I am just a social justice worker who writes liberal essays about racial injustice.
At what point do we stop giving the police the benefit of all doubts in every situation? Police kill or arrest an unarmed (usually black) individual during a questionable encounter and somehow usually get acquitted of all charges. It is as if we are stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. And yes, I understand policing is a tough job and most officers are good people who do a difficult job with professionalism and respect. But that does not mean they are all upstanding individuals with a keen moral sense. How can we expect justice if society automatically gives police a pass in cases of blatant police brutality?
Philando Castile is a prime example of a brother who did everything "right" according to police apologists. He was not committing a crime, he was respectful to the police officer and he complied with the cop's orders. Mr. Castile was a respected member of his community and his friends, family, and former students at the school where he worked all vouched for his respectable character. There is footage of the incident and any open-minded individual can see a trigger-happy and paranoid man execute another person in cold-blood. Yet, this same man was acquitted.
Now, let's discuss Laquan McDonald. Mr. McDonald was a troubled youth born to a teenage mother and diagnosed with learning disabilities and mental health problems, including PTSD. On October 20th, 2014 police were called because he was holding a knife and acting erratically. Mr. McDonald did not obey the commands of the officers to drop the knife but did not pose a threat as his back was to the police and he was walking away. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who had at least 18 citizen complaints filed against him, shot Mr. McDonald 16 times while being on the scene for less than 30 seconds. He began shooting 6 seconds after he exited his car and one of the other officers fired their weapons. Afterward, police issued the initial report which falsely stated Mr. McDonald lunged at them. Also, there was footage from a nearby Burger King which may have captured the shooting. However, there is a gap of 86 minutes during the time of the shooting. The manager of the restaurant claims five uniformed Chicago police officers gained access to the video and before the Independent Police Review Authority could see the footage, the video was erased. Officer McDonald was charged with murder a full year after the incident and that was only because a judge ordered the videotape to be released. On June 27, 2017, three Chicago officers were indicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct. These charges allege the officers attempted to cover-up the incident. Most likely, they will be acquitted of all charged or receive a plea deal with no jail time. Officer McDonald has yet to begin his trial, but it is extremely likely he will either be acquitted or have a mistrial.
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Let's also take into consideration the story of Marcus Jeter. In 2012, police were called due to a domestic-related incident involving Mr. Jeter and his girlfriend. Jeter left the residence shortly after police arrived and was later pulled over by policemen with their guns drawn. They broke the driver's side window and forcibly removed Jeter from the vehicle. Two officers, Orlando Trinidad and his partner Sean Courter, claimed on their police reports that Jeter tried to grab Courter's gun and struck Trinidad. Jeter was subsequently charged with eluding, attempting to disarm an officer, resisting arrest and aggravated assault. After reviewing the dashboard cam of Trinidad, prosecutors dismissed all charges against Jeter and charged Trinidad and Courter with official misconduct and other charges after the video proved the officers lied on their police report. Trinidad and Courter were found guilty and were sentenced to five years in prison. The question I ask is: What if there was no videotape? This poor man would have been sitting in prison for a crime he did not commit and these two "officers" would be free to continue to wreak havoc on the community.
These are just three instances of police either lying on police reports or engaging in down-right shady behavior. Please do not fall into the trap and think these are only a few isolated incidents. I could mention Michael Ackerman. Or Sasha Cordoba and Kevin Desormeau. Or William Pruente. The list goes on and on. In fact, it is probably as long as the people who blindly defend cops just because they believe a badge automatically makes you an honorable individual with the highest content of moral fiber.
This is not a hit-piece on police officers. They provide a vital service to the community and most of them are professionals who do a terribly tough job well. But, the same can be said of most people on this planet. Most people are good with a few evil-doers sprinkled in here and there. The difference is, however, when regular citizens get accused of crimes, they are not afforded every benefit of every doubt. Police officers should be the cream of the crop and held to a higher regard. They hold lives in the palm of their hand and we depend on them to be truthful. But when it is shown they are not truthful, they must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. When officers are given preferential treatment, it erodes the confidence and trust in the justice system and only helps fuel the resentment against police and the government. There is a fine line between law and order and tyranny, and protecting corrupt cops does not prove beneficial to anyone except those cops and their unions.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 David Ramos