Michael Brown was 18 years old, black and unarmed when a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot him to death after a scuffle in the street. The incident has provoked ongoing mass protests, vandalism, and national calls for an independent investigation and higher standards of police accountability.

The police, citing death threats, have refused to release the name of the police officer who shot Brown. The hacker collective Anonymous has promised to discover and make public the officer's identity anyway. I suspect they will succeed (if they haven't already).

General questions for those who have followed this story:

Do you think the shooting was reasonable under the circumstances?
How do you feel about the police?
Do you trust the police? Why or why not?
Who do the police answer to? Who ought the police answer to?
Are police held too accountable, properly accountable or not accountable enough for their actions?

Tags: Brown, Michael, Police

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@Gregg: No doubt. It's like I said I ride a motorcycle and I'm exposed to some of the biggest assholes on the planet in cars. In a battle between a bike and a car the car always wins. So when a guy cuts me off I bite my lip and go about my business.

Sort of like Dirty Harry said: "Man's got to know his limitations."

Unseen you seem to have no problem making extreme generalizations about some countries and some issues (of which you have zero personal experience) but get very indignant when one does so on US or on issues you care about. And then you insinuate that these personal comments are based on watching youtube videos when, in fact, it was stated that it was based on personal experience. Black teapot.

Unseen doesn't take unwarranted criticism of his homeland lying down, which is completely acceptable. I'll certainly do the same thing for my homeland. I have attempted to provide specifics underpinning my criticism, which Unseen will add to his larder of impressions, or not. 

What specific countries are you talking about? You know, the ones I've made "extreme generalizations" about?

And aren't you the guy who wants anyone who disagrees with you to refrain from having any firm opinions?

Your never ending tirade about Palestinians and Israeli's for start. You make extreme blanket generalizations about them every day on this site. And yet you are indignant when someone conveys their personal experience in your own country.

Your never ending tirade about Palestinians and Israeli's for start.

So, when someone disagrees with you, it's a "tirade." And did you actually look up the word "tirade" in the dictionary before you decided it carried the exact meaning you wanted?

You make extreme blanket generalizations about them every day on this site. And yet you are indignant when someone conveys their personal experience in your own country.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a generalization. Did you look that one up, either? And I'm not sure what calling a generalization a "blanket generalization" adds to the concept of a generalization, since generalizations are inherently general.

I have never denied that anyone had the experiences they said they had, have I? I haven't even been indignant, though I am wondering if you looked that one up, either. I have only said that their experiences either (a) are not typical generally or (b) may be the way it is where they were since policing is local in the US, and that my experiences have been mostly positive. That doesn't fit with being indignant.

I think you're just a bit given to hyperbole, thinking that overstating a case might go some way to proving it.

This is true-where I live, they have implemented the body cameras just recently. This is a very safe town, and yet, if you get pulled over for speeding, the Sheriff's dept. are particularly menacing-however, the City Police here are somewhat Mayberry like in their friendliness-they rarely have to deal with much. 

That being said, I recall the newscaster saying the officer "sustained injuries" in the altercation with Brown...if this is true, there had to be some sort of scuffle or something, and then Brown was attempting to flee the vehicle, apparently...we know that Brown was thuggish enough to rob a store and push the clerk, if that was him in the video. There are so many cases of clear police brutality worse than this one, where the "perp" was not even the guy they were looking to apprehend-why is this getting so much attention, I wonder?

The case against the officer is slowly collapsing, what with wildly conflicting stories from "witnesses," apparent injury to the officer, and bullet wounds inflicted mostly to the front of the body. Hardly the execution-style murder it's made out to be by so many on the streets of Ferguson.

Even more disconcerting is a kind of reverse lynch mob mentality that's developed where the officer's is presumed guilty and the crowd won't be satisfied unless the officer is sent to prison. I don't even think a lot of them care if he's actually innocent. They are just tired of black men being shot dead. And I can understand that.

The case against the officer is slowly collapsing...

Maybe but I don't think so. I think the case is just starting. See the details below. 

I don't think anything short of videotape showing Wilson killing Brown with his hands up would be enough to see Wilson serve any jail time. I think he'll walk either way.

...what with wildly conflicting stories from "witnesses,"

Dorian Johnson, Piaget Crenshaw, Tiffany Mitchell, Michael Brady, Emmanuel Freeman and James McKnight are the only identified witnesses I'm aware of who claim they saw the shooting.

