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As a parent, what would you do?

What if it were your kid?

What if the son you raised and hoped would grow up right was suddenly accused of the unthinkable: A police officer is dead, and they say he's responsible.

Would you do the right thing, "the right thing" being something you have probably preached to him since he was just out of diapers?

Or would you do anything, anything you could, to get him out of trouble — mortgage your home, hire the best lawyer you can afford, tell him to say nothing — even if it might blur the line between right and wrong?

We got a glimpse of that choice this week in the case of Nicholas Lindsey. At 16, he is accused of gunning down St. Petersburg police Officer David Crawford after Crawford stopped him late one February night to question him.

If convicted, he could grow up, grow old and die in prison.

The scene on the heavily edited police video released this week shows two parents in a small interview room with the suspect. "Son, please tell me," his father says, hugging him. "It's going to be all right," his mother says.

After the shooting, his older brother told a reporter it was Nick who failed himself. He said they had what many don't: food in the refrigerator, clothes, Internet, electricity that didn't get turned off because someone didn't pay the bills. His father was a presence in his life. "He has a great family structure," his brother said.

It wasn't the first time his mother urged him to tell the truth. A police report from last year when an officer came to their apartment about a car theft shows her prodding him to tell what he knows and calling his father to get him there, too.

On the video, the suspect sobs like a small child. His mother and his father, Deneen Sweat and Nicholas Lindsey Sr., tell him they love him no matter what. And according to police — the video is blank in spots because confessions aren't released to the public before trial — he confesses. At one point, his father tells him, "You're doing the right thing right now."

Good parents have told me if their child was in serious trouble, they would lawyer up and do anything they could to insulate him and minimize his sentence. Hard to argue with that.

But what about the case of Jennifer Porter? She was 28 and a teacher when she hit four children crossing a dark street, panicked and drove away as two of them lay dying. Porter's parents tried to shield her. Her father washed blood from her car.

Would you, as a parent, do that?

There are a million things we don't know about how that scene on the video came to be, the conversations beforehand and how they decided to handle it as they did.

But there is strength and something to admire there.

We're talking about a neighborhood with a code that says telling what you know can get you hurt or worse. We live in a world where someone who shoots a cop and spurs a massive manhunt can disappear in the wind for days without people talking, as happened in Tampa when two officers were murdered in June.

Defense lawyers would have a different take on whether a suspect should talk to cops. Since their role is to protect their clients, period, I get that.

But a parent's job is something different, and there's a glimpse of that on the video, a mother and father dealing with right, wrong and their own son.

As a parent, what would you do? 04/12/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8:40am]
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