Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Killing of Oscar Grant - Death By Taser?

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.


rikyrah said...

this man was MURDERED.

What kind of a cop doesn't know which side his GUN is on and which side his TASER is on.

It's not like this guy was a threat - he was face first on the GROUND, AI.


Brian said...

"he was face first on the GROUND, AI."

I know... I played the videos 20-30 times. I guess I should have written 100 times that the officer should be charged with homicide/2nd degree murder. But I don't think even that would have gotten through.

I have to close this post... (this is why I should have never posted and it is the reason I usually don't deal with topics of this particular nature).

Because folks who don't know what the Hell they are talking about are already attacking me (not you Rikyrah).

When Blacks get emotional... they can't be reasoned with. PERIOD! There can be no intelligent discussion. Being fully aware of that fact, I went against my own best judgment and posted on this story. Big mistake.

See... I'm somewhat of a Geek when it comes to this stuff...and I like to really break things down and analyze things on a rational basis (not the emotional, screaming, kneejerk response type of person.... at least not in this situation).

And this was not even the main post... this was intended to be a preface to another (better) post in a few days.

I was not making a literal point with the post title... but folks foaming at the mouth can't pick up nuance. The point was (and the point that I was going to make in the second post) that the presence and concept of tasers... and the design/shape/use of tasers - which mimics a semi-automatic firearm - may have led to such an unsafe condition that it made it easier for this incident to take place (if in fact it was accidental). This case could be the ultimate argument against the use of these devices as they are currently designed... but again.. that's analytical bull that I enjoy writing about... but that Blacks who are still foaming at the mouth are in no mood to read (and will never understand from their perspective).

Also... This particular police department had begun using tasers just recently.

My problem is.... as a Black person... (and it's why I hate being Black) is that i'm always guilty of trying to think for myself...with my own brain... instead of wanting to go riot every time "The Man" does something that's really screwed up. People pretend to know what the Hell i'm feeling/thinking.