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In a nation of 300+ million people, the occasional tale of legendary idiocy or corruption is to be expected. Hey, it happens. A few incidents across one of the largest nations on Earth is not a trend.
What grabs my attention in Mark Steyn’s latest column, however, is the long series of high-ranking officials who are apparently willing to excuse the inexcusable — a young man, wrongly suspected of stealing a car, taking a bullet (which collapsed his lung) from a policeman after objecting to the cops’ rough treatment of his mother:
The District Court found for the coppers, and so did the Fifth Circuit, ruling that “Get your [expletive] hands off my mom” constituted a “verbal threat” and, from a guy on his knees 15-20 feet away, “an immediate threat to the safety of the officers” – rather than (as we approach Mother’s Day) what ought to be the sentiment of any self-respecting young man seeing somebody physically assault his mom.
The Supreme Court has now vacated the Fifth Circuit’s decision, and “remanded the case for further proceedings” [….]
Mark doesn’t bother to mention the police department’s willingness to defend this action. But let’s group those officials with the senior judges who believe this is legal.
According to the District Court ruling mentioned here, “the officer was entitled to qualified immunity because he did not violate any clearly established right.” This is later clarified as a federal right. Alas, there is no federal right to continue breathing.
Steyn goes on to summarize other recent cases of quick-on-the-draw police officers.
When the adrenalin’s pumping and seconds count, I’m willing to cut police plenty of slack. But I do wonder sometimes.
What do you think of Mark’s conclusion? Are these cases symptoms of widespread problems? What should be the consequences of such severe mistakes by police when the accused are indeed innocent?