I don’t know what’s going on exactly with the epidemic of American police assaulting and killing totally innocent people, but one thing has become absolutely clear: this is not just a few bad cops.
Some may cling to the argument that most police officers are just trying to do their jobs, and some may even believe that they protect and serve the public, as they are sworn to do, as they are portrayed on television. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there are NO good cops – but if there are, they are not the ones calling the shots.
What’s happening in Cleveland is clear proof of that. Last November, two police officers answered a 9/11 call, that a man in the park had a gun. They pulled up their car next to the suspect, one cop jumped out and shot the suspect dead. Immediately. There was no time for dialogue, he did not say “Put your hands in the air!” or “Get down on the ground!” or any of the things police say on television. He jumped out of the car and shot.
We know this because there just happened to be cameras in the park and the whole thing was caught on film.
Another thing that everybody can see on the video, quite clearly, is that the suspect was a little boy. His gun was a toy gun. O.K., a beebee gun. It might be enough to wound a pigeon, at close range, but it’s still, essentially, a toy gun.
The officer was never in any danger and any normal adult, whether trained in police methodology or not, would have seen that in about half a second.
Certainly, as Tamir Rice lay on the ground, bleeding to death, they could see he was a little boy. As they restrained his screaming 14 year old sister, they must have noticed they were dealing with children. Even if Tamir Rice had been a full grown, threatening adult, the thing to do at that point would have been to call for an ambulance and try to administer first aid.
That didn’t happen.
If the officer, after the shooting, had said “Oh, my God, I am so sorry, it was a horrible mistake and I am incredibly saddened that I killed a child” it might be possible to get beyond this, but he never said that.
If the Cleveland Police Department had fired him immediately, we might be able to say “He was a bad cop, but the department is trying to do the right thing.” That did not exactly happen.
Now the case is going to trial and the cop has the full backing of the Cleveland Police Officer’s Union, and the Police Department itself. His defense? “Tamir Rice was not the innocent, little child you see on the videotape. He was 5’7″ tall and weighed 190 pounds.”
For my European readers, that means his height was 175 centimeters and he weighed about 86 kilos. Kind of a chubby kid, but not exactly a giant. He might have looked like he was 14 or 15, but he did not look like an adult.
In addition, the police officer has still not expressed even the slightest regret. If he does not get sent to jail, there is something very, very wrong in America.