Do not talk to the police. Do not talk to the police. Do not talk to the police.
Or as some charismatic defense attorneys have put it in a Twitter video that regularly gets passed around, “Shut the f-ck up.”
When the police are investigating a crime of some sort, they are not your friends. Even if you think you’re innocent and there’s no harm in talking to the police — because you want to be “helpful” — don’t. Stop. Do not talk to the police.
This is your life we are talking about here. Not just some vague notion of your rights, which are at play to be sure, but the real impact of losing your life by talking to the police (I mostly mean by being wrongfully imprisoned, or even if you are proven innocent later in court, going through the criminal justice system at all is negatively life-altering and not recommended).
You would think with how ubiquitous true crime is in our culture here in America, particularly highlighting the egregious abuses of power by police, prosecutors and judges and the plethora of examples of people wrongfully convicted, people would accept, “Do not talk to the police,” as a starting principle, but the case of Gabby Petito shows that such a starting principle hasn’t penetrated our consciousness as much as I would hope.
The case has achieved national recognition because it might be one of the first cases of someone who was all over new media, such as YouTube. She was actively tracking her trip with her fiancé across the United States and then turned out to be the subject of a missing persons case and then a seeming homicide case.
But national recognition means that the “court of public opinion” manifest the ugliness of our system. It is that court of public opinion and public pressure that leads to some of the aforementioned egregious errors in our criminal justice system.
When the public sees that Brian Laundrie, the fiancé, is not talking to police and instead, him and his family are directing the police to their attorney, the public paints that as a bad thing when that’s the right thing to do. Do not talk to the police.
A presumption of innocence and exercising your right to an attorney is the right thing to do because it’s a system that, when it operates as such, protects all of us. It might frustrate the public who “want justice” for Gabby, but there is no justice in getting the investigation wrong.
If Laundrie had anything to do with Gabby’s death, then the police ought to do their job and find the evidence that would bring him to justice.
Or if you didn’t want to read all of what I just said and scrolled to the bottom here, Popehat, the great defense attorney on Twitter, put it better and funnier and more succinct than I could: