Recent coverage and violent reactions to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri set off a firestorm all around the country – claiming that the policeman shot and killed him without provocation. That case is still to be decided if the officer will be charged. Summary of this event, which cost the life of Michael Brown and has the officer under investigation, can be found on Wikipedia.
Another event took place recently in South Carolina where a state trooper, Sean Groubert, stopped a man, Levar Jones, for a seat belt violation, and when he turned to reach into the car to get his license, the policeman shot him. Mr. Jones was not shot for a seat belt violation but for the supposed threat to the officer afterward he was detained.
ABC News reports there is still manhunt going on searching for cop killer, Eric Frein, who gunned down two police officers.
There have been seventy-nine line-of-duty deaths in 2014 across the nation as reported by Officers Down Memorial Page.
ABC reported yesterday this controversial shooting in South Carolina.
Citizens have the right to feel safe in the presence of law enforcement, and police officers don’t seem to feel safe in the presence of citizens these days. The blatant disregard and respect for officers could be the root cause of some of these tragic events – sometimes a citizen is killed or injured and sometimes it is the officer.
We can always play the “what if” game. What if the officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson had not fired at Michael Brown – what would have happened to him?
What if the man in South Carolina was reaching for a gun – what would have happened to the state trooper if he had not drawn his gun? He has been fired, charged, and if found guilty could face up to twenty years in prison for doing what he thought was his job.
What is the real problem with these events? So many citizens think today that they can do as they please and jeopardize others and fail to obey the commands of an officer and put themselves in harm’s way when an officer feels threatened that if he does not act, he will lose his life.
Simple solution – obey the commands of a police officer – stand still – do not make any sudden moves that would be interpreted as a threat. It seems that in the case of Michael Brown he continued to advance toward the officer and the officer claims he was struck by Mr. Brown.
This happens more than we would like to think about it happening and it would appear that it had nothing to do with race; but fear on the part of the officer that his life was being threatened by the failure of citizens to cooperate with the officer. Perhaps Mr. Jones should have told the officer that his license was in his car; and let the officer decide what to do next.
There should be a clear law on how to handle this situation. Citizens who approach or appear to be combatant toward a police officer should be wary of the consequences. Many perpetrators will sometimes appear to be compliant when they are actually planning to reach for a weapon hidden in the back of their belt. Perhaps people could be informed of the correct protocol when applying for or renewing their license or anything transaction with the government.
Laws should be passed so that citizens can comply with the officer in a safe manner and those who serve as law officers should have the peace of mind and assurance of their own safety. If the man in South Carolina had been told to put up his hands or even lie down on the street – and he complied, this would not have happened.
Policemen do not always know what they are dealing with – sometimes when they stop or approach a suspect, they do not know who they are dealing with – many times they already have criminal records – are on the run and are dangerous.
The trooper, Sean Groubert, was arrested Wednesday and charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. If found guilty, and sent to prison, that would be a good alternate for Groubert had Levar Jones been reaching for a weapon. Instead of being in jail, he could have been in the grave.
First of all, Mr. Jones had violated the law by not wearing his seat belt. All of this could have been avoided if he had been. Second of all, the officer did not know what his next move would be and had he not reacted, he could have been killed.
ABC News reported that the officer yelled for him to get out of the car? Did he comply? There should be a way to prevent these types of situations where both the citizens and the policemen are protected. When approached by an officer perhaps, a citizen should stand still and place both hands on their face like the little boy in “Home Alone.”
That would show the officer where his hands were and could have prevented this whole situation; unless the citizen then proceeded to disobey giving the officer cause to fear for his/her own life.
Citizens have rights, but so do law enforcement officers. The ACLU has a booklet which covers the rights of a citizen when being stopped by an officer. A camera cannot always show every detail as can the naked eye; nor human emotions and perceptions.
Know your rights when encountering law enforcement.
The main topics are:
What if law enforcement stops me on the street?
What if law enforcement stops me in my car?
What should I do if law enforcement arrests me?
Do I have to answer questions if I am being arrested?
What if I am being treated badly by law enforcement?
Law Enforcement Bill of Rights as laid down by the Supreme Court….
The web page entitled COPS – Community Oriented Policing Services – explains the rights of an on-duty law enforcement officer. See text below.
Use of Force
“Every day, law enforcement officers face danger while carrying out their responsibilities. When dealing with a dangerous—or unpredictable—situation, police officers, usually, have very little time to assess it and determine the proper response. Here, good training can enable the officer to react properly to the threat or possible threat and respond with the appropriate tactics to address the situation, possibly including some level of force, if necessary, given the circumstances”
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has stated that “…in diffusing situations, apprehending alleged criminals, and protecting themselves and others, officers are legally entitled to use appropriate means, including force.”
The events mentioned in this article will ultimately have to be decided by the courts, but we as citizens need to know ways to prevent these types of incidents from occurring in the first place. Parents should be instructed in ways to teach their children how to be safe in all circumstances and to obey the law, and how to react when approached by a law officer. The responsibility of the citizen is to obey the law. The responsibility of the law officers is to see that the law is enforced.