It continues unabated. A NYC police sergeant shot, killed, a 66-year old woman. Deborah Danner suffered from schizophrenia. She was black, living alone. He walked. A link to the article –
As you will learn from the article, a judge refused to convict Sergeant Hugh Barry, age 32. Ms. Danner had a baseball bat. Sergeant Barry had a gun, and backup. Really? A 32-year old, physically fit man is confronted by a 66-year old woman and the only way he can subdue her is to kill her with his gun?
He couldn’t just back out of the bedroom and wait? He had to kill her then and there? And a judge found the sergeant guilty of nothing? Not with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, also in the indictment? St. Augustine said, “An unjust law is no law at all.” Is not a law, or legal system, that condones and/or ignores its officers murdering unarmed, or underarmed – inadequately armed citizens inherently unjust. I’m 6’2″. If I have a leg cramp and a handy grab golf club or baseball bat to steady myself and still I fall forward and I stick the club or bat out in front of me to break my fall, should expect to be gunned down if there happens to be a skittish, trigger happy police officer in the room?
Forget the mentally ill part of the story. Are police officers now so afraid that their immediate response to any sort of confrontation with the people they are suppose to serve is to shoot to kill? I know this isn’t the case for the police officers I happen to know. It’s not a universal mind set in the world of police officers. But what about the ones who live by and act out on this fear?
Police spokespeople constantly remind us that every time an officer makes a traffic stop, there is the potential of a fatal encounter. So they must be prepared to shoot first. There’s a hostile, well armed public out there.
Yes, there are way too many guns in private hands in the US. Yes, we are constantly whipped up by politicians and talk show hosts and provocateurs. Death is waiting for, hell, according to many of the talking heads, it’s actively looking for us. Be cautious, be afraid. The blacks, the Jews, the skinheads, the old crazy people, the homeless, the heartless money grubbers, the brown immigrants, the jackbooted FEMA agents all want us dead. We need to be ready to defend ourselves at the drop of a hat. How much of that is bullshit and/or hype to sell more guns, more ammunition, more knives, swords, shoes that’ll let you run faster than a speeding bullet? Maybe a better question is, is any of it not bullshit.
Is this what is taught in police academies? Is this why some police officers are so ready and willing to shoot to kill so often. At least for many of the women and men in blue who do the shooting, there’s a problem with that story, that rationale. There are a plethora of incidents where the assailant was armed with a gun and the police de-escalated the situation, no shots fired, no one killed. The assailants however, were not black, not brown, not yellow, not native American in almost all of those incidents.
Does this mean overt racism is at the base of all of this? Do all these police doing the shooting hate all non-whites. Some do, but overall, I think no. However one does not have to hate to be afraid. All one has to do is be told, and believe, dark skin people are dangerous, much more dangerous than white skinned ones. Is that a form of racism, yes. Is it the kind that wants to keep all non-white people in a ghetto, no, I think. I recall Denzel Washington telling a story about an incident he had getting in an elevator. When he got in, a middle aged white woman already in the elevator clutched her purse close to he breasts and backed up against the rear of the elevator. I suppose she thought Mr. Washington might steal her credit cards. And, we have a president who almost daily shouts how dangerous all those immigrants from any place south of here are. None of them are from Norway. It’s awful easy to slip into being afraid. It’s extremely challenging and time consuming to sift through the bullshit to find reality.
But what about the prosecutors and judges? And juries? We elect the prosecutors and/or judges or the people who appoint the prosecutors and judges. And we, we are the juries. If we want our police officers to understand that killing an unarmed or underarmed person just because the officer is skittish or afraid for the instant will get you fired and/or convicted, we have to vote in people who will set both policy and culture that makes it clear; you shoot and kill someone who is unarmed and/or underarmed, you’re gone. We don’t want you on our team, period. How do we accomplish that; get off the couch, organize you friends and neighbors, vote – in every single election, every damn one of ’em.
And, AND, when we’re on that jury, no more benefit of the doubt because the officers are engaged in a dangerous, stressful job. Hell, one is much more likely to be killed on the job working construction than wearing blue and carrying a gun. Unless the defendant can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that their life was in immediate, imminent danger, convict. Otherwise, the killing will go on non stop. And eventually, well, I really don’t know eventually. However I would hate to end up in a society where if you’re in trouble or you see trouble happening, the last thing you think of doing is calling the police.