Anyone who reads this regularly knows I don’t buy the “it was just one guy having a bad day” argument that always – at least at first – accompanies stories of police brutality. Because it isn’t just one guy having a bad day. A look at the knowns and unknowns in the Baltimore case : News.
The real issue in this case is, “How and why did Mr. Gray get that spinal cord injury that ultimately killed him?”
But the riots that have erupted in Baltimore (and after each of the recent incidents in other parts of the country) draw attention away from the original act, and away from the police and their conduct. And their conduct in the Gray case was not good, but it is no longer the center of the news coverage.
Why they chased him is not even the most egregious issue, so let’s ignore it.
Once he was in custody he asked for an inhaler. He was not given it. He was cuffed and shackled in the back of a van, but not put in a seat-belt. If a cop in Baltimore saw you driving without a seat-belt you would get a fine; if they saw you driving with a child not restrained in a car seat I am betting you would get visit from child services, but they put someone in the back a van with no seat-belt and this was an honest mistake? Remember, this is not the first time a suspect not belted into the back of a van ended up with a spinal cord injury in Baltimore. So is there an issue of teaching him a lesson by slamming him around in the back of the van? That would be known as ‘giving him a rough ride.’ Presumably to teach him a lesson. It was a life-long lesson they taught him. I wonder if the cops who did all of this learned anything. I suppose it could be that they were just negligent. Now if you or I were negligent in some way that resulted in a man’s death, I think we would be charged with manslaughter. Any bets on these cops facing charges?
I know a few of cops, one retired cop and one guy who decided that it really wasn’t his cup of tea. Not all cops are bad people. But to say that the problem of police misconduct is a few bad apples ignores things like the “rough ride” in Baltimore, or the Chicago Special Operations Section, or the Rampart scandal in LA, or Jon Burge and company in Chicago, or the NOLA PD covering up the fact that they executed at least one black man during the mess after Hurricane Katrina. I could go on listing things for quite a while that don’t boil down to 1 guy having a bad day. (Shaking down tow-truck drivers was so common in Chicago that the rank and file was shocked to discover that it was, in fact, illegal.)
The Hurricane Katrina aftermath holds a special place in the list of shame. One man – the sheriff or whatever – decided that on his authority, the Second Amendment no longer was the law of the land. And based on his decision, cops who had descended on Louisiana from all over the country put on their best Jack-boots and proceeded to confiscate and destroy personal firearms. The Stazi couldn’t have done a better job. As a result of their illegal actions, there were suits and laws passed in a handful of states saying that the cops don’t get to suspend the Constitution, and in particular the Second Amendment, not even if they really want to.