Thursday, August 14, 2014

Conflicts and Coverups

I saw on the news last night that the Ferguson police chief is claiming that the face of the officer who shot Michael Brown, Jr. was "swollen".  Ferguson police detained journalists yesterday.  It is starting to sound a little like a cover-up.

Understand, I am not defending the rioters and looters and the New Black Panther Party.  Those people are thugs and criminals trying to make hay while the sun shines.  They deserve no respect or understanding.  If they are gunned down while looting and burning, it is good enough for them. 

Let's consider the story that Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown at the time, is telling.  According to Johnson, the officer ordered Brown and Johnson out of the street.  The police officer tried to open the door of his cruiser.  The door apparently struck one or both of the young men and "ricocheted" back toward the officer.  This upset the policeman who then grabbed Brown by the neck -- most likely the collar of his shirt -- and pulled him toward the patrol car while drawing his weapon.

Conversely, the official police story seems to be that one of the two men pushed the officer into his squad car and struggled with him for his weapon.

I'm an old, white-haired hillbilly.  Grab me by the shirt collar for no reason other than you're having a bad day and then pull a gun on me, and I might shove you and struggle with you for control of your weapon.  I might well do my best to teach you a little respect and restraint.  I don't care what kind of uniform you are wearing.

In other words, there is nothing in the story the police are telling that contradicts Johnson's narrative.  As far as the officer's face being swollen, he may have gotten banged against the car or the car door, or he may have caught a forearm from Brown, who was apparently a large young man.  Regardless of how Brown reacted, if the officer instigated and then escalated the conflict, he murdered Michael Brown.

(As an aside, this sounds like the exact opposite of the confrontation that took place between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.)  

This is what I was saying in my last post, it appears that if Brown had been arrested it would have been for nothing other than "resisting" with a jaywalking charge thrown in because he and Johnson happened not to be in the crosswalk.   This incident illustrates the crux of what is wrong with the law enforcement establishment in this country -- as well as the political establishment.  If something is illegal and wrong for me as a private American citizen then it had damn well better be illegal and wrong for a law enforcement officer or the president of the United States.

We understand that police officers and other first responders have the right-of-way in an emergency and can drive above the speed limit when lives are at risk.  Police officers also act as officers of the court in executing search warrants and making arrests.

In non-emergency situations, it is illegal, or ought to be, for the cops to use their lights and sirens to get to Golden Corral before the switch-over to the lunch menu.  We all tend to look the other way when such minor "abuses" take place because we understand that police officers have a job that is sometimes very difficult, challenging, and occasionally quite risky.  As citizens who benefit from a peaceful, orderly society, we are willing to allow law enforcement officers considerable leniency in the carrying out of their duties. 

So, too, we are willing to allow officers to use their good judgment and experience in investigating "suspicious" people and activities.  Especially in areas with high crime rates, we expect the police to be somewhat more alert and proactive -- within reasonable boundaries.  The limits have to be a little flexible and open to some interpretation. 

However, a law enforcement officer putting his hands on a citizen without legal justification, e.g., self-defense or in the course events surrounding an actual crime, is wrong and well outside of the boundaries of acceptable behavior.  If the officer was planning to search or arrest Brown, the proper procedure would have been to order the men to place their hands on the squad car or get down on the ground before initiating any physical contact.  The officer should never have tried to get out of his car that close to Brown and Johnson.  Common sense and training would tell a person to stop some distance away from the subjects and maintain sufficient space to use the advantage of a firearm if it came to that.  The officer's actions would seem to indicate a certain lack of judgment and reason.

If a citizen touches a law enforcement officer, he or she is subject to arrest and prosecution.  I read the other day where a man was charged for antagonizing a police dog by shouting at it to the point the dog began to get agitated and bark.  OK, fine.  The point is that if we are going to live under the rule of law, it must be a two-edged sword, cutting both ways. 

When the enforcers of the law are a law unto themselves, we have a police state. 

With all the ugly incidents that have been taking place in Ferguson the last few days, it is easy to lose sight of the central issue.  Forget the NBPP, Al Sharpton, Benjamin Crump, and Eric Holder.  Remember Michael Brown, Jr., and the man who shot him down.

UPDATED because Denninger says it better than I can -- JRI (Just Read It).


  1. "If something is illegal and wrong for me as a private American citizen then it had damn well better be illegal and wrong for a law enforcement officer or the president of the United States."