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Clemency For Cory Maye


Radley Balko has been all over the story of Cory Maye, who is on death row in Mississippi for shooting a cop. His summary post is here, though there is much more on his site. Under normal circumstances, I would have no sympathy for a cop killer, but these circumstances were anything but normal. In the process of executing a warranted no-knock search on Maye’s neighbor in the middle of the night, cops burst into Maye’s home, unannounced. Maye woke up and, fearing for his life (that of his 18-month-old child), fired on one of the police, who later died from the wound. The cop’s death is a horrible tragedy, but the cause was the cops’ mistake — breaking down the door of the wrong home — not Cory Maye’s. If Maye reasonably believed his life was in danger, the shooting was self-defense. Even if he didn’t, it is hard to see how the death penalty could be warranted. (Note to the conspiracy-minded reader: The dead cop was the police chief’s son.) Tookie Williams may not have deserved clemency, but Cory Maye certainly does. Indeed, from Balko’s reporting, I don’t believe Maye should even be in jail. More here and here.