Thursday, January 08, 2009
The killing of Oscar Grant at the hands of a BART Transit Police Officer last week is consuming the Country. Grant appeared to be subdued when he was shot to death by BART Transit officer Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle has now resigned, but anger continues to build around the Country (and in some cases...around the World).
I looked at video of the incident for several minutes, and I believe I understand what happened. Definitely a tragic situation all the way around. Of course the rioters, and the anti-police folks will milk this as long as they can... as they probably should. But I never see any outrage about all the Black on Black killings. And where was the outrage when Chauncey Bailey was brutally murdered by Urban terrorists in Oakland? I know... i'm going off the rails a little... I want to stay on track, because I need to be brief. But somehow it's o.k. if young Black males die at the hands of other Black males on the street.
"But Angry Independent, he was killed with a gun, not a taser". Yes, i'm fully aware....
I will have to come back for a Part II to explain my thinking on that front... I just don't have the time at the moment. But this case has the potential to be one of those defining moments for the Law Enforcement community. Sir Robert Peel, The Introduction of the Police Car, Miranda v. Arizona, AFIS, The 1986 FBI Shootout in Miami, DNA Testing, The Philadelphia vs. MOVE disaster, Rodney King, Waco, Ruby Ridge, The North Hollywood Shootout, Columbine, etc... all Watershed moments in Law Enforcement. And Oscar Grant could be added to that list. It has the potential to change the way police officers are trained, and could change Use-of-Force procedures.
Did Tasers kill Grant? Indirectly... there is a good case for that argument. As I had mentioned in a posting about tasers last year.... the training for these weapons should be increased (if the devices are even safe...that's still debatable). Also, these weapons should probably be issued to only a select few officers. And for all those who are against tasers.... you should probably pay close attention to this case. The problem (and the investigation will probably lean this way) has to do with the stupid design of tasers. Cases like Grants are disasters waiting to happen.
But there is no excuse for the officer involved. The officer should be criminally charged and taken into custody. A Negligent Homicide case... or, at the least, a charge of Manslaughter, is in order. My post title isn't in any way intended to make excuses for the actions of the officer involved. From what I saw... he is a bonehead. And it appears that the Use-of-Force Continuum was not being followed at the time of the incident. For that... they should pay a serious legal and financial price.
I will try to come back to this topic later in the week... to explain my perspective on this in a little clearer detail. Right now, I have to get to bed. The rest of the week is going to be hectic for me... especially tomorrow.