This Friday will mark a year since Black Pistons Motorcycle Club Member Zachariah “Nas T” Tipton was shot and killed by Iron Order Motorcycle Club prospect Kristopher Stone. It was and remains a bizarre case that still stinks of political corruption and injustice.
Tipton died after he assaulted Stone for insulting him. Insulting members of other motorcycle clubs is the whole point of the Iron Order. The club is very public and its members are very performative. The club, which was started by policemen, insists on wearing an outlaw patch with a state bottom rocker. They also choose to wear black and white and that has always been intended to enrage the American Outlaws Association and the Black Pistons.
Last Saturday, a woman named Susan Cooper Eastman wrote a feature article in Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly magazine in which she explained how very much she didn’t get the dispute between Tipton and Stone. You can read the Folio Weekly article here.
Boy Scout Patch
“I can understand competing criminal enterprises having turf wars over their trade routes or their customer base. I can understand if the Outlaws and the Hells Angels fought over their territories like the Sinaloa and the Juarez cartel in Mexico or the Crips and the Bloods in Los Angeles or the way the Trafficante family offed rivals to take over the criminal underworld in Tampa.
“But the Nippers brawl was over embroidery.
“Pardon me and respect to the dead and all that, but Zachariah Tipton, father-of-three and all-around-joyously boisterous guy, died because of something along the lines of a Boy Scout patch sewn onto a motorcycle jacket? Because of the colors black and silver?”
Yes Susan, some men fight over matters of honor. Some men die for the Red, White and Blue. Some men fight when you grope their wives. Some men fight when you step on their toes and refuse to apologize. Some men fight when you interfere with their right to make a living.
Zach Tipton died because the Jacksonville chapter of the Iron Order went out of its way to insult somebody, knowing that somebody would fight, then used the fight as an opportunity to kill a member of another motorcycle club in order to enhance their territory and reputation. Tipton punched Stone in the nose. The encounter lasted less than ten seconds and Tipton was already backing away from his killer when Stone fired at least four shots, one of which struck Tipton in the head.
Then Iron Order club officers ingratiated themselves to local police, used official, military connections to spirit Stone away and corrupted the official investigation. Then Iron Order members crowed on social media for months that Tipton should have brought more than his “fists to a gunfight.” Then members of the same motorcycle club hacked this site and shut it down for 19 days in order to silence criticism of them. They got away with that, too. They consider themselves to be above the law. Police consider the Iron Order to be colleagues in the law.
Local authorities did not give a damn about Zach Tipton’s life. They presumed that he was a criminal doing a criminal thing to a brave, young hero and the night Tipton died they concluded that Stone’s murder of Tipton was justifiable homicide.
Controlling The Narrative
After that, official Jacksonville decided to dominate the narrative with silence. State Attorney Angela Corey said nothing for 134 days. A reasonable person might wonder why she said nothing. A cynic might conclude she was trying to manipulate public perception of a murder. Last November 12, Corey finally spoke and declared that Stone would not be charged “with any crime.” She said that Stone acted reasonably, in fear of “great bodily harm.”
Not charging Stone was a legal error committed at Corey’s discretion. The clear case law, from E.A v. Florida states, “Great bodily harm defines itself and means great as distinguished from slight, trivial, minor, or moderate harm, and as such does not include mere bruises as are likely to be inflicted in a simple assault and battery…. Whether the evidence describing such harm or injury is within the meaning of the statute…is generally a question of fact for the jury.”
Corey simply chose not to uphold the law and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
Yes Susan, injustice makes some people fighting mad, too.
The Official Report
Corey and her assistant, Brian Brady, issued a report and an edited videotape that was intended to justify Tipton’s murder. The report also took pains to vilify the Black Pistons. The report states that Tipton attacked Stone, not because he felt insulted, but because the Black Pistons were “muscle” for the Outlaws and the attack was the fruit of the Iron Order’s refusal to pay a “tax” to the big club. The report is all nonsense like “At approximately 8:08 p.m.” and it is blatant propaganda.
There is no bringing Zach Tipton back but there is no reason to just ignore the lies and innuendos of Corey’s written report on Tipton’s murder either. History has a right to know who the Iron Order were, who Angela Corey was and who Zach Tipton was.
This morning Jonathan J. Luca, a Jacksonville attorney who has counseled both the Black Pistons and the AOA and who is familiar with the facts of the case, spoke to The Aging Rebel about the Tipton whitewash.
An Opposing View
“The biggest legal issue for me,” Luca said, “is how Angela Corey presented this case to the public – as a ‘notorious biker gang member’ versus a military service member. And that she actually chose not to arrest Stone and appointed herself judge and jury. She doesn’t do that for just anyone.”
Luca finds it unfair that the Outlaws “continue to have the term ‘gang’ pinned on them for nonexistent illegal activities while the Iron Order avoids gang designation by its key membership personnel. In reality, the Iron Order should be the prime definition of a ‘gang’ and charged with RICO and conspiracy.”
Luca is still bothered by “the lack of alcohol or drug testing on the shooter and the absence of first aid offered by the Iron Order members who were standing there. They walked over, looked at the body then walked away.”
Typical of the propagandistic style of the State Attorney’s report is a line which reads, “The video depicts the members of the Black Pistons fleeing the scene after the fight. No member of the Black Pistons can be seen giving aid to Zachariah Tipton.” In the reality which is not edited by prosecutors and policemen to serve their own ambitions, the Black Pistons did render aid. But the edited video does not show it. Which is exactly, precisely, misleadingly, sophistically, what the report states. Seven months after the release of the report, that still bothers Luca, too.
“Contrary to Angela Corey’s assertion, after she conveniently trimmed the video, the Black Pistons did actually render aid.”
The passage in Corey’s report that rankles Luca most reads: “Zachariah Tipton was found with brass knuckles which had fallen out of his pocket, two full clips of hollow point rounds inside his pants pocket, three pocket knives inside various pants pockets, and a nylon gun holster clipped to the inside of his waist band. A gun was not recovered from Zachariah Tipton, however, this is after the member of the Black Pistons came to the body of Zachariah Tipton and walked away with the rolled up vest.”
Luca responds, “The brass knuckles were actually a belt buckle and attached to his belt. There was no fingerprinting of the items allegedly taken from Tipton’s pockets – the magazines and the knives. I am bothered by the accusation that the Black Pistons came wearing teeth guards. The police interviewed very view promotional or organizational riders. It is important to me that the video shows an Iron Order member pick something up from between vehicles and keep it.”
In the official account, Kris Stone was so terrified of Tipton that he wet himself. Luca said, “I don’t see the shooter’s pants being wet immediately. Finally,” the lawyer said, “the vest was not rolled or concealing anything. That’s merely more spin by Angela Corey.”
“For a few short years an influence stirs,” the poet John Masefield wrote about the aftermath of a man’s death. A year later, Zach Tipton’s influence still stirs.