Just consider the case of Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett, a lawman from Indiana.
The incident occurred over the space of a handful of minutes on March 2, 2018, according to The Indianapolis Star. A man named John Baldwin Jr. who had violated his probation became involved in a chase with police.
Two other men were with Baldwin, and Pickett was called in to support the pursuit, which quickly turned into something you might see in the movies. The suspects tore through yards and screeched down alleys.
“It’s 12 minutes of chaos,” Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said. “You’re trying to listen to the lead car talk and everybody’s trying to get positioned, so you’re really trying to decipher where the best place to be and it seemed like every block that I turned, they turned a block ahead of me.”
At one point, Baldwin’s car screeched up to an apartment complex and a man named Anthony Baumgardt jumped out. Pickett followed him, as did the deputy’s police dog named Brik.
That was when Baumgardt turned and began firing a pistol at the deputy. One of the bullets struck Pickett in the head, fatally wounding him.
Baumgardt initially showed little remorse, The Indianapolis Star reported. He was holding methamphetamine at the time of the shooting and said he opened fire because he “didn’t want to get bit by a dog.”
Later, he would change his tone, even suggesting to the judge that he might seek the death penalty of his own volition. But that was an option that the Deputy’s widow, Jennifer Pickett, didn’t want.
“I do not believe that you deserve a single word from me, however, I will not allow you to stand in this courtroom without hearing this message,” she said during Baumgardt’s sentencing, The Indianapolis Star reported.
“It is impossible to put into words how our lives have changed since you murdered Jake. But this I can say confidently … I wholeheartedly agree with the plea agreement of life in prison without parole for many reasons.”
Jennifer Pickett said that she has “a core belief that no human being has the right to take another human being’s life,” which separates her from the man who murdered her husband.
“When I think of our children’s future and the future that you stole from them, I will not allow you to take up any more of their lives with a death sentence that will drag on for 20 to 30 years with frequent hearings that will constantly reopen the wound you created.
“My boys deserve better. I deserve better. And you do not deserve one more minute of our time or energy.”
Pickett’s widow went on to describe the ways in which the murder of her husband had impacted their family. As one might expect, her two boys had their innocence shattered the day they lost their father.
“They now believe this world is full of evil murderers like you,” she said.
But his death impacted far more than merely their sense of safety. It also impacted their spiritual wellbeing.
“I am left trying to understand when my little boy says he doesn’t like Jesus and God because Jesus and God get to be with the Daddy he desperately wants to spend time with,” she said.
Baumgardt was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and Jennifer Pickett has pledged not to let his lingering life torment her family once he is in jail.
“I will not allow this single, selfish action to define Jake’s life, my life, or the lives of our children,” she said.
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