Sunday, August 24, 2014
My Sunday Feeling
I don't know what happened between that kid and the cop in Ferguson, Missouri a couple of weeks ago. Neither do you.
And I am as pro-law enforcement as they come. I like visiting with cops whenever I get the chance. I had dinner with a prosecutor buddy last week. I have referred any number of bad actors to investigators over my 28 years with Uncle.
So don't get me wrong.
But here are things I don't understand.
I don't understand how an unarmed teenager catches numerous slugs from somebody trained in the use of weapons and supposedly operating under rules of engagement for both aggressive confrontation with a citizen and the use of deadly force.
Look at the picture above.
I get riot gear. I don't get camo. This is Missouri. This is the United States of America. This is not Beirut.
I get cops protecting themselves. I don't get pointing automatic weapons at a person whose hands are in the air. The optics are terrible.
Speaking of optics, if you are scared of black folks, you might find my trainer Dennis to be a pretty scary dude by the first glance. He's built like the former DI defensive back and boxer that he was. He wears his hair in dreadlocks.
He's also former Navy Special Forces and a former Memphis cop. Indeed, he recently interacted with law enforcement when he got pulled over by LRPD for some traffic thing. I asked him how it went.
" I told him that I was a former cop in Memphis, that I have a concealed carry permit and a Glock in the door. And I told him that I wanted to get home that night just as bad as he did."
And that pretty much diffused any potential tension. The officer checked out his paperwork and sent Dennis on his merry way with the admonition to lighten up on the gas pedal.
I asked Dennis what he thought about the police response to the discord in Ferguson.
"You never point a weapon at somebody unless you are 100% ready to kill that person," he said. "You don't point a weapon at somebody who is complying. You never point a weapon at somebody who is just running his mouth. Mouth never killed anybody. In fact, the dude that is running his mouth ain't likely to do anything but that. It's the ones that don't talk that you have to watch. But you don't produce your weapon unless you have reason to and are prepared to put that individual away."
It also makes for bad optics.
Here's another thing I don't get. Ferguson, Missouri has about 20,000 folks there on a good Saturday night.
What possible need do the cops there-or any similar sized police agency- have for military grade equipment? I get the fact that since 9-11 police forces throughout the US have legit concerns about terrorism. However, I sincerely doubt that Shining Path has a sleeper cell in Bryant, Arkansas. I say take the toys away from Barney Fife and give it back to the Feds.
I also don't get elected officials calling for removal of the prosecutor there and convicting the police officer involved in the media. Cool heads need to prevail.
I don't know what happened between that kid and the cop 2 weeks ago. Neither do you.
State and Federal authorities are all over this terrible situation. All we can do is await the answer.
And hope that Mayor Stodola and our new Chief of Police are reviewing the policies and rules of engagement in order to prevent such a tragedy from happening here in Little Rock.