It was just over a year ago, in April, when the Quad Cities experienced an incident that created considerable controversy. The event was when a local police officer had to use deadly force during a police investigation. The local Internet was all a buzz as friends of the young man that was killed and defenders of the police sparred in a several month long verbal exchange of accusations. On this Friday, 07/31/09, we had a similar situation where another young man was killed while resisting arrest. Unlike the previous incident, this time we had the benefit of a camera recording much of the altercation. Still we have a lot of people on the Internet, similar to last year’s event, already arguing over the outcome of the incident.
I watched the confrontation of the officers and the suspect video, which was posted on the QC Online website. And quite frankly, I was surprised the officer allowed the individual to get as close as he did. He repeatedly warned the individual, yet the suspect continued to close distance in a potentially threatening manner, between himself and the officer. And the suspect’s intentions seemed definitely hostile when he charged the officer. At that point the altercation leaves the range of the video camera. The fight is described as violent and ended with the suspect’s death. Since I can only make my analysis based on the information available my views of the event can alter. From what I have read and what I have saw of the altercation, my analysis to this point is, the only criticism I have of the officer is that he should have used the Taser on the suspect earlier. That opinion could alter either way depending upon further release of information. I do feel that the officer was being too easy on the suspect, early in the altercation. Perhaps if he had used the Taser earlier, he could have gotten both shots off and stopped the individual before the incident worsened. Of course maybe not either, we will never know. I have read several comments that suggest the individual was schizophrenic, so the Taser might not have been able to stop him no matter when it was used. Whichever the case, after the suspect got close enough he was capable of violently attacking the officer, my opinion is, the officer was in his rights to use lethal force to protect his own life. Nor do I think along the lines of many of the Internet police bashers that the officer should have shot to wound. That is not feasible or even a good design. The suspect survived a Taser shot and kept attacking the officer. Injuring the suspect does not guaranty stopping the suspect from maiming, overpowering and/or killing the officer. At that point the officers only option was shoot to kill. It is an option that will probably create nightmares for both the officer and the young mans family for sometime. And as we saw with the escalation during last year’s tragedy, it does not help when the Internet buzz become unsympathetic to the grief that either side of the conflict must endure until the event becomes another tragic event of history. Should both sides not discuss the event? No, that will not help matter either. All sides should feel free to discus the event – but all sides should refrain from using hateful attacks on the other parties. A young man, using bad judgment, lost his life in a tragic event and a police officer, feeling threatened, felt compelled to use deadly force to defend himself. The public needs to let those people do their jobs that investigate these incidents before things scale out of proportion as they did in last year’s episode. The public should let the family grieve and the officer to heal and do not compound the situation by tossing around unfounded or false allegations and/or cruel dialogue towards either party. And that way maybe we can avoid the same endless and unconstructive verbal altercations we have went through previously. Or maybe not. Or maybe Obama needs to hold a beer summit in the Quad Cities.
Or maybe everyone could just slowdown the rhetoric while they wait and listen for the total information to unfold. Oops sorry, just wishful thinking on my behalf.
the Dispatch/Argus/QC Online link.
the Quad City Times link.