Thursday, May 18, 2017

Where Did Our Humanity Go?

Late yesterday, Betty Shelby, a white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma was found not guilty for shooting Terence Crutcher, an African American man who was unarmed at the time.  Crutcher, when looking at the video of the shooting from above, seemed to be following police instructions when he was shot.  He had been waiting for the police because his car had stalled as he was going home from college classes, he had no criminal history, and although the police said he was high on PCP, that would be impossible to determine from an external examination.  He didn't rush the officers, and there were not sudden justifiable movements.  She killed him with a head shot.  She murdered him, and she was let go because, as a professional police officer who is supposed to be trained in conflict deescalation, she said she was scared.

This was a human being she murdered.  She, at the very least, was incredibly incompetent at being a police officer; at worst, she shot him because he was black.  Regardless, this is how little our society values life.  We let her go because society ALWAYS hands police officers the benefit of the doubt (whether they deserve it or not) and because, after the fact, she convinced herself she was afraid of something which clearly wasn't going to happen.

Police occasionally have to fire their weapons.  Most of the time, law enforcement officials are justified in the use of force, but we have this inexcusable continuing trend of COMPLETELY unjustified murders by police officers.  It's a small amount of the police shootings, but it's there!  You'd think, for the betterment of our society and the reputation of the law enforcement, police, lawmakers and prosecutors would hold police officers to a much higher standard than regular citizens, but instead, we hold them to the lowest standard we possibly can.  "You were scared? Well good enough for us!"

Police Departments defend these shootings, these unjustified murders, by insisting the guy who was shot was a much worse human being than they actually were, adding tremendous pain and suffering to the family members who have to bury a loved one.  When evidence arrises which contradicts the official police story of the shooting, they either lock down and try to prevent the information from getting out, or adopt a reserved sorrow which says, "we're sorry, but we're still on the side of the officers."

Prosecutors and District Attorney's don't treat police shootings as they should either.  They always are looking for the slightest twitch, the most outrageous speculation, or a long ancient library fine to justify saying, "Clearly the suspect deserved getting a round blasted through their skull."  When they do charge an officer with a crime, even when the evidence points overwhelmingly to murder, like with Officer Shelby, their goal isn't finding justice for the victim's family, only to put forward a "good enough" court case, so they can say, "well, we tried!"

Legislatures across the country have adopted laws which make it almost impossible to hold a police officer accountable, even in cases where their egregious behavior demands charges, like with Officer Shelby.  In many states, a police officer can be recorded walking into a crowded bar, off duty, drunk as a skunk, and gun down someone in cold blood.  The way Legislatures write the laws, a case like that has a 20% chance of being dismissed!

The police union might offer the murdering police officer free financial planning.  They tell the officer how to shield their assets from the only justice the victim's family has in the US today, the civil trial.  A civil trial won't allow half ass excuses, stupidity or blind police loyalty to override what everyone can see with their eyes.  Shelby will be found guilty of murdering Crutcher in civil court, but because of careful financial maneuvering, that justice is drying up too.  Many victims families are lucky if their pain and suffering will ever warrant more than a minimal pay garnishment, while the real assets of the murderer are protected from seizure, thanks to the police union.

And the gun manufactures cheer on this carnage, screaming it was a quality kill, and how YOU need to be afraid of all people, especially the "you know who's," so go buy yourself 10, NO 15 guns!!!  Then you'll be really safe!

Police, if you pull a weapon in an effort get an individual to comply, why the hell are you targeting their head/heart, especially when they're ten or more feet away from you?  A round to the leg will do some serious damage, and NO!  The world is not a movie where the villain takes a round and gets back up like a zombie.  Do police not realize these unjustified shootings erode the confidence in the police as a whole? Just once I'd love to hear a police officer say, "wow, that officer should've NEVER done that.  They should be charged with a crime."  Instead, they rally around all officers, even the ones who murder, convincing themselves the victim was a criminal.  Shelby shot Crutcher, a guy who was having car trouble on the way home from school.  He wasn't a criminal, and if anyone other than than a police officer had done it, they'd be in jail for decades.

Are there racists police officers?  According to the police officers I've known as friends over the years, yes.  Every police department of ten or more seems to have at least one guy who clearly has some racists tendencies or sympathies.  But let me be the first to say, I don't feel these police murders are necessarily perpetrated by racists.  I feel most of these shootings are perpetrated by officers who are ignorant of race, believing stereotypes which override their police training.  Ignorance can be corrected with education, but society defends, validates and demands we worship these 'police on civilian' murders, regardless of how bad it looks.  All your doing is taking what could possibly be a non-racist shooting, and turning it into an undeniable racist murder.

Black Live Matter has a very legitimate point, we do treat African Americans worse.  How many shootings of black men do we have where they're unarmed and complying with officer requests?  How many times does the police, prosecutors, union, and media all label the victim as a bad guy, just to validate the police officer's actions?  Byron Smith, an elderly white man, killed two kids who broke into his house in Little Falls.  He shot each once to incapacitate them, then torture killed them, executing them in a deprived and sickening manner.  How many people DEFENDED him?  There are a shocking amount of people who think Crutcher got what he deserved and Smith was wrongly persecuted.  That's sad.

And to people who scream "All Lives Matter" whenever anyone says Black Lives Matter, give it up.  In the rare case you're NOT screaming it just try to drown out the legitimate concerns of African Americans, if you truly believer All Lives Matter, then why are you so silent when a murder like Crutcher happens?  All should mean 'ALL.'

What should be the reaction after an officer unjustifiably murders an unarmed African American who's complying with their orders, from 10 or more feet away?  I would hope the police would stop swaddling the officers after the shooting, instead treating it with the same level of concern and resources they would if an officer had been shot.  Police departments should have mandatory training so officers know not to aim for the head or heart with their warning shot.  We should have mandatory body and vehicle cameras. If a conflict happens and the footage somehow disappears, it shouldn't be considered evidence in favor of the officer.  How about an independent review of all police shootings?  How about Legislatures, police unions and the gun manufactures act like a person's been killed, not high-fiving, acting like their favorite sports team won a game, and continuing to stack the playing field so their team won't ever lose.  Have laws which state all finances of the officer at the time of the shooting will be considered for penalty in a civil trial, not the assets remaining after the officer has placed all their assets in other people's names.  At the very least, can we make sure the people who murder innocent, unarmed African American men are no longer allowed to be police officers, and can no longer carry a gun, EVER?  Is that really too much to ask?

I'm so damn tired of all of this.  The vast majority of police officers are amazing people, but these few incidents tarnish them all.  I'm tired of weeping family members asking "why did you shot them, they were doing what you asked." I'm tired how we treat police officers who murder as 'heroes,' to be saluted because they killed a weaponless black man.

In America, we label an unarmed man gunned down due to the color of his skin, a good kill.  Where has our humanity gone?

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