Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cops: Too Crazy to be Trusted With Guns

by

We’re not supposed to question juries. They’re our peers. They put in long hours, working hard essentially for free. Most of all, they see all the evidence. We don’t. We have to assume that they know what they’re doing.

Sometimes, however, a jury verdict relies on so many false assumptions, baseless assignments of privilege and twisted logic that you have to call it out. The decision of a Cleveland grand jury not to indict the cop who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice to death is one such time.

Tamir Rice was playing outside his apartment building with a toy gun when a nosy neighbor took it upon himself to do the one thing you should never do in America unless you’re absolutely certain there is no other option: call the police. Tamir, the caller told 911, was “probably a juvenile” and that the gun was “probably fake.” According to Cleveland police, 911 dispatch didn’t relay that information to the two officers who responded, amped up and loaded for bear.

Officer Timothy Loehmann blew Tamir away between 1.5 and 2.0 seconds after arriving at the scene.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty called Tamir’s killing the result of a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications.”

Stuff happens. (Let’s hope the moron who called 911 is happy.)

I don’t need to have been a fly on the wall in the grand jury room to conclude they made a bad call.

First: what’s with this ridiculous assumption that, if a cop fears for his life, he is justified in instantly escalating the use of violent force to the nuclear option — firing his semiautomatic pistol into an American citizen?

McGinty, who made it abundantly clear he didn’t anyone indicted, told a press conference that Loehmann feared for his life. So what if he did? Fearing for your life comes with the job, a job that requires common sense and sharp instincts to do well. Like, take a little time to assess a situation before speeding your cruiser up to a possible suspect and popping him faster than it takes to read half this sentence.

Second, whether or not the dispatcher passed on the info that Tamir was probably a kid with a probably fake gun is irrelevant. Who cares what a random nobody who calls 911 says?

There’s a phenomenon called “SWATting,” in which pranksters (often gamers) call 911 hoping that a heavily-armed paramilitary force descends on an address and freaks out the inhabitants, or perhaps kills them. Callers can understate a threat as well. What if Tamir Rice’s gun was real, and he wasn’t a kid, and dispatch had failed to forward that information along to the officers? Big duh here: cops need to use their brains to figure out what, if anything, is actually happening at the scene when they respond.

Third, Cleveland’s ersatz prosecutors made an awful lot of their assertion that Tamir was “big for his age” and looked older than 12. This is important because, how many 12-year-old boys go on shooting sprees? It can happen. But’s it’s rare. After I read this Tamir the Giant argument, I looked at his recent photos and was puzzled. He looks exactly like a 12-year-old kid. On the bigger side, sure. But 12. Why did Officer Loehmann think he was older?

Well, his highly abbreviated assessment time — about 1.75 seconds between screeching to a halt and unloading his service pistol — may have had something to do with it.

Also, studies have shown that white cops tend to radically overguesstimate the age of black males. “Black 13-year-olds were miscategorized as adults by police officers (average age error 4.59 years),” according to The Washington Post. Yet another argument in favor of insisting that urban cops live in the communities that pay their salaries — they’ll learn what black kids look like.

Nothing can bring back Tamir. But we can learn from his murder. We can take back the assumptions that killed him and countless other young black men.

From The New York Times: “Even with indictments, juries will remain reluctant to convict police officers absent evidence of malice, said Eugene O’Donnell, a former officer and prosecutor who now teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. ‘Tremendous incompetence, the worst kind of training, disregard for people is really not enough,’ he said. ‘You’re going to have to go beyond that because the police are different.'”

Or we can decide that really, the police are not different. That cop lives do not matter more than civilian lives. That cops won’t enjoy the benefit of the doubt any more than the rest of us. That prosecutors will work just as hard to indict them as they do to indict someone of shooting a cop.

Cop privilege must die.

Which means no more acceptance of ridiculous excuses (“no one told me he was a kid”) for crazy behavior (shooting someone less than two seconds after sizing them up).

Congress is considering making it impossible for mentally ill people to buy guns. Until our cops become sane, they shouldn’t be trusted with weapons. (By the way, Officer Loehmann’s psychological profile indicates he wasn’t all there when Cleveland PD hired him.) Taking away sidearms and Tasers, given how well unarmed police forces work all over the world, is something the United States should seriously consider.

Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]