In the past couple of years, CopBlock has covered a wide range of stories involving police murder. John Williams, a half-deaf, disabled, hobbling Native American man was basically executed in the streets of Seattle by on-duty officer Ian Birk. Birk was never criminally charged. Westpoint and Duke graduate Erik Scott was executed at Costco for no legitimate reasons when police were called to the scene. His killer of course was found to have been “justified” in the murder.
Trevon Cole, an unarmed father-to-be was shot and killed in his bathroom during a mistaken drug raid. Grandfather of 12, Eurie Stamps was similarly unarmed and killed during a botched drug raid. Former Marine Jose Guerena was shot multiple times by police during an alleged drug warrant entry by police. He lay dying for over an hour until he bled to death because police refused medical care. Allen Kephart was tasered to death for honking his car horn at police. Douglas Zerby was shot and killed for holding a garden hose spigot which police purportedly mistook for a gun.
The list goes on and on, but a girl can only maintain so many murder victims’ names in her head before going insane. At any rate, without exception, police involved in these murders were found to have acted reasonably or were determined to have been justified in their murder. Even before they were found to have behaved in a “justified manner,” they were not immediately arrested or charged (or ever arrested or charged).
On the other hand, in recent news, one Officer Dayle Long had the misfortune of murdering someone and actually not getting away with it. Long was drunk at a bar when a bystander ribbed him for not being good at playing darts. Long responded, “That’s why I’m a cop, I can do whatever I want to do.” Things got heated, and Long ended up shooting and killing a third man, Sam Vanettes, who was attempting to break up the fight. Surprisingly, Long was actually arrested and held on $1 million bail. This is a good thing. Barely, though (yay! A cop was actually treated like a normal person, for once!)
Long had one part right. Police pretty much can do what they please. They get away with murder with much more success than ordinary people. They certainly get away with more innocuous violations they engage in almost daily, such as driving while talking on cell phones (illegal in California, apparently except for the police), parking in red zones, parking in handicapped zones, speeding, jaywalking, etc.
The part Long failed to take into consideration is that the key to this distinction is the badge and the uniform. People don’t care about murder when it is committed by police in uniform. The response is usually, “well then [the victim] shouldn’t have disobeyed/talked back/drank alcohol/[insert petty violation here].” People most definitely don’t care when police in uniform break traffic laws, because of course police are just “doing their jobs” and “keeping people safe” by speeding, parking in fire lanes, and talking on their cell phones while driving. But when the uniform comes off, to a certain extent, they are viewed once again as regular old losers like the rest of us.
Regular old losers can’t jay walk, speed, or murder with impunity. You have to have a uniform and a badge to do that. Long’s mistake wasn’t murder; his mistake was committing murder out of uniform. And as a side note to all you regular old losers out there, regardless of uniform, never honk your car horn at a cop or challenge his dart skills – someone could end up dead.