Is there no middle ground?
On one hand are those who spray graffiti and carry signs proclaiming “ACAB” (All Cops Are Bastards.) They demand that the police be “defunded” (that is, abolished). At their (mostly peaceful!) protests, they chant “Pigs in a blanket; fry ’em like bacon,” as well as the more direct “Kill the pigs.”
On the other hand are those who insist all cops are “heroes” — every one of them. They display “thin blue line” stickers in their car windows , American flags with the line just below the field of stars colored blue instead of white. They cannot mention police without bleating the cliché that “they put their lives on the line for you every day!”
Isn’t it more likely that most police officers are decent human beings, ranging from so-so to good to heroic, but there are a few who are evil, whom we want to weed out? Can’t we just say that? It should be possible to support the police, while opposing police brutality, shouldn’t it?
Are there some cops who are racists? No doubt there are. Is it racist to assert that there are some cops (not just black cops, Hispanic cops, and Asian cops, but even white cops) who are not racist? Well, to the “progressives,” yes, it is racist to say that.
Most killings by police are justified, but too many are unjustified. (Note: “killings” rather than only “shootings,” to include non-firearm killings, like the killing of George Floyd.) Some of the killings involve white police killing black people. Are all of those killings “racist”? That depends on the definition. If the definition of ”racist” is ”all killings of black people by white police officers, regardless of all other considerations,” then the answer is yes. But, if the definition of ”racist” is ”motivated by hatred or prejudice toward people of a different race,” then some police killings are racist and some are not. Again, for ”progressives,” it is racist to say that.
While we are getting our terminology straight, note that every killing is a ”homicide,” but some homicides are justified, some homicides are murder (first degree or second degree), some homicides are manslaughter, and some homicides are accidents.
What makes a killing justified? The exact language differs from state to state, and police generally get a little more leeway than non-police, but in general, you are justified in using deadly force against a person if it is immediately necessary to prevent that person from using deadly force against you or somebody else. Also note that the legal definition of “deadly force” includes not only death, but “serious bodily injury.”
Last May, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, causing (or at least contributing to) Floyd’s death. Kneeling on somebody’s neck for a long time meets the definition of ”deadly force.” Was it justified? No, because it was not immediately necessary to prevent Floyd from killing or injuring somebody else. Floyd was down; he was handcuffed; he could have been arrested without kneeling on his neck for so long. If the officers were really concerned that he might begin fighting again with “superhuman strength,” then supplementing the handcuffs with flex-ties on his ankles, or merely holding onto his ankles, and kneeling next to him with Taser in hand, would have prevented him from harming anybody.
But Floyd was on drugs and had serious medical problems, which may have caused his death! Irrelevant. The force that Chauvin used (not just kneeling, but kneeling for a long time) was deadly force, which was not immediately necessary. If you attempt to murder somebody by shooting them at the exact moment they die of a heart attack, you don’t get a pass because of your ”good luck” that he was about to die anyway. Think of the ”angel of mercy” killings in which hospice nurses have killed people who were near death anyway.
But Floyd was a career criminal, a violent criminal who had once held a gun to the belly of a pregnant woman, a black woman, by the way, while his accomplices robbed her apartment! Irrelevant. The law is clear; there is nothing in the law about ”…but it’s OK if the person you kill is a bad person.” Gang members kill other gang members every day, but we still prosecute them.
Did Derek Chauvin kneel on George Floyd because Chauvin is a racist? We don’t have enough information. Black Lives Matter, Inc. thinks they do, because they believe in their trained Marxist hearts that every killing of a black person by a white person is racist; end of inquiry, case closed. They are wrong. Chauvin had numerous previous complaints alleging excessive force. If every one of the complaints was from a black person, that would be pretty persuasive evidence of racism. If three of the complaints came from black people and the rest were from white people, then that would indicate Chauvin is an equal-opportunity SOB. It’s still irrelevant, though, which is why no evidence regarding racism was ever introduced in the trial. The law of justification says nothing about the reason. If the neck-kneeling was not immediately necessary, then it doesn’t matter why he did it.
Just as George Floyd contributed to his own death, by being a criminal and a drug addict, and by resisting arrest, so Derek Chauvin contributed to his own troubles, by being an abusive, bullying cop. Good cops don’t need people like Chauvin. Bad cops make life miserable for good cops, and destroy all the goodwill that good cops work so hard to build and maintain. The question is how Chauvin kept his job, after all those previous allegations? Were they all false, and is that a normal number of complaints for police to have on their records? We don’t know, and we may never know.
The killing of Ashli Babbitt was murder. Cold-blooded, first-degree murder. A Capitol police officer shot her and killed her — intentionally, not accidentally. Shooting her was not immediately necessary to prevent her from harming anybody. No reasonable person could watch the video of her murder and say ”Thank God he shot her, because if he had not, she was going to kill or hurt somebody in the next few seconds.” “But, but, she might have! She was trespassing!” Yeah, here’s the thing: the law says ”immediately necessary,” not ”might have become necessary.” You don’t get to shoot trespassers unless you are a cop being protected by the ”progressives.” Thin blue line be damned, that cop should spend the rest of his life in jail, but he will not.
By the way, what was the name of the cop who murdered Ashli Babbitt? Nobody is saying, and the remarkably uncurious media is not asking. If this Brave First Responder Who Puts His Life On The Line For You Every Day really saved people’s lives on January 6, why doesn’t President* Biden/Harris pin a medal on him in the Rose Garden? Why the cover-up? Where is the promised transparency?
There are good cops who have been wronged, and we should stick up for them. Darren Wilson, a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, shot Michael Brown in legitimate self-defense. One of Brown’s thug-buddies said that Brown had his hands raised in surrender, and said ”Don’t shoot,” just before Wilson shot the ”gentle giant” for no good reason. Later, the buddy admitted he was not there at the time of the shooting, and he made up the story about “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” The FBI, at the direction of the Department of Justice (headed by Barack Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, whom we may presume are not white supremacists), investigated the case, and determined that the thug witness was lying, and that all the other witnesses, and the forensic evidence, showed that Brown never raised his hands, and never said “Don’t shoot,” and that Wilson’s actions were 100% justified. However, by the time the report came out, it was too late. Basketball shoes and large-screen TVs had been “materially liberated,” businesses and buildings had been burned, and public and private property had been trashed. To this day, there are many people who, despite the DOJ report, still believe that Brown raised his hands and said “Don’t shoot.” Darren Wilson was a good cop who did the right thing, but whose career and life was ruined, wrongly.
So where is the mayor or police chief with the common sense, and the courage, to say “Listen up. We are going to do an investigation. If the investigation shows that this police officer acted wrongly, we are going to fire him, and prosecute him, and demand an apology from anybody who claimed he was innocent before knowing the facts. If the investigation shows that this police officer acted properly, we are going to praise him, and reward him, and demand an apology from anybody who claimed he was guilty before knowing the facts. Anybody who has a problem with that does not understand the concept of justice. In either case, if anybody steals, or destroys property, or assaults others in the name of justice,’ we will find them, arrest them, and put them in jail.”
Where is the mayor or police chief with the common sense, and the courage, to say “We believe in justice for all. Repeat, all. Black and white. Male and female. Rich and poor. Police and non-police. We also believe that looting, rioting, and violence are never ‘justice.’ The definition of ‘justice’ is ‘that amount of reward or punishment that is deserved.’ Too much punishment, or too little, is injustice. Too much reward, or too little, is injustice. Anybody who loots, riots, or harms others will get all the justice they deserve.”