I don't know enough about the situation, and I can envision a situation where the system is awful _and_ an individual is also more awful than the system necessitates. But your reading sounds scarily reasonable.
And the system clearly needs to be fixed. If nothing else, when the system is better it will mean that bad cops will stand out more and be spotted before they do as much harm.
Coming from a conservative state, I saw quite a few Facebook posts support the decision. Blah blah blah, blame bad parenting, blah blah blah. It's odd, to say the least.
Fixing the system requires empathy, which seems like a characteristic we've lost as a nation. We need to fix what's broken, but I'm not sure of a solution that won't be botched/co-opted/ignored by our lawmakers.
Unfortunately, all we can do is wait for the next incident to come to light.
I saw something on Facebook a couple weeks back, contrasting articles about two mothers: the white mother of someone who shot people, and a black mother whose son was shot by police. The comments on the article about the white mother expressed sympathy for what she was going through. The comments on the article about the black mother were filled with snide remarks about her parenting. Even though the white man was a perpetrator and the black one a victim, the white man got sympathy. It was boggling.
I wish I had been able to bookmark the piece, but Facebook did one of its page refreshes that made it disappear and I couldn't find it again.
Apparently, the issue started with the 911 operator who failed to tell the officers that the person(s) who called in the report suspected that the gun was probably fake
That one piece of information never reached the officers ears and since 911 communications are recorded, it was proven that was the case, and added to the series of events that lead to the tragedy. You are correct however. Training has to be altered. The whole idea of how we react has to be altered, and I say this living not far from an area where it's kids killing kids on a regular basis. (Yeah, don't hear much about that, would be bad publicity for the 25th most expensive place to live in the USA. Also why the gentrification of this entire county is being pushed... sooooo freakin' hard.)
2015-12-29 05:43 pm (UTC)
Re: According to one report
The caller's qualifying remarks were not conveyed to the officers. Still, they made the decision to approach within mere feet of the boy, putting themselves into the imminent danger they felt. That's just bad police work.
At the risk of sounding like a plaintiff's attorney, wouldn't holding the individual officers personally responsible for this sort of tragedy be a pretty effective way of putting pressure on the system to change?
I mean, you're right that this is a systemic problem and all, but without consequences, what's the motivation to change? (Cf. the financial system after the stunning lack of prosecutions for theft through obfuscation.)
I would have preferred that. A full trial would have been a better platform to discuss the issues. I'm just saying that I understand why it didn't happen.
Oh, I didn't mean to imply you were wrong about that. Again, not to sound all lawyery, but holding an individual criminally responsible for following the rules as laid out might actually break the due process clause, the ex post facto clause, and probably half a dozen others.
I was thinking this, too. Until/unless systemic change occurs, putting pressure on officers to really think about the consequences of what they're doing - and the potential racial biases of their training and their perception of situations - might be the only thing that can be done to effect positive change. But yes, the problem goes a lot deeper than any one officer, or even a handful of officers.
My other concern is that, by going 'there was nothing wrong with how these officers behaved', the message is being sent that their shooting a twelve-year-old boy dead for playing with a toy gun was right. The nuance of the message - namely, 'these officers correctly followed training, procedure and their understanding of the situation, but their training, the procedure, and their understanding were all completely wrong' - will not reach the ears of a lot of people. They'll just hear 'the officers were right' and continue blaming a child for his own tragic, avoidable death that had nothing to do with him and everything to do with the racial climate of this country and its law enforcement in particular.
I can't blame the jury; having sat on one myself, I know that the emphasis is on deciding rulings based on the letter of the law as it's currently written, and I doubt the officer(s) were in violation as a jury would see it. They, like the officers responding to the call about Tamir, followed procedure. But, much like the officers, I don't feel that the result of their following procedures - however correctly - was anything resembling justice.
Although the judge probably instructed you otherwise, jury nullification is still a thing. However, it works a lot better when acquitting than when convicting, since a conviction can be appealed (or even get an immediate judgment NOV), whereas an acquittal is locked in due to double jeopardy.
Another factor in this is the severe risk aversion that we as a country now suffer. Police deaths are at an all time low, and yet there is the ongoing perception that any encounter with a POC is likely to end in violence against the officer. Just like any child playing without adult supervision is only moments away from being kidnapped, so a parent allowing a child to go to the park just down the street is subject to arrest for neglect. Both these viewpoints are erroneous, but our inability to evaluate actual risk is so damaged now that absurd decisions are made almost daily.
2015-12-29 06:12 pm (UTC)
Re: You've nailed it
Please link it from my Living Graciously Wordpress, which is linked on my Facebook page.
The one small thing that I can do is talk to the cousins in my family who are or are training to be in law enforcement. And challenge them to be mindful of how broken the system is, to challenge their own prejudice. When I got my uncle's Christmas letter saying that his grandson is starting training, I made up my mind that I have to do at least that much.
reading that *one* sentence made me sick.
it makes it no less RIGHT. and that's the huge elephant in the living room, that people keep ignoring as the room fills with elephant shit. and in the case of the US, dead black young men.
usually. sometimes it's black people of any age and gender.
I'm curious to get your opinion from a legal POV.
I often think that one of the issues is that (on purpose or not) these crimes are either charged incorrectly and/or the wrong people are charged with the crime. I think the main reason for the exoneration was that they showed the gun Rice had and a real gun side by side and I can see where it would legitimately be tough to tell them apart*.
It's not clear to me why the dispatcher wasn't charged. S/He left out a crucial piece of information that, was it not omitted, might have resulted in a very different outcome.
Do you think the dispatcher should have been held culpable? https://goo.gl/photos/YFH6JicGaYRGvGiY9
* I *not* saying that there isn't a systematic issue. I have a teen age nephew and it's scary to me that if here's in the wrong place, facing the wrong person he could be injured or killed because ssomeone felt "their lives were in danger". I'm talking specifcally bout the Tamir Rice
The biggest problem is that the prosecutor went into the grand jury determined NOT to get an indictment. His presentation was sloppy and omitted a number of issues.
The officers put themselves into perceived imminent danger. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. The dispatcher's omission made things worse, but I don't think it's an error that is prosecutable.
Ah, but, as you know, the Grand Jury system is not designed to get to the truth, but merely to confirm that the prosecutor has adequate evidence to hold someone over for trial. Which presupposes that the prosecutor is trying to get that confirmation.
The system should have an independent prosecutor for police defendants, given the regular interaction between the ordinary prosecutor and the police.