This past couple of years, there has been a national conversation going on about cops shooting black suspects. While it has not always been white on black violence, it has largely been. What makes the conversation so acute is that even when the cases are taken to court, the overwhelming number of cops who kill a black are found to be not guilty. You have to understand that in order to get to trial, a cop has to be sent there by the very people with whom he works. Thus a cop going to trial is almost always tried by the district attorney (or similar lawyer) with whom he has worked, during his employment, to bring criminals to justice. In various cases, the cop had already been fired by his own police chief. In other words, working professionals in that area concluded that the actions of the cop went beyond what is allowable. But, take a case to the courts, and mysteriously the cop is found not guilty.
Frankly, it reminds me of the way things were in the Old South and the reasons why Federal Civil Rights laws had to be passed, and that those laws included provisions for trying people who were being found innocent at state court level. The reason those laws were passed was because it began to pass belief that all those people could be innocent of the crimes of which they were accused. In the same way, it is tempting to say that the same type of laws are needed to protect us against cops. Unfortunately, studies show that the tendency of juries anywhere in this country is to not simply give the benefit of the doubt to cops, but to bend over backward to a refusal to believe that a cop could have done something wrong, even when he is brought to justice by his own people. When juries refuse to believe even the police chief and/or the prosecutor, there is little that can be done.
I actually have talked to–and know–a person who is involved at the federal level in what the TV shows call, “Internal Affairs.” He is a federal law enforcement officer who goes after crooked or criminal cops. He has related to me that one of his major frustrations is to have cases against cops regularly lost, even when he provides video evidence. They have had more than one case in which they were even able to record the illegal transaction, only to have the jury vote not guilty. He has to watch crooked and criminal cops return to the street because the jury refuses to believe even carefully collected video evidence. But, this means that cops are going back on the street who now know that they are unconvictable. They can do what they wish with impunity.
The case above is going to be an interesting case because it is cop on cop violence, white cop on black cop. The black cop was present (in civilian dress) to support his fellow policemen. But, he was shot by a white cop. This actually presents what seems to me to be a clear-cut case. One of the two cops is wrong and should either go to trial or be fired. It is impossible for both cops to have been doing the right thing. Once a firearm is pulled and fired, the law has very little tolerance for the argument that it was a mistake. So, someone is wrong here. Do you think there will be a trial? Do you think the white cop or the black cop was wrong? Or, will you try to gloss it over with the claim that it happened in the heat of the moment, and try to bury this? Unfortunately, the black cop had already been checked out by his fellow cops and was recognized as a cop. The white cop drove up and promptly shot the black guy holding a gun. A cop shot a cop. A white cop shot a black cop. Is there nothing to see here?
The problem now for the unceasing apologists is that a good guy shot a good guy. Which one is wrong, the white cop or the black cop? Legally, you cannot simply say, “Oops.” Or is that what you will try to say? Fortunately for the black officer, he followed proper procedure and was identified as a cop on site. Had he been simply a black citizen, we would already have the apologists lining up to tell us about all the things the black victim had done wrong, and the reasons why the white cop had a right to shoot him. I am sure those apologists will show up sooner or later, but hopefully way later and in diminished numbers. But, they will show up, and they will claim some justification, and the national conversation will not advance even an inch.