Posted by Curt on 20 March, 2006 at 8:00 am. 23 comments already!


If your not familiar with this story check out my original post I blogged last April:

On Dec 18th, 2004 Deputy Robert Hedman and his partner Sgt Billy Anders, both working for the Otero County Sheriff?s Dept in New Mexico, responded to a call of a shooting.

When deputies went to the front door of the home, a man answered and refused to let them enter. Robert Hedman

then went to the back of the house, where he was shot by Earl Flippen. When Robert Hedman?s partner moved toward the back of the home, Flippen started shooting at him, but the deputy returned fire and killed Flippen.

That was the original news story.

Apparently what happened was that Earl Flippen killed his pregnant girlfriend and then shot and killed Billy Anders best friend (Robert Hedman) as they answered a call of shots fired. Anders shot it out with Hedman, then cuffed him and then executed him.

Sgt. Billy Anders knew something was terribly wrong. The fresh blood spots outside the roadside cabin, the hatchback with the open rear door in the driveway and the instincts he had honed as a big-city cop in San Antonio gave him reason to be alarmed.

Sergeant Anders spent time visiting friends and co-workers before starting a one-year sentence in the fatal shooting of a handcuffed prisoner in December 2004.

His gut was right.

What happened in the next few minutes on that freezing night in December 2004 would leave two men dead, a community in shock and Sergeant Anders, a beloved local sheriff’s officer nearing retirement, charged with killing a handcuffed prisoner. A video camera in the sergeant’s own patrol truck was unblinking witness.

That the victim was a white supremacist ex-convict, Earl Flippen, who had just killed his pregnant girlfriend and Sergeant Anders’s partner, sprayed gunfire around the girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter and barely missed shooting Sergeant Anders at point-blank range, was beside the point.

Sergeant Anders, who received a minimal one-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter with a firearm, says he has trouble remembering exactly what happened but recalls that he fired to save himself and the little girl.

“I remember he was moving and I considered him a threat,” he said in a rambling interview. “I don’t remember shooting him when he was handcuffed.”

Still, said Sergeant Anders, who was sentenced on March 3, his 63rd birthday: “I’m a reasonable person; I can’t argue with the videotape. If I crossed the line, I have to take responsibility.”

One less piece of dogcrap roaming the streets if you asked me. Do I condone what he did? No. But as a commentor stated on my old blog, Anders is even more of a hero with him owning up to his deed.

A big thanks to the Judge for sentencing him to the minimum.

Many see Sergeant Anders as a hero, and supporters have raised the $50,000 that his legal defense cost.

“As far as I’m concerned, Billy did everyone a favor,” said Charliss Randall, who works in the Copper Butterfly gift shop. Mr. Flippen had already killed his girlfriend, Ms. Randall noted, adding, “Who else would he kill?”

The emergency workers who rushed to the cabin that night credit Sergeant Anders with saving their lives. “I’m convinced that had he not eliminated the threat, Flippen would have started picking us off,” Grady McCright, a former volunteer fire chief of a neighboring community, said outside the sentencing hearing.

The whole story of what happened that night came out in trial:

In truth, Sergeant Anders said, he should not have been on duty the night of Dec. 18, 2004. It was his 11th wedding anniversary, and he was fighting off a case of stomach flu. But when a call came in to 911 reporting a quarrel and shots fired 10 miles east of Cloudcroft, he insisted on joining his partner and best friend, Deputy Robert Hedman.

The call took them to a cabin rented by Mr. Flippen, a 38-year-old career criminal whose “white pride” tattoos proclaimed his membership in the Aryan Brotherhood.

Shortly before the deputies pulled up, Mr. Flippen had shot to death his 30-year-old girlfriend, Deborah Rhoudes, then eight months pregnant, and rolled her body into a rug for loading into his waiting hatchback. Ms. Rhoudes’s 3-year-old daughter, Victoria, was also there.

When investigators played the videotape for Sergeant Anders three days after the shootings, he seemed stunned. He said he had no memory of shooting Mr. Flippen after handcuffing him.

“I remember being afraid,” he said, according to transcripts of interviews with the investigators. “I remember being worried for Bob. I remember the little girl screaming and carrying, you know, carrying on, being upset. But, God, I don’t remember that.”

Another article examines the psychological aspect of the case:

Psychological exams of Billy Anders show him to be a normal, conscientious, honest kind of guy.

“There are no fractures to the glass for the glass to break later, so to speak,” said psychologist Dr. Eric Westerfeld during testimony in Anders’ sentencing hearing Thursday.

[…]There are no indications suggesting problems with emotional malfunction or personality dysfunction, Westerfeld said.

“So what happened to Billy that night?” asked Anders defense attorney Gary Mitchell, referring to the night Anders shot Earl Flippin for the fifth time, after Flippin was already in the deputy’s custody.

“He went into a state of shock,” Westerfeld said. “At that point he had developed an acute traumatic stress disorder.”

Westerfeld said a number of things had just happened to Anders that qualified as traumatic.

Anders had been shot at. He had gone to the door of the residence and seen blood. He called dispatch but knew it was unlikely help would arrive soon. He had gone to the back of the house and seen his partner and subordinate, Deputy Bob Hedman, who had been shot.

“Deputy Hedman was not only someone who was his subordinate,” Westerfeld said. “He was someone who had the keys to his (Anders’) house and fed his dogs when he was gone … he was a friend.”

Anders had given orders to Hedman to return to the unit, Westerfeld said. But that’s not what the deputy did.

“He (Anders) felt as though he had failed in his supervisory role as well,” Westerfeld said. “He should have been more assertive, he felt.”

Westerfeld said someone with acute stress disorder can experience a numbing detachment and absence of emotional responses.

“He (Anders) told me he didn’t feel angry (when he shot the subject),” Westerfeld said.

In the video from Anders’ vehicle taken that night, Westerfeld said Anders’ eyes are not entirely focused, and he had a manner that lacks purpose.

Anders does not recall any part of the events as they appear in the video, Westerfeld said.

“He describes one emotion — that’s horror,” Westerfeld said. “There is more of a sense of confusion and shock. There is a reduction of awareness. Things start falling apart.”

When ASD takes effect, individuals don’t record memories in normal order, Westerfeld said.

“When he (Anders) told me in retrospect, he didn’t hear his gun fire when he did it,” Westerfeld said as an example of the memory issue. “The human organism is going through chaos at this point. The video document something different than he recalls; he can’t adjust to that.”

We’re behind you brother.

Apparently what happened was that Earl Flippen killed his pregnant girlfriend and then shot and killed Billy Anders best friend (Robert Hedman) as they answered a call of shots fired. Anders shot it out with Hedman, then cuffed him and then executed him.

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