Podzilla 1985

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guns Aren't a Problem - Excessive Force Is

This is going to be another one of those posts that come from the heart, so be prepared for all of the kinds of errors, unpopular opinions, and rhetoric that comes from an emotional person. I'm also writing it while being sick enough that I should be in bed.

I never was very good at slowing down.

This whole Micheal Brown thing still bothers me. When you look past the riots, the looting, the autopsies, the snakes in the grass looking for TV time, and all of the other things that go with this tragedy, you come back to the facts. The facts, as they've always been, are that officer Wilson shot Micheal Brown multiple times and killed him.

I know everyone is watching the networks and waiting anxiously to find out whether or not this killing was justified. It's become a game for some people. It's a drama ready for the prime time, somewhere between repeats of Law and Order and CSI. In a way, it kind of reminds me of the OJ Simpson trial. It's like Chris Rock said in one of his stand up specials on HBO - black people are too happy, and white people are too mad. Despite a lot of peoples best attempts to steer this tragedy away from a pool of racism, we still find ourselves knee deep in it.

It has always been my fear that the life of Micheal Brown would become secondary to the issues that may or may not be behind his death. His death, first and foremost, should be mourned and not exploited, as it has been since day one.

Still, I do understand the importance of preventing a tragedy like this from ever happening again, and I believe we must investigate and evolve as a human race.

Is it about racism? Maybe, maybe not. There are two thought processes for what happened to Micheal Brown. Either he was an innocent bystander and was gunned down for no reason, or he was charging the officer, who shot him at least six times in self defense. Either way it went down, one thing remains constant - Darren Wilson shot an unarmed Micheal Brown multiple times.

And to me, that is the biggest problem of them all. Since when did it become okay for police officers to use deadly force against an unarmed subject? Micheal Brown was an eighteen year old kid, and Darren Wilson is a veteran police officer with what I assume is extensive police training.

Why did Wilson think his gun was his only option?

Why did he fire so many times?

Why was there no alternative way to stop Micheal Brown?

This is not going to be an article bashing police officers. I have nothing but respect for people that put their lives on the line every day to keep complete strangers safe. It would be different if it were only police officers that were guilty of excessive force, but if you've kept up with the news this year you would know that killing potential threats is all the rage these days.

We've discussed the sad tale of Haile Kifer and Nick Brady, two teenagers who were executed after they broke into the home of sixty five year old Byron Smith. Smith set a trap for the two, and when they entered his basement he gunned them both down. In audio he recorded himself, he can be heard taunting eighteen year old Haile before finishing her off with another shot under the chin.

He said it was self defense to kill two unarmed teenagers after he had already subdued them with the first shot. In this case, both of the kids were white.

He was convicted of murder on April 29th.

We also talked about Theodore Wafer, a Detroit homeowner who was awakened by the sound of banging on his door in the wee hours November of last year. The person on his porch was Renisha McBride, a nineteen year old woman who had been in a car accident earlier that night and was described as being confused and disoriented. How and why she ended up knocking on Wafer's door will never be known, as the homeowner opened his door and immediately shot the young girl in her face with a shotgun without saying a single word to her.

He said it was self defense to shoot her, and elected to do so instead of calling the police or barricading himself in his room.

He was convicted of murder on August 7th.

Most recently there was the case of Tom Greer, an eighty year old man who came home to find Andrea Miller and Gus Adams already inside robbing it. The two thieves assaulted the elderly man, who suffered bruises and a broken collarbone, before resuming their thievery. Greer managed to sneak to his gun and opened fire on the two crooks. They ran away, but that wasn't enough for the elderly man. Though he was now safe, he actively pursued the two and managed to hit Miller in the back. She fell to the ground and begged him not to kill her.

As he told police later, Miller yelled - "'Don't shoot me, I'm pregnant! I'm going to have a baby!' and I shot her anyway."

He said it was self defense to kill the unarmed woman he had already chased off and then subdued in a nearby alley.

He has yet to be charged with any crime.

This is just a quick list of the most recent instances I could think of where people have used self defense as an excuse for murder. There is a never ending tunnel filled with people who were killed in the name of "justice" and "self defense."

Sean Bell. Kelly Thomas. Dylan Taylor. Milton Hall. Deandre Brunston. Eric Garner. Oscar Grant. Samantha Ramsey. The list could go on and on.

Most of these people were not committing violent crimes. They weren't murderers, and a lot of them weren't wanted criminals at all. Why has it become standard procedure to kill someone in situations where they might cause physical harm or, even more disheartening, simply try to get away?

I'm not saying that criminals should be given a free pass to do whatever they want. That's an idiotic thing to say, and it's the kind of baseless defensive tactic that someone uses rather than discussing something rationally.

I just remember a time when people weren't so quickly to kill someone else. There was a line in the movie Friday where John Witherspoon explains to Ice Cube that people used to pick up their fists to defend themselves. And as he said, you might lose, but you live. You live to fight another day.

I never thought I would miss the day when police brutality just meant that they beat someone up in custody. Remember when you would hear about cops beating people with nightsticks and that was cause for revolt?

It's disgusting how we seem to be evolving into cold blooded killers who are desensitized to death.

It's not just guns. This isn't one of those articles where I condemn gun owners and I hit you with my liberal bullshit that makes you watch Sean Hannity for reassurance. If Tom Greer had the chance to stab Andrea Miller, he would have. He would have beat her with a baseball bat. He would have shaken pop rocks and a Coke together if it would have actually caused her head to explode.

We would rather kill each other than think of other ways to defend ourselves. We're taught that our safety is of the utmost Importance, which it is, and that the most basic solution is the best one to go with. You threaten me with bodily harm, and I'm going to gun you down instead of possibly taking that ass whooping.

And why shouldn't we think that way? The law is in our favor, right? Look at George Zimmerman!

Except, you know, it isn't. Ask Byron Smith and Theodore Wafer. Also, ask Tom Greer in a few months when they inevitably put his eighty year old ass on trial for cold blooded murder.

It is not acceptable to take another life in the name of self defense when other options are available. Smith could have called the police after he shot Kifer and Brady the first time. Wafer could have called the police instead of opening the door and blowing away that poor girl. Greer could have scared away his robbers and called for help once he was safe. Those people did not have to die.

Micheal Brown did not have to die, either. If officer Darren Wilson had been equipped with something other than a gun, that young man might have spent a few nights in lock up rather than the morgue. Why didn't officer Wilson use a taser? Why didn't he have rubber bullets, or some other kind of non lethal ordinance to subdue a suspect? Or, as a trained police officer, did he not physically put an eighteen year old on the ground like they're supposed to be trained to?

I read that when asked about alternative methods to stop would be criminals, St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson said that - "it certainly is reasonable that an officer has an expectation to go home at the end of the night."

That is reasonable.

Is it unreasonable for someone, including someone who makes a very stupid choice, to have the same right? There are absolutely situations where it's you or them, and I'm not saying every case of lethal self defense should be tried as murder. It is when you choose to kill when presented with other viable options that you have become a killer and not a victim.

It doesn't take much to change this situation. We need better training, common sense, and a healthy respect for the right to live through our mistakes.

This is America. This is 2014. We don't have to live and die by the proverbial gun.

It is not the wild west anymore, and that thought process is what really needs to die.

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