POLICE USE OF FORCE

The Ferguson Free Fall – #handsupdontbestupid

08-12-2008 14:37:26 Riots in Piraeus

Racist white police officers in the United States of America are hunting down innocent young black men, indiscriminately killing them and getting away with it.

That’s the narrative.

That’s what CNN anchors and their African-American analysts seem to want us to believe.

I have to say, I’ve never seen such biased, uninformed and in cases, just plain ignorant “news” coverage.

The problem with the coverage is that it influences the minds of emotional people who lack the knowledge and ability to conduct critical analysis.  That’s unfortunate because media should have a responsibility to provide balance to critically important social issues so people can form their own educated opinions.

There are so many things wrong with the perspectives I’ve heard I really don’t know how much of it to confront or where to start.

In September, I wrote an article called, “The Michael Brown Shooting – Police, Race, Riots & CNN.”

It was my first attempt to confront CNN’s racially divisive, inflammatory reporting.

I never made comment regarding justification for the shooting because the facts weren’t known at that time.

That is no longer the case.

No Justice No Peace

Let’s start with, “No Justice, No Peace.”

For Michael Brown’s family, supporters and sympathizers, justice could only be defined by a Grand Jury indictment, trial and conviction for murder.

That is an extremely narrow mindset.

What would have happened if the Grand Jury granted an indictment and Officer Wilson was acquitted at trial?

The emotional outrage, looting and riots would have only been delayed.

Ron Christie (The Daily Beast)
Ron Christie (The Daily Beast)

Daily Beast Columnist Ron Christie (@Ron_Christie) added an interesting perspective to the Ferguson fallout;

“Civil rights figures decided long ago that the only fair outcome would be indictment. But that was driven by ideology, not facts.”

The “facts” seem to getting in the way of the #ferguson story.

The Unarmed Black Teen

Media outlets across the US and Canada constantly refer to Brown as, “The unarmed black teen,” a characterization that helps frame the unlawful killing narrative.

Completely vacant in the CNN reporting have been any statistics or analysis regarding law enforcement deaths that result from police officers being disarmed and shot to death with their own firearms.

Since the year 2000, unarmed suspects have disarmed and killed fifty-seven (57) police officers in the United States.

These statistics are readily available to media outlets yet not a whisper of such incidents have been reported.

Officer Down Memorial Page
Officer Down Memorial Page

In 2014, police officer David W. Smith of the Johnson City Police Department, New York, was shot and killed after a suspect disarmed him and shot him before he was able to exit his cruiser car.

A firearm is an essential piece of equipment for a law enforcement officer.  It has life saving potential for the citizens we swear to serve and protect, for our brother and sister officers and for ourselves.

Unfortunately, every police officer knows this vital piece of equipment can also have deadly consequences for us.

I’ve had suspects attempt to disarm me and I know of several incidents where my brother and sister officers have had the same experience.  If a police officer loses their firearm, they are likely to lose their lives.

Media accounts report Michael Brown was 6’6” and weighed in the vicinity of three-hundred (300) pounds. Officer Wilson is reported to be around 6’4” and weighs approximately two-hundred-ten (210) pounds.

These estimates indicate Brown had a significant one-hundred (100) pound weight advantage over Wilson.

Officer Wilson testified Michael Brown attacked him and attempted to disarm him while he was still seated in his police vehicle.  Forensic evidence supports his version of events.

Wilson would have been a fool to engage Brown in a physical altercation after Brown demonstrated the intent to disarm him.  After demonstrating that intent, Wilson was clearly justified in his belief Brown presented a deadly threat to him.

The Strong Arm Robbery

Approximately ten minutes before the deadly encounter, Michael Brown was involved in a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store where he stole a handful of cigarillos.

While Brown’s parents, family lawyers and supporters suggest he was a gentle, non-violent teen, we can rely on video taped evidence to give us reliable evidence to the contrary.

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 11.34.36 AM
Ferguson Police Video (Screenshot)

Brown supporters downplay, minimize and even dismiss the entire episode as irrelevant.

