As of this date, there exists in the media a video, in fact a dash cam video showing the death of a young man at the hands of a police officer. In part, because of this video, the police officer was charged with murder. I choose not to link to that video. It is bad enough that the video has been released to the public. I have not viewed this video, so I can neither support or condemn the actions of either party. Reality is that someone died at the hands of another.
It is not my intention to sway the reader as to the guilt or innocence of the police officer. It is also not my intention to sway the reader as to the guilt or innocence of the deceased. It is the intent to provoke a conversation. A conversation about responsibility.
What happens if a jury can’t be properly seated in this case as a result of the release of the video? Is that justice for the deceased?
This officer, featured in the video, has already been convicted in the court of public opinion simply by the execution of the event in question. What purpose, other than a rush to be the top news agency, does releasing this video provide? What is achieved? Will it bring the deceased back to life? Will it ensure a speedy trial for the officer in question? Will it ensure the conviction of the officer for murder? Further, and this is very important, will it prevent future events such as this one? Will it ensure that justice has been achieved for the loss of life?
Now, it is not my intent to imply that I am for the killing of unarmed citizenry. One of my deepest fears is that my young son will be shot because law enforcement reacted to a situation in a way that has a deadly result. That is not an indication of mental illness on the part of the deceased. The simple explanation is that this writer’s son is African-American. Sadly in the United States of America, current climate in some cities by law enforcement appears to be shoot first, and question why later, this appears to be particularly true of young African-American males. This blog has made many references to the inadequacies of care and compassion in the mental health care system. Couldn’t the same also be said of the police force in this country?
There exists a misconception that all peace officers are capable of murder, willing to do murder and above the laws that they are meant to enforce. It can also be said of young African-American males, that they do things that warrant being killed. In any given population there are both good and bad.
Perhaps we need to return to the old adage that “a few bad apples will spoil the whole barrel”.
If we see a report regarding a bad cop, does that mean all cops are bad? Why or why not?
If we receive a report about a bad African-American, a bad Caucasian, a bad Latino or a bad person of any race, does that mean all of the people in that race are bad? Why or why not?
Think back. When this police officer is released because he can’t get a fair trial, there will be a riot. Ferguson, Baltimore, Los Angeles and many other places have all had riots in the wake of police violence.
Winston Churchill stated: “There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the Sibylline Books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong -these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”
~Air Parity Lost – May 2, 1935 House of Commons
We demand justice. We demand that the killing of unarmed citizens stop. We demand many things. Just as there exists no law that we are aware of that makes it okay for peace officers to be judge, jury and executioner, there also exists a law that ensures that all citizens of who come under the jurisdiction of the courts in the United States of America have a right to a fair trial. We demand justice for and on behalf of the deceased. Shouldn’t we demand justice for the alleged shooter? (I use the term alleged purposely)
I look to Edward R. Murrow for one final thought. “Except for those who think in terms of pious platitudes or dogma or narrow prejudice (and those thoughts we aren’t interested in), people don’t speak their beliefs easily, or publicly.”
We all deserve a fair trial. The deceased deserved one. The peace officer does as well.