Monday, August 04, 2008

Something else that should go without saying.

If the choice is between dead bad guy and dead police officer, I will always err on the side of dead bad guy.

This is what I said to an SAPD officer a couple of weeks ago. The subject in question was an officer-involved shooting wherein an officer shot and killed a man who'd rammed his car into the officer's cruiser, pinning it. (Story here.)

There has been a "rash of officer-involved shootings" locally, recently, two of them SAPD, two fatal, all three of which brought some second-guessing of the officer's actions.

This one in particular hits close to home for me. Literally. The incident occurred in the strip mall right behind the McDonald's I usually take my kids to, across the street from the HEB I typically patronize.

This particular story came to light shortly after the release of a bunch of recommendations for SAPD to basically improve its image and avoid more accusations of police abuse. One of the recommendations which Chief Bill McManus rejected out of hand would have prevented officers from shooting at a moving vehicle unless there was some other weapon involved. Which is all fine and dandy because as we know, no one has ever been murdered by being run over with a vehicle.

When we lived in Virginia, there was a similar uproar after police shot and killed a teenager who tried to run them over. (Police had been called for reports of a vehicle driving around without its headlights on very late at night; the guy turned out to have been high or drunk or both.)

Just a couple of days before this happened, police shot a man who pointed a pellet rifle at them. They did not know at the time it wasn't a real gun, and the man had been beating up on his girlfriend and threatening to kill her. So they drew the obvious--if erroneous--conclusion. And San Antonio is safer because of it.

Yeah, there are corrupt police. There are more who are simple assholes. Neither is the majority, and even put together they're not a majority. Most cops are, at worst, good men trying to do the right thing. And frankly, fine upstanding members of the community are very, very rarely involved in any sort of interaction with the police (save perhaps as the complainant), and the folks who choose to fight/threaten cops pretty much never turn out to be good Christian men. Mistakes are made, and occasionally on purpose--SAPD does not have a history of this, but until proven otherwise I will assume that the officer's in the right. Pretty much like I'll take the word of a police officer above the word of a petty criminal. It's kind of a no-brainer, I'd think.

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