Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Plea to Police Officers

So, often when you hear the right talk about Muslims in relation to terrorism, they state that their biggest problem is that "Moderate Muslims" are not standing up. "Moderate Muslims" are not letting their voices be heard, "Moderate Muslims" are letting a few rogue members of their faith warp the public's perception. In that same vein I ask, in the wake of the Oscar Grant murder and the subsequent slap on the wrist for former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle, where are the voices of the Righteous Police Officers? Johannes Mehserle shot, and killed a detained, unarmed man from point blank range, and he will be eligible for release in less than 7 months. Where are the Moderate police officers? Where are their voices, their cries of outrage?

Now before we go on, this is not an anti-cop rant. I do not believe all cops are bad, or all cops are racists, anymore than I believe that all black people like watermelon, or anymore than I believe that all Muslims are terrorists. In effort to promote full disclosure, my family bleeds blue. I have cousins, friends and fraternity brothers "on the job". My father was a state trooper murdered in the line of duty. My godfather was a police officer in Detroit, I empathize with and understand the plight of  Police Officers. Which is why rogue cops enrage me, which is why racist cops drive me insane. These felons in cops clothing make it harder on the rest of the law abiding, upstanding officers who are trying to Serve and Protect.

But for you officers out there on the fence, hiding behind the shield, know this. When your voices are not heard, you make communities believe the worst. When your cries of outrage are non-existent, a community  turns it back and looses hope. When the price of a black man's life is 7 months in jail, a community start to do the math. They add things up and realize that Plaxico Buress got more time for shooting himself, that Micheal Vick got more time for killing dogs. To the moderate police officers, this Johannes Mehserle is not one of you, he perverts your teachings, he does violence in your name, he cloaks himself in symbols and murders the innocent. Yeah, he knows your language, and goes where you gather, but he is not one of you, he and his kind are extremists, and when you do not speak against him, you make communities believe he is the norm, he is the constant, he is the control, and the rest of us are the experiment. It is times like these when the "big blue wall of silence" and the "stop snitching" campaign seem to be different sides of the same coin.

Oscar Grant was shot in the back, while detained and he was unarmed. The convicted criminal Johannes Mehserle will probably get about 7 months in jail. A mother has lost her son, a daughter has lost her father, a community has lost it's faith. And your voices, the voices that could help convince us that this man was indeed a rogue; Your voices, the voices that could show us that you understand our anger, Your voices, the voices that could help us see you are indeed here to Serve and Protect, are quiet. And your silence is DEAFENING.


  1. So I saw the all the different videos and was really disgusted. I showed the many different angles to some of the people in my department, and for the most part we agreed that it was an accident. However, the fact that he is trained in the use of a firearm and is paid by the state to use the firearm properly means he should be held to a higher standard than the average citizen. Additionally, he should have been able to tell the difference in the weight of a pistol and a tazer. While muscle memory and reaction may have played a part in the firing of the weapon he should have never went with the defense that he thought it was his tazer.

    Worst than that, the jury shouldn't have let him be able to get off with such a weak sentence, from such a ridiculous defense!

    Look...Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg...

    How are we going to say that the life of Grant was worth less than Plaxico shooting HIMSELF?!?!

    I'm not saying the the officer should get the death penalty. But I would've expected no less than 5 years.

  2. the judge actually reduced the sentence. The jury had included in their sentencing that this was a crime that was "gun related" which would of added a mandatory sentencing guideline. The judge threw it out. The difference in the the weight of the tazer and the gun is one of the main reasons I do not believe this was an accident, that, and the fact that he had his tazer and gun holstered on different sides of his body. it is incomprehensible that he accidentally pulled from the wrong side of his body, while not realizing the big difference in weight between a loaded handgun and a tazer.

  3. If you look at the video there is no doubt that the shooting was an accident. The cause of the accident is debatable. Its possible that he confused it for his taser as he claimed or he may have drawn his service weapon to provide cover and fired by accident because he had his finger on the trigger. It appears to me that he was scared and over whelmed by what was occurring. The only charge that could have been rendered by the jury is involuntary manslaughter. Their choices were 2nd Degree Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, Involuntary Manslaughter or acquittal.

    There are a few documented cases of officers mistaking their service weapons for a Tazer. Perhaps it was a design flaw to make it resemble a pistol. The weight difference is not that great between a Tazer and a Glock pistol. Both a fairly light and made from a polymer.

    Burres was not convicted for shooting himself, he was convicted on illegal firearms possession, and he was allowed to plea to a lesser charge.

    Oscar Grants family will no doubt receive the justice they deserve during the civil trial. There is no way BART can escape responsibility for his death. Merschele should have not been on patrol he was ill equipped to handle the stress of the situation. Proper training would have either prepared him to handle the stress or weeded him out. Either way he should not have been on patrol that day in the condition he was. BART is responsible for what happened they should have ensured that he was properly trained and supervised.

    I do agree that the death of Oscar Grant was tragic and should have never happened. His family will be in my prayers.

  4. Yeah, that was definitely something we discussed as a department. The reason that an officer places their tazer on the other side of their body is because when you are in fight or flight you are only moving off of reaction.

    I really do find it hard to believe he thought it was his tazer. However, while I do believe he pulled his weapon out on purpose I believe he fired on accident.

    If you watch the videos, he seemed to pull his weapon out intentionally. I believe that was a show of force. Logically he would have known that if he said this he would be out of line, as drawing his weapon in this situation was inappropriate.

    Never the less, that judge should be tried for crimes against humanity.

  5. One thing I wanted to specifically address in transit cops post, and hopefully they can further explain.

    "Burres was not convicted for shooting himself, he was convicted on illegal firearms possession, and he was allowed to plea to a lesser charge."

    Are you then saying that an illegal firearms possession charge is worth more time for incarceration than involuntary manslaughter?

    Or to put it another way, possessing something illegal which can potentially cause a loss of life deserves a heavier sentence than actually taking someones life by accident?

    I guess I'm just trying to understand what a man's life is actually worth in the pecking order of crimes.

  6. The videos available aren't clear enough to determine if the use of a Taser was justified and I'm not sure it would have been necessary given the level of resistance I can see.

    I do find it difficult to confuse a hefty SIG Sauer P226 with a Taser X26. (I'm issued a similarly weighted P220) A Glock maybe...but a SIG...

    Difficult to believe, but not implausible...

    What is clear is that the life of a black man is worth less than that of a dog and that the sentence Mehserle was given is a mockery of justice. Hopefully justice is served through the civil process and the US DOJ.

  7. "Are you then saying that an illegal firearms possession charge is worth more time for incarceration than involuntary manslaughter?"

    I'm not saying that all. In my opinion the involuntary manslaughter should warrant a more severe sentence. But you cant compare those cases as they occurred in different states. The Judge in the Burress case had no choice in the length of the sentence under NY law. The Judge Mehserle case apparently did not have mandatory guidelines to follow.

    In NY people got tired of Judges letting offenders walk on gun charges and pushed for the mandatory sentences perhaps its time for the people of CA to do the same for involuntary manslaughter.

    Is Mershele's sentence longer or shorter than others that have been convicted on involuntary manslaughter in CA?

    I'm confident the civil process will bring justice.