Once upon a time, Americans actually valued life. Hell, we even valued liberty. And the purfoot of happyness.
Legally, that’s still true; in practice, not so much.
The law of the land of the free and the home of the brave has always been that
A police officer who shoots a fleeing suspect without “probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others” violates that suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights.1
But that was when America had a Constitution.
The law of the streets these days is that cops shoot people who don’t do what they’re told.
It doesn’t matter if, as in the case of Frederick Henry, you’re wanted for a misdemeanor violation for failure to pay child support, or if you’re in a group of people trying to sneak into the country illegally, or if you’re just a kid who refuses to wash a police officer’s car.
Rome watching Christians being torn apart in the Colosseum the United States having become increasingly insensitive to the value of human life will likely jump to the defense of the police, stating that if Frederick Henry hadn’t run, or “the illegals” hadn’t tried to sneak into the country, they wouldn’t have been shot.
Because, after all, all evolved citizens of First World countries should endorse the death penalty for disobedience to a police officer, even if the officer has no other reason to kill than that he was dissed. Even if the person shot is a 54-year-old Sunday School teacher who has not been shown to have done anything wrong — other than not do what the officer told her.
If you happen to have a history of non-violent felonies and you try to run? No question! You deserve to have a cop try to load 41 bullets into you until you’re dead.
And in nearly every circumstance where a cop shoots someone dead, the cop’s version of what happened will justify the shooting. Take that story about the 54-year-old Sunday School teacher:
According to Virginia State Police, at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday, Culpeper Police got a call about a suspicious women sitting in a Jeep Wrangler in a church parking lot in the 300 block of North East Street. The officer started talking to Patricia A. Cook, 54, of Culpeper. State police say that for some reason, while the officer was trying to get her identification, Cook “suddenly closed her driver’s side window trapping the officer’s arm and started driving away dragging the officer alongside.”
Police say the officer repeatedly asked her to stop but the car kept going. Then shots were fired, and the Jeep wrecked in the 200 block of North East Street.
For some reason.
We’ll never know the reason, since the cop shot the woman dead. All we know is that “for some reason” she rolled up her car window, trapping the officer, and started dragging him down the street, putting him in fear for his life so that he had no choice but to kill her.
But wait! We’re in luck! There was another witness, besides the officer. Oh, thank goodness! He can corroborate the cop’s story and put our fears to rest!
“He was right next to the vehicle. He had one hand on the door handle and one hand on his weapon. And she was rolling the window up. And they were exiting out of the parkng [sic] lot.
The window was half way up he said ‘stop or I’ll shoot.’ I really didn’t think he was going to do it. But she got the window all the way up and that’s when he shot. And then she took a left out of the parking lot here and he stepped out in the street and fired five more times,” said Buchele.
Buchele says the officer was not dragged and that he shot her before she drove away. He says he didn’t have his arm caught because the officer’s left hand was on the door handle and right hand was holding a weapon. Also, he says he distinctly saw her roll up the window all the way before the officer shot out the glass and killed her.
Damn those witnesses! They’re always screwing up the cop’s carefully constructed stories!
Still, if she hadn’t tried to drive away….
According to the police, this is because they are trained that your life — whoever you are — is not worth much. If there’s even a remote possibility that you’re a threat to them, your life is subject to termination.
[Officer] Bassett said in the sworn statement that he had been trained to put his personal safety above the rights of a citizen openly carrying a handgun.
“We’re told every day, our safety is first,” he said. “We’re here to come home every night.”
I mean, it used to be that cops were there to serve and to protect. Some agencies, like the Fresno Police Department, even have that slogan painted on their cars. So you can see why a 54-year-old Sunday School teacher driving away from a cop would just have to be shot.
But what if there is absolutely no question whatsoever — even the cop knows — that you’re not even remotely a threat to the officer’s life? What if you’re just a 10-year-old boy who thinks he’s being funny by smarting off to a cop?
Well, as one 10-year-old from Tularosa New Mexico Intermediate School can tell you, you only possibly get the death penalty. Because after he smarted off,
[t]he officer responded to the boy’s sarcastic remark by saying, “Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.” He then tasered the boy, who weighs less than 100 pounds, in the chest causing him to black out.
But hey, it was an accident. The cop’s report said so. He also reported to superiors that “the student’s mother told him she was not mad about what happened.”
Because getting shot by the cops — whether by tasers or guns — is just something I’ve come to expect in the United States of Amerika. After all, it’s part of their mission.
To serve and to protect.
- Henry v. Purnell, 652 F.3d 524, 532 (2011), quoting Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 3, 105 S.Ct. 1694, 85 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985). [↩]