Two sides of the story, only one being heard

December 16, 2014

done2The news headline tomorrow could read “Teen killed by cop in south Stockton” and we would all believe it. We would naturally side with the son/daughter, brother/sister, student or teen whose life was taken because of a “victimless” crime. We would condemn the police officer for drawing from his waist the shiny modern version of the excalibur sword that is supposed to mean power and respect. We would later all light candles at a possible stranger’s vigil, hug the mother who lost her child, and shed tears for the poor kid, for it wasn’t his fault he died by the hand of the law… then we’d riot.

Yet sometimes a punishment is too extreme. Selling cigarettes tax free is almost certainly not worth the death penalty like Eric Garner, who in July was killed by a New York officer, famously known now for saying “I can’t breathe” as his last words. And stealing from a mini-mart should not get the Ferguson, Missouri boy Michael Brown shot by law enforcement.

Sometimes the cop isn’t corrupt. After responding to a shooting in Stockton this past June, an officer died, according to Fox 40 news, after crashing due to gunfire at the police vehicle. Where were the demonstrations? Where was the outrage?

We are so quick to jump to the defense of a citizen, but we must be convinced by some horrific story to feel sympathy for a fallen officer.

The same officer who puts his life on the line every time he responds to a 911 call and then after his shift ends goes home to a family, just like everyone else does. The officer who takes an oath to protect the people, who pulls the legendary sword from the stone and uses it to enforce the laws in his designated county, who responds to our 911 calls in the first place.

When we call, we expect someone to show up and handle a situation we can’t, which implies that cops have to be fearless.

According to Forbes magazine, three in 33 children said they wanted to be a police officer, but not just anyone can be rewarded the bulletproof vest and badge that we all quickly reach to call when the time arises.

When a woman dialed the phone to report 12-year-old Tamir Rice waving a “possibly fake” gun that scared her, she didn’t think it was the police officers that she would be scared of, since Rice was shot dead seconds after they exited their vehicles. After he already drew his last breath — not a weapon — it was discovered that it was in fact a toy gun. Tamir Rice lost his life for playing cowboys and indians, for being a kid, for being a black kid, for being a black kid with a gun, for being a black kid with a fake gun… wait. Why was he killed, exactly?

We expected the kid to be reprimanded, not killed, as he played in a community park. We expected the mighty sword to be stowed away in its sheath as the situation was handled according to the normal process of approaching a suspect, not to be retracted on impulse and cast upon the nearest target.

When responding to a theft call involving Brown, we didn’t expect the target to lie there for the public to see like a public lynching from the 19th century. He stole from a mini-mart, a crime punishable with some time behind bars, not one where the sword wielder acts as the jury, and his hand the prosecutor.

Because of these tragic deaths by the hands of the law, we say all enforcers are “corrupt,” we refuse to cooperate as witnesses, and we escalate the situation ourselves. The fault is not entirely the officer’s, it is the suspect’s, too.

Yet, there are many people protesting in the streets, blocking highways five states over, outrageously rioting and getting air time on TV because “police brutality is greater than ever.”

In reality, there have been three recent headline-grabbing cases that people are using as evidence. That means four cops fall into the category of being brutal.
With more and more videos that have been released, there is reason to start worrying, but is there really enough to push for anarchy?

The sad part is, we could really see that headline tomorrow — “Teen killed by cop in south Stockton,” and we would damn the sword for having been pulled from the sheath. Then again… who dialed 911?

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