.
“He then went on to commit other crimes while he was out on bond,” Ward said. One of those was a domestic battery case.
“Mr. Shine is a violent repeat offender that should have been removed from our streets so that we can all be safe,” the chief said.
Smith: One more chance
Despite the fact that Shine qualified for automatic sentencing to prison time, he was released on probation by the end of the day.
While Shine was officially sentenced to 31 months in prison, with 12 months of post-release supervision, Smith chose to put him on probation for 24 months.
“I have spent quite a bit of time preparing for this case … there is no middle ground,” Smith said. “I have to do what I think is best for you.”
He granted the request for disposition, but was explicit on the terms that Shine would have to follow to stay out of jail.
“I am giving you an opportunity. I don’t think you deserve an opportunity. But I think you are entitled to one,” Smith said.
“There is no second chance. This is it. I don’t care if it’s a technical violation (after this).”
Should Shine violate the terms of his probation, he still would serve the original sentence of 31 months in prison.
Shine asked how soon he could leave Cowley County and implied that he though Arkansas City police would not be fair to him going forward.
“That’s between you and your probation officer,” Smith said.
Ward warns of repercussions
Ward criticized the court’s decision and said he thinks it may result in further attacks on police officers.
“The judge said it on the bench — he is soft on crime,” Ward said. “If we cannot hold accountable the person who attacks the guardians, how can we hold anyone accountable? It’s sending a horrible message to would-be offenders.”
By allowing an individual who was physically violent toward an ACPD officer to serve probation time, instead of time incarcerated as his criminal history mandates under Kansas sentencing guidelines, Ward said Smith has sent a message to other offenders that violence against law enforcement officers will be overlooked.
“I think you can take one look around the country and see that (police officers) have been under attack for several years, and the judge just brought that fight to Cowley County,” he said.