As I previously wrote, the fact Brown committed a crime and was extremely aggressive with the store clerk does not mean the shooting was justified.  Having said that, it has to be a relevant factor for consideration.

Is there any reason to believe Brown’s aggressive demeanor somehow miraculously changed a mere ten (10) minutes after the robbery?

Wilson testified Brown was walking directly down the middle of the street when he encountered him.

While I’m not an FBI profiler, I respectfully suggest walking down the middle of the street after committing a felony robbery is indicative of someone who has a highly aggressive mindset.

Not in the mind of one CNN analyst who suggested Officer Wilson should have just driven away when Michael Brown offered resistance.

Really, I thought.

Is that the kind of Country you want to live in?

A Country where cops drive away from offenders to avoid confrontations.

Some might call that anarchy.

While I don’t blame Brown’s mother or father from having a skewed perspective on this, I expect much more from legal analysts and reporters from major news networks.

The Forensic Evidence

Much of Officer Wilson’s account is supported by forensic evidence.

The most significant aspect of this evidence confirms Brown closed a distance of up to twenty-five (25) feet on the officer in the moments preceding the last deadly volley of shots.

Wilson and independent witnesses indicated Brown, “charged”, the officer before he was shot and killed.

African-American CNN analysts, Brown family lawyers and sympathizers remain skeptical of this evidence and have stated Michael Brown would never have charged an armed police officer.  Some have suggested the idea that Brown would have charged the officer is ludicrous as black teens in America are “trained” to recognize the extreme risk such a course of action presents.

With respect, common sense dictates we should trust forensic evidence over these kinds of perceptions.

The Officer’s Testimony

The CNN hosts and analysts have made much of Officer Wilson’s articulate, dispassionate testimony and have referred to it as, “rehearsed or coached,” covert euphemisms for, “contrived, deceptive or false.”

In reality, police officers are trained to give clear, concise and direct evidence.

When I prepared for murder trials I spent days reading transcripts, reviewing evidence and formulating arguments to defend my cases.

Imagine being a professional police witness, potentially on trial for your life, and not spending every waking hour working on your trial preparation.  Police witnesses are expected to be prepared to provide clear, cogent oral testimony, anything less would be considered completely unprofessional.

The insinuations by CNN hosts and analysts to the contrary, demonstrate complete ignorance.

Victim Blaming

Of all the troubling perspectives expressed by the Michael Brown camp, the most shocking is the highly motivated desire to completely absolve the young man from any responsibility for the events that led to his death.

Those in the absolve Michael Brown from any responsibility camp, suggest the grocery store robbery and later assault on Officer Wilson are all facts we should ignore.

Lamont Hill (Twitter)
Marc Lamont Hill (Twitter)

CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill, a Professor at Morehouse College, went so far as to suggest raising these questions is equivalent to victim blaming.

He even drew a correlation between assigning responsibility to Brown and blaming rape victims for wearing provocative clothing.

The suggestion is outrageous.

Rape victim’s are not perpetrators of crime, they’re victims of it.

Michael Brown was a perpetrator of a crime that brought him into conflict with an officer of the law.

The difference is immeasurable.

It troubles me that intelligent men like Mr. Hill are so ready to dismiss Brown’s criminal conduct as a contributor to the eventual outcome.  He’s not alone, his opinion is widely shared in the black community.

While I agree with the idea a young black man shouldn’t die for stealing a few cigars, I have no problem assigning a degree of responsibility if the theft is followed up with a felonious assault on a police officer.

The Racist Lie

The racist narrative pushed by CNN and main stream media is best confronted by Ron Christie who wrote;

“Last year, 76 law-enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, and I’m hard pressed to name one of them. Yet, high-profile cases such as the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have made these names well-known around the world. Their sad fame comes at the hands of those who push the narrative that white cops are motivated by racial animus to kill blacks. How else to explain the media ignoring the thousands upon thousands of blacks who die at the hands of other blacks—but the sensationalized 24/7 coverage involved when violence is inflicted at the hands of whites toward blacks?”

Sound familiar?

