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So the police chief of Ferguson holds his news conference to reveal the name of the out-of-control cop who shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown, and it went like this:

"Look over there! Mike Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson strong-armed a convenience store employee and stole cigars!"

And strong-arm theft is not nice. However it sure as hell is not grounds for the freaking death penalty.

According to MSNBC, Johnson's attorney says that Johnson has been open with authorities about what he and Mike Brown did:

In an interview with msnbc shortly after the report was released, Johnson’s lawyer confirmed that Brown had taken cigars from the store.

“We see that there’s tape, that they claim they got a tape that shows there was some sort of strong-armed robbery,” said Freeman Bosley, Johnson’s attorney. “We need to see that tape, my client did tell us and told the FBI that they went into the store. He told FBI that he did take cigarillos, he told that to the DOJ and the St. Louis County Police.

And I am certain that the rightwingers who support any police action against black folks will jump on this. "See there? Michael Brown bullied a clerk and stole cigars!"

Which was wrong. BUT that is not grounds for executing him in the street.

This story strikes a deep chord with me. Back in the 1970s, I taught at a predominantly-black business college in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. One of my students, Dallas Parker Jr., was a Vietnam Vet, a sweet and shy human being, and a junkie who was struggling to keep it together.

One night, Dallas and a buddy broke into an appliance warehouse to steal stuff to sell. They were unarmed. The police shot Dallas in the back as he was running away from the scene. They killed him--for breaking into an appliance warehouse. They killed him for trying to steal toasters or radios.

When I heard the news in the teacher's lounge the following morning, I couldn't help it; I cried for Dallas. I was outraged. The response of the dean? "Well, he shouldn't have been where he was."

My response to her, "But the penalty for theft is not death, is it?"

She held to her terribly wrong opinion, but I've always been glad that I spoke up. Of course, I would be a helluva lot gladder if Dallas Parker Jr. had been able to kick his habit, live, finish school and let his light shine....

It is extremely important that any justification for the policeman's murder of Michael Brown be countered with this: the penalty for stealing is not death.

Cops are not supposed to hit the street and apprehend and punish suspects. They are supposed to bring them in and let the legal system take it from there. Cops are not supposed to be judges, juries, and certainly not executioners.

Why did that cop kill Mike Brown? Probably because he was frustrated that he could not physically apprehend him. Big Mike was too much for him. It all boils down to stupid machismo. He had to "win" the confrontation. He couldn't do it physically, so he used his gun. For the "win." Yeah, he really showed Mike Brown who's boss.

This goes beyond bad policing. That cop's decision to shoot and kill an unarmed guy he couldn't physically apprehend is part of a pernicious idea that has permeated American society in my lifetime: The idea that a gun is a go-to "equalizer" is one that has been pounded into our consciousness through countless movies--and of course the NRA's propaganda.

The shooting of Michael Brown is indefensible. It does not matter that, according to his friend's attorney, he strong-armed a convenience clerk and stole cigars. The penalty for theft is not death.

Nor should a civilized society want it to be.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Precedent? Tennessee v Garner (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandraX, nicteis, MKinTN

    Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985)

    Held: The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against, as in this case, an apparently unarmed, nondangerous fleeing suspect; such force may not be used unless necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. Pp. 497 U. S. 7-22.

    Page 471 U. S. 2

    (a) Apprehension by the use of deadly force is a seizure subject to the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement. To determine whether such a seizure is reasonable, the extent of the intrusion on the suspect's rights under that Amendment must be balanced against the governmental interests in effective law enforcement. This balancing process demonstrates that, notwithstanding probable cause to seize a suspect, an officer may not always do so by killing him. The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. Pp. 471 U. S. 7-12.

    "Hell is other people at breakfast." --Sartre

    by Praxxus on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:08:52 AM PDT

  •  My theory is that Wilson didnt know about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandraX, MKinTN

    the robbery when he stopped Michael and Darien, that would explain a lot of the craziness.  That is why Darien wasn't arrested at the scene or shortly thereafter, that is why they didn't release the first incident report, because it didn't have anything about apprehending a robbery suspect.  Uncorrupted timelines will be key for Michael to get justice.

    Ever since Darien's admission to the FBI and the other detective who was on the robbery case looked at the videotapes, this awful police department has been busy reverse engineering Wilson's crime.  

  •  While the cop is likely still guilty of murder (0+ / 0-)

    Those stills are pretty terrifying, and certainly destroy the neighborhoods claim, that I had believed, that he was a gentle giant

    You can star to see a defense for why MB might have been more aggressive when he thought was going to be caught, and why the cop may have been fearing for his life

    Also important, for why the neighborhood may be skewing the story out of social pressure

    It's not enough, as I said the cop is probably still guilty....however it looks like the start off a defense

    •  Too many holes. What if Wilson didnt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandraX, a2nite

      know about the robbery?  Why wasn't Darien arrested?  Because THAT WASNT the reason for the stop.

