Florida State Sen. Ronda Storms on Murder of Police Officer Ronald Harrison

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 22, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, American crime and lack of punishment. There is a murdered police officer as a result. Seven days ago, 24-year-old Michael Phillips, a career criminal, murdered Florida police officer Ronald Harrison.

Shortly after that, SWAT officers killed Phillips. Now yesterday, Sergeant Harrison was buried. And it never should have happened. That's because the killer Phillips had 19 arrests and a violent history. He should have been in prison. After he shot Sergeant Harrison, his girlfriend called 911...


MICHAEL PHILLIPS' GIRLFRIEND: I am his girlfriend and he's calling me and shooting that gun off and threatening me and I don't want to be involved, is what I'm scared of and why I called, because I think he's drunk and doing crazy stuff and he called me — he told me that he shot a copy three times.


O'REILLY: So what was Michael Phillips doing out on the street? Well, Judge Manuel Lopez put him there. Prosecutors wanted no bail on an assault beef. But Lopez let Phillips out. So we sent "Factor" producer Jesse Watters down to talk with Judge Lopez.


JESSE WATTERS: Hey, judge, why did you give that guy such a low bail? Hey, judge, why did you give Michael Phillips such a low bail? Judge, you have an obligation to talk to us here. You're a public official. Why was the bail so low?

MANUEL LOPEZ, FLORIDA CIRCUIT JUDGE: I'm not going to answer any more questions about this case right now. I've already given my statement to the media. And I'm not going to collaborate any more on this.

WATTERS: Well, a lot of people are saying that your statement was insufficient.

LOPEZ: That is the public's right to reach that opinion. I've given the only statement I'm going to give, sir. Can I make it any clearer than that? Anything else you'd like to say? I'm not going to respond to your comment.

WATTERS: Do you feel bad about what happened?

LOPEZ: What do you think, sir? I'm a father with three children. I deal with people on a daily basis. How do you think I feel about Sergeant Phillips and his family?

WATTERS: Sergeant Harrison?

LOPEZ: Excuse me, Sergeant Harrison and his family. How do you think I feel about that poor man and his family?

WATTERS: Well, I don't know. Why don't you tell me?

LOPEZ: I'm not going to elaborate on it any further. Thank you.

WATTERS: Why was the bail so low? The guy had 19 arrests. Burglary, battery, witness tampering, drug possession, it was a mile long. The guy was obviously a violent criminal with no respect for law enforcement. Wasn't there a red flag? Do you want to come on "The O'Reilly Factor?"

LOPEZ: Absolutely not.


O'REILLY: Joining us now from Tampa, Florida State Senator Ronda Storms. You know, I was glad to see one thing with this Judge Lopez. At least he was contrite with the family. You know, we've tracked down a lot of judges over the past couple of years. And very few of them have ever said anything like I feel terrible for the family, this, that and the other thing.

But Lopez — this is inexplicable. And he's a conservative judge. I mean, this is a Republican appointed by Jeb Bush. He's a little soft on crime from his record, but he's not crazy soft. How do you see this?

RONDA STORMS, FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: Well, first of all, this has been very traumatic for our community. It's been traumatic for the law enforcement family. And it's been very traumatic, I believe, for the judge. People are holding him accountable.

And I think he's being honest when he's saying he's a father, and he has three kids himself. And he's also a man. And I think he has deep regret about the consequences, but the fact of the matter is this killer was 12-years-old when he started his career. And he had a mile long...

O'REILLY: No, there's no question about it. I mean, that's why...

STORMS: Battery...

O'REILLY: Right.

STORMS: Right.

O'REILLY: Every...

STORMS: Assault...

O'REILLY: And not only that...

STORMS: Everything.

O'REILLY: ...he — not only was he a criminal with multiple convictions and a violent man, but he was a Nazi. Did you know that?

STORMS: Right.

O'REILLY: This is an Aryan guy who made statements, anti-black statements, this, that and the other thing. So you got a guy on an assault beef. And the prosecutors come in in Hillsboro County. And they say to Judge Lopez, don't let the guy out.

STORMS: Right.

O'REILLY: The guy's too erratic. He's violent. He's a racist. We've got him now. Keep him in. And not only does Judge Lopez, Senator, say I'm going to give him bail, he gives him some $150 bail. Come on. I mean, you know, fine — everybody makes mistakes, including judges, but this is a colossal mistake. Inexplicable mistake, is it not?

STORMS: Well, it's a huge mistake. And the result is blood is spilled of an innocent law enforcement officer. And that's terrible.

But it is my understanding that first, the judge made the correct, in my opinion, what is the best decision. And that was there was no bail. And then that decision was reduced to a $30,000 bail, which meant that he had to come up with $3,000, which he could put on a credit card and get out.

O'REILLY: Yes, but that was...

STORMS: And so, that was made after — right. And then that was made after four months.

O'REILLY: But the bottom line is — look, again, I admire Lopez, the judge, for at least saying that he felt sorry. And you spent some time with the Sergeant's family. I mean, they must — this guy, a civil servant. Sergeant Harrison, trying the best he can. He's killed by a thug.

But I don't think — I have to say, senator, I don't think the judge gets it. I think he says well, this happens all the time. It doesn't happen all the time.

STORMS: Well, I think what we need to take a look at in the legislature, and I believe Florida senators and Florida House members are very concerned. We were there at the funeral. We went to the wake. We sat there. We offered our condolences with the family. And so I think that they really care about it. We have two retired law enforcement officers in the Florida Senate. And I think they care about...

O'REILLY: Well, they may care, but they can't force the judges to be sane. And that's what you got...

STORMS: No, but what we can do…

O'REILLY: This judge is up for reelection in 2010. And I think the people of Hillsboro County are going to remember that.

You were going to say — I got to go, but you can do what?

STORMS: We can amend the law so that in the cases of violent criminals, we will not allow bail.


STORMS: And we can't do that.

O'REILLY: Let's hope that happens in every state, not only in Florida. Senator, thanks very much.

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