Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Michael Brown: Why wasn't non-lethal force an option?

What bothers me about this incident---along with the larger issues of white police force in a black population, institutional racism in Ferguson that's common nationwide, etc.---is the mindless application of lethal violence by the cop. From the autopsy photo in the video below, Michael Brown was evidently shot eight times by Wilson. That shows that not only is Darren Wilson a terrible shot, but that none of those shots were aimed at Brown's large legs---he was 6' 4" tall and over 250 pounds---which could have disabled him before the lethal shots.

And why not use a taser before you shoot at the guy? If Ferguson cops aren't armed with tasers, they should be. 

Even if, as he claims, Wilson thought Brown wanted to kill him, it seems incredible---and unacceptable---that non-lethal force was never a serious option for Wilson.

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At 11:19 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Guy didn't carry a taser, he did have mace.

Cops are never instructed to shoot in the legs despite people's constant assumption based on movie watching that that's what they do. If a cop grabs his gun, it's because the time for non-lethal force has ended.

Now I certainly wasn't there, and neither were most people talking about the incident. The cops account differs from the eye witnesses account. Both of those accounts are suspect because they both have an interest in the outcome. The only thing that doesn't have an interest is forensic evidence. We also can assume things that are corroborated between the conflicting accounts are likely to be true. Clearly the kid was walking down the middle of the street, clearly there was a command that got ignored, clearly the cop got punched in the face, and clearly there was a gunshot at close range before the multiple that followed.

Now if forensic experts state that the evidence suggests that the close range shot was consistent with a struggle for the weapon which was the cop's, then I'm going to offer that as soon as you go for a cops gun you pretty much have surrendered any guarantees or attempts for non-lethal resolution to the incident. Cop has a right to live, too.

I'll be the first to tell you I don't trust cops, and think that they ought to all be wearing cameras for everyone's safety. But in this case, I think that the whole "unarmed teenager" thing is a narrative that was looking for evidence, a clear example of confirmation bias by the witnesses and everyone else who is weighing in on the situation.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Forensics shows that the struggle over Wilson's gun took place early in the encounter, while he was still in his car. The idea that just by trying to get Wilson's gun means killing Brown was justified is unacceptable, since the shooting death happened after he walked away from Wilson and the car.

In today's NY Times, A Boston cop who served for 35 years questions Wilson's handling of the incident:

“There has been a significant change in the use of force by police in the 35 years I’ve been in the business---new tools like Tasers and reallY effective pepper sprays. When you look at the whole way this situation transpired, it’s disappointing to see someone not use those intermediate tools available.”

Wilson testified that he didn't like to carry his taser because it was big and not "very comfortable"! He didn't have to have it strapped to his belt. Why not just have it available in the car? That shouldn't be an optional accessory.

I agree with the camera idea, as does
Robert Gammon in the East Bay Express.

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

The nanny state has infected people's minds. Its much like pedestrian vs. car accidents where the pedestrian didn't look up from their cell phone while crossing the road and got hit. People ask why the motorist didn't see the pedestrian or stop instead of asking why the pedestrian didn't look both ways like mommy and daddy taught him.

So, when a punk kid punches a cop and tries to grab his gun, people ask why the cop didn't act differently?

No, the pedestrian has to take some responsibility for looking before crossing the road and Michael Brown is responsible for robbing a store, assaulting its owner, punching a cop, and trying to take his gun. The nanny state disease has people asking why didn't everyone else be responsible for the victim when they weren't. Likewise, transit folks now wrongly assert the safety of irresponsible pedestrians and cyclists is the responsibility of motorists. Really twisted logic.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Michael Brown was an immature 18-year-old, and Darren Wilson is supposedly a trained law enforcement professional. No matter how dumb Brown's actions were, his death was avoidable and unacceptable.


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