In Winnipeg, we experience the same kind of racially divisive reporting.

Winnipeg Police Officers have been accused of racially profiling and executing Aboriginal men in several high-profile deadly force encounters.

I worked one such case, a fatal police shooting, an Aboriginal man shot to death and the immediate reaction from the Aboriginal leadership and community leveling accusations of racism and racial profiling against the shooter.

In a remarkable twist, the shooter turned out to be an Aboriginal police officer.

That unfortunate news destroyed the narrative.

It makes me wonder.

What would have happened if Officer Wilson had been an African-American police officer?

What would have happened in Michael Brown was an unarmed Caucasian teen?

Would anyone care?

The Protests

Media creates perceptions and perceptions become reality for those who consume the toxic waste.

The Michael Brown shooting has created what many people equate to a new millennium civil rights movement.

To me, that’s the greatest tragedy in all of this.

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was a peace-loving, brilliant visionary and champion for the rights and freedoms of all African-Americans.  The protests, protestors and cause created desperately needed social change in a bitterly segregated Country.

Dr King’s sacrifice made the impossible become possible, an African-American President named Barack Obama.

The question I continually hear from many of the black analysts on CNN is, “What do we tell our young black men and teens?”

It’s not that complicated in the context of the Michael Brown case.

Don’t break the law and have respect for law enforcement.

If Michael Brown had done either of these two things he would still be alive today.

Of that, there is no doubt.

#handsupdontshootbestupid

Side Bar

I grieve for Michael Brown’s parents, siblings, family and all those who loved him.

There are no winners in a deadly force encounter with police.

In all the analysis and speculation I have yet to hear any news media question one officer patrol car staffing protocols.

In my estimation, the fact Officer Wilson was working a one officer patrol car was a significant factor in Michael Brown’s death.

In Winnipeg, police officers work two officer patrol cars.

Two officer patrol cars have a significant impact on an offenders flight or fight response.  I have no doubt two officer patrol cars significantly reduce police vs perpetrator violence and the need for escalation to deadly force encounters.

It follows that two officer patrol cars reduce police officer deaths.

The Winnipeg Police Service has not lost a police officer in the line of duty since 1970.

FACTOIDS:

The Winnipeg Police Service employs 1,442 sworn officers and protects a population of approximately 700,000 people.

The City has long been designated the murder capital (per capita) of Canada.

The City also leads the Country in violent crime, youth crime, robbery and gang crime.

3 Comments

  1. Another great articles James. Keep up the good work. If society does not stand behind those who are there to uphold the law and to ensure that others comply with the law, we will certainly face anarchy.
    Thank you for what you are doing.
    Rod

  2. James a very intriguing article you wrote here. I think its time some of these groups take responsibility for their own actions. But we hear the same BS every time, the victim was a nice guy and was turning his life around. I’m sure you were aware of Michael Browns record that included him been involved in a persons death, while a minor. But that somehow didn’t make it to the news. While you mention how some races are killing each other in record numbers, that’s somehow not news worthy. How many innocent blacks are been killed in Chicago each year by gangs. Oh and also gang on gang killings? And while you bring up the ongoing situation in Winnipeg I couldn’t agree more. I will say this the other day a St. Louis police chief stood up, and said the real issues should be talked about. All the killings amongst the black community, and how nobody ever mentions that. A thought crossed my mind while watching that. Oh how I wish the police chief in Winnipeg had the balls to do the same thing. Because I’m personally getting tired of the race card thrown towards the police and to citizens of this city. And yes I’m also talking about the CBC who just about called everyone in this country a racist. Look the fact is some people just need to obey laws and you want have to deal with the police, that’s the reality. The police are surely not going shooting people of certain races for no reason. I really don’t think police are that stupid, do you? Well of course only if you are watching the Simpsons chief Wigum it might be.

  3. Well said.I have to mention that I’m half black and when I hear of these shootings I tend to blame the police , but after reading a few of your articles on the subject I find myself agreeing with you.You are very neutral and articulate.Keep up the good work and it’s officers like you that renew my faith in law enforcement !

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