    •  it's surely the start of a defense (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Wednesday Bizzare

      But it's a bad defense.

      Brown was trying to flee the cop, who was unable to pull him into his vehicle and started fucking shooting.

      There is no way that the cop could reasonably fear for his life when the suspect was running away from him.

      •  That's the neighborhood account (0+ / 0-)

        Which, as I state is under a lot of pressure

        Which is why they presented this gentle giant narrative

      •  Yes, he can because the scary black man has (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        magical powers and strength. He will say that he was in fear for his life because that is the new script for white men or any one to murder a black man.

        I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

        by a2nite on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:56:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  At first blush, sounds like 2 different incidents (0+ / 0-)

      The police report says nothing about cigars - presumably because what the surveillance video shows being taken is candy.

      The "identification" could at this point be so much wishful thinking by a cop who, by his own account, knew Brown's face only from a glimpse of him face down on the sidewalk.

      So although the stolen cigarillos won't help Johnson's credibility on the stand, it's a little soon to deep six the gentle giant portrait.

      The real USA Patriot Act was written in 1789. It's called the Bill of Rights.

      by nicteis on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:39:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  if cop were that afraid, why not call for back up (0+ / 0-)

      and wait for reinforcements?  Isn't that protocol?

      •  Afraid in the struggle (0+ / 0-)

        Remember the original cop story is that brown went in the car and then went for the gun

        So the cops defense would be he was attacked, struggle for what he thought was his life, and didn't realize he was turning away because his body was fully pumped with adrenaline thinking he was about to die

        Again, it's all still unlikely

        •  there is "defense" and then there's reality (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kathy Scheidel

          As we saw in the Zimmerman case, too often defense has little to do with getting at the truth. It's all about gaming the legal system to free the defendant.

          I see some real parallels here. Zimmerman killed an unarmed black teenager who he claimed was struggling for his gun, so he, fearing for his life, fired.

          I thought that defense was bullshit, too.

          I have no proof, but it sure looks to me like these cowboy-types use their guns when they can't win a fist fight.

          So the cops defense would be he was attacked, struggle for what he thought was his life, and didn't realize he was turning away because his body was fully pumped with adrenaline thinking he was about to die
          Would the counter to this defense be "this is why cops have training?" Aren't they supposed to be trained not to let adrenaline override judgment when they're about to use deadly force?

          If not, they sure as hell should be.

          It looks like the culture of the police department in Ferguson should also be admissible in court to counter this cop's defense.

          After all:

          •  You can't use Zimmerman to convict someone else (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not sure, but I believe even some friendly witnesses said there was a struggle where MB was leaning into the car, in a way that implied he wasn't "pulled" into the car like other witnesses implied

            This case has facts much worse than TM, such as the witness accounts of it basically being an execution, and facts that are worse for the victim, such as the stills of the robbery

            I wish I could see an FBI investigation, but with those stills and people on dkos saying its MB...

            The police stories up this point were ridiculous because he had no reason to fear his being arrested for a crime he committed and it would take someone recklessly violent to initiate a physical confrontation with a cop and go for his gun

            Well now, if commentators are correct, we see he was recklessly violent and he had reason to fear being arrested for a crime he committed

            It makes a defense that was impossible now unlikely but possible

  •  Shot in the back . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandraX, a2nite

    That tells the story right there .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:24:17 AM PDT

  •  In the US under the Second is. (0+ / 0-)

    With most states a citizen can kill a person who breaks into their home or the home/business of another and have legal standing to do so.  Even if the person has not made any attempt at harming someone else.

    In many states an armed citizen seeing the young men take the stores product could gun them down and be called heroes. (See the case of Dante Williams, where the citizen gunned down Williams as he left the store by shooting him in the back)

    Now, police have special abilities, they can use a higher level of force than is used by another to include legal permission to use force to stop a person from fleeing even if they are not guilty of anything other than fleeing from the police.

    It is not right.  But it is the current law that lets gun advocates argue for the "need" to have guns and what the Supreme Court used as the "human right of self defense" that can't be infringed.

    The only way to fix that is to repeal the second amendment and then apply that to the police.

    Stupid question hour starts now and ends in five minutes.

    by DrillSgtK on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:30:52 AM PDT

  •  how does the 2nd Amendment apply here? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kathy Scheidel

    Where in the 2nd does it say it's cool to shoot an unarmed person who is running away from you on a public street?

  •  of course this happens when a PD exists (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandraX, a2nite

    to protect property and not civilians.  Wonder what a quick run through the county's Office of Mesne Conveyances would reveal about the ownership of the stores, shops and rental units in the affected neighborhoods?

  •  Yes, it is nt (0+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 09:53:43 AM PDT

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