No justice, just politics as usual |

No justice, just politics as usual

When it was all said and done, the jury made the decision everyone knew it would. On trial for the alleged murder of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo, four New York City policeman were acquitted of any wrong doing. The jury chose not to punish them at all, ignoring the option of convicting them of several lesser offenses, one of which (negligent homicide) would have done no more to the officers than give them five years of probation.

The officers shot and killed Diallo on the stoop in front of his Bronx apartment building, gunning him down for little more than being black in a bad neighborhood.

Sure he removed his wallet from his pants in a manner anyone would find threatening – simply lifting it out with one hand – but how could anyone justify firing 41 shots at him. Four of New York’s finest were on the scene, more than enough to handle the threat of a single individual. Yet when Diallo made the move for his wallet, these four officers opened fire like they were in a war zone, battling militant rebels for control of a battered city. Two of the officers fired 16 shots – the full capacity the weapons would carry. 19 of the 41 shots fired hit their target, and that suggest two things. One, the New York City Police Department may want to retrain their officers in fire arms usage, as less than 47 percent of the shots hit their target. Thankfully, no innocent bystanders – except Diallo himself – were harmed. Two, the officers drastically and fatally overreacted to the situation. Scared and frightened by a seeming battalion of cops descending upon him, Diallo did what he thought they were asking of him. He reached for his wallet to retrieve his driver’s license, or visa, or I.D. card, or some other entirely harmless method of identifying who he was. In a way, it’s somewhat ironic. He was killed while trying to show the officers who he was, and because of those four tigger-happy officers, Diallo won’t soon be forgotten.

During the trial a medical examiner testified Diallo took a bullet in the foot. More specifically, the bullet entered through the bottom of Diallo’s shoe and exited through the top of one of his toes.

”You couldn’t be upright to sustain (the toe wound), unless someone was underneath the floor shooting upward,” the examiner said. So it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the police fired at least one shot at Diallo when he was already on the ground.

Closer to home, transient William Anthony Miller was shot and killed by San Diego police Feb. 8 after hitting a few pedestrians with a stick. That’s right, a stick.

Miller allegedly hit two people with the 3-foot tree branch, weapon of mass destruction that it is, and threatened two others outside a fast-food restaurant. A threat to the immediate safety of each and every one of San Diego’s 1.2 million citizens, the transient had to be taken down. We all know how dangerous a man with a stick can be.

Five of San Diego’s finest responded to the threat, and three of them opened fire when Miller turned to face them with his imposing weapon. Miller was shot 12 times, which means one or more of the officers fired multiple shots. At a homeless man approaching them with a stick.

Police across the country have a usually thankless job, protecting us all from the bad people out there, trying to keep the streets safe for everyone. And when they screw up, the public tends to be unforgiving. But the public should be unforgiving. Yes, cops are people too, but they are entrusted with everyone’s safekeeping, including criminals. And while no one is perfect, even flawed people should never make the mistake of shooting a man armed with a wallet, or a man running around with a stick.

“Using morgue photos and testifying in sometimes gruesome detail,” an AP story said, the medical examiner showed jurors how 19 bullets crisscrossed Diallo’s body from chest to toe. A just punishment for being black and standing in front of your home in the Bronx, or being homeless and hitting someone with a stick.

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