Most say Wilson and Brown struggled first, then Brown ran. All six say Wilson shot Brown while he was running away and/or had stopped and put his hands up. McKnight alone said he saw Brown "stumble toward the officer, but not rush at him" after he turned and put his hands up.

Do you know of any other witnesses who have come forward with specific accounts that conflict with that?

I've seen at least one newspaper article saying a St. Louis area reporter has unnamed Ferguson police sources claiming "a dozen" unnamed witnesses say Brown attacked Wilson in his car prior to the shooting. If true, that doesn't necessarily conflict with the accounts of the named witnesses so much as corroborate that a struggle occurred in the police car at the outset.

...apparent injury to the officer...

Most of the witnesses claim they saw indications of a physical struggle before Brown ran, although the police still haven't released photos or a detailed description of Wilson's injury. Maybe Brown punched Wilson in the head or face. That would certainly make Wilson more sympathetic in the eyes of a jury.

But would it satisfy the legal requirement for using deadly force in Missouri if Brown subsequently ran and then turned around with his hands up? Deadly force is only allowed if the suspect is reasonably about to cause serious physical harm, not if he has very recently caused serious physical harm.

...and bullet wounds inflicted mostly to the front of the body.

Maybe. One bullet may have entered Brown while his back was turned or his hands were up, in the opinions of a private forensic pathologist and the New York City chief medical examiner.

To date there have been two autopsies, one by the aforementioned and one by St. Louis County medical examiner Mary Case. All Case will say is that Brown died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest. No other information has been released except the opinion of an unnamed person in St. Louis County who says Brown was shot from the front. 

The USDOJ is going to do a third autopsy. Let's see how that one turns out.

------------------------

"Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells, who assisted former New York City chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden during the private autopsy, said a bullet grazed Brown's right arm. He said the teen may have had his back to the shooter, or he could have been facing the shooter with his hands above his head or in a defensive position. "We don't know," Parcells said. "We still have to look at the other (elements) of this investigation before we start piecing things together." (Source)

"Michael Brown was shot in the head and chest multiple times, according to Mary Case, the St. Louis County medical examiner. While Case declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation into Brown’s death, another person familiar with the county’s investigation told The Washington Post that Brown had between six and eight gunshot wounds and was shot from the front." (Source)

Most say Wilson and Brown struggled first, then Brown ran. All six say Wilson shot Brown while he was running away and/or had stopped and put his hands up. McKnight alone said he saw Brown "stumble toward the officer, but not rush at him" after he turned and put his hands up.

He doesn't have to rush the officer to justify the shooting, he just has to move toward the officer contrary to the officer's orders for it to be counted as an attack.  Brown weighed a shade below 300 lb and was 6'4" tall. The officer from the images I've seen is much more normal in build, probably in the neighborhood of 200 lb. Brown's body alone counts as a lethal weapon viewed in that context.

On CNN earlier today, I heard one of the country's top attorneys, also a law professor, saying that the more interviews these witnesses give, the more there will be discrepancies that will tear any prosecution apart. He said that the local prosecutor SHOULD have interviewed the witnesses right away and instructed them that if they wanted to convict the officer to keep their mouths shut and not be giving TV interviews. Now, perhaps the prosecutor is doing that intentionally, if he doesn't want to see the officer go to prison, but that's what's happening.

A criminal conviction has to meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" burden of proof. There's no video. There's enough discrepancies between witnesses' prior statements and the facts (e.g., autopsy results) to create reasonable doubt. There are also instances of "witnesses" modifying their accounts a bit to conform with facts as they emerge, which hints at the possibility there may be some witness collusion.

Barring a video turning up or some other miracle, I'm not even sure Officer Wilson will have to step into a courtroom. The Feds may feel a need to go through the motions, but not even they can pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Regardless of whether a criminal case is filed, there will be a civil case filed that will be settled out of court.

Do you think the shooting was reasonable under the circumstances?
Unless shooting someone, who is wounded, stops running, turns around with his hands up, and pretty much gives up is justified I'm a monkey's uncle .

How do you feel about the police?
Don't trust the majority. Although have run into some really nice cops.

Do you trust the police? Why or why not?
Read above.

Who do the police answer to? Who ought the police answer to?
They answer to the chief at their precinct, who answers to the commission , who answers to the mayor.

Are police held too accountable, properly accountable or not accountable enough for their actions?
Not enough.

I've been racially profiled four times in the eight years I've lived in my neighborhood. I do charity work in Manhattan and never miss a chance to ask some of the homeless and less fortunate among us about their treatment at the hands of the "POPO". Majority of it is a horror story.

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