Holder visits Ferguson, Missouri

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Another violent night in Ferguson, Missouri resulted in many arrests, but by far the most peaceful of the last several nights.

The night gave way to a very eventful day.

At the local justice center, a county grand jury today began receiving evidence in the Michael Brown shooting.

And Attorney General Eric Holder arrived and has been meeting with local law enforcement, the Brown family and local residents.

He wants people to understand the federal government isn’t just aware of their concerns, but acting on them.

President Obama sent Holder to send the message that there will be a complete, fair, federal investigation.

They also want an end to the violence that’s been breaking out nightly since two Saturdays ago, when unarmed African American teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

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1 Comment

  • Russ Hamilton

    The events in Ferguson, Missouri regarding the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager have riveted the eyes of the nation on the issue of race relations in America…..The preceding opening sentence is typical of the ridiculous drivel being offered up by the lame stream, drive by, Dan Rather worshipping, Obama loving sycophants that populate most media outlets today. After reading dozens of stories on the Ferguson incident, I did not find a single story that offered up any analysis of how use of force under color of authority is scrutinized by the court system. Zero stories, zip, nada, nothing. Shame on them all for failing to help educate, illuminate and instruct the citizenry of this great country. Such instruction might have mitigated some of the mob looting and riots but those were the real stories that the main stream media wanted and now has. Since the media refuses to do their job, I have elected to do it for them.

    In the United States the use of force by police falls under a single standard, whether the force, at the time it was applied was objectively reasonable. The following is from the Supreme Court of the United States, detailing what that standard is.

    All claims that law enforcement officers have used excessive force in the course of an arrest, Graham made explicit, are to be judged “under the Fourth Amendment and its ‘reasonableness’ standard, rather than under a ‘substantive due process’ approach.” Underlying intent or motive are not relevant to the inquiry; rather, “the question is whether the officers’ actions are ‘objectively reasonable’ in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them.” The proper perspective in judging an excessive force claim, Graham explained, is that of “a reasonable officer on the scene” and “at the moment” force was employed. “Not every push or shove,” the Court cautioned, “even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge’s chambers, violates the Fourth Amendment.” “The calculus of reasonableness” must allow for the reality that “police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments” about the force a particular situation warrants “in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.”

    The court to its credit recognized that reasonableness itself must take into account the fact that that a human being, vested with powers of arrest and operating under stressful and changing situations are indeed human and therefore the measurement of whether the force is warranted must take those human factors under advisement.

    The protestors, looters, rioters and instigators in the Ferguson, Missouri event did not bother to research, investigate or even think in those terms. They were not concerned with the law or justice but only their agenda. Otherwise they could have waited for the investigation to reach a conclusion and argued for or against the finding.

    In examining what we know, or think we know so far in this case: Officer Wilson makes contact with two individuals in the middle of the street and from his police cruiser tells them to move off the street. The duo yell some obscenities at the officer and he pulls past them. At this point there is conflicting information about whether Officer Wilson received a radio transmission regarding the robbery just committed by Brown and his associate. In any case something caused Wilson to back his car toward the pair and then attempt to exit his vehicle when Brown forcefully slammed the door of the vehicle back on Wilson and began striking him causing a serious facial injury for which he was later hospitalized. At this point a struggle ensued between Brown and Wilson for the Officer’s weapon culminating in a single round discharge. Brown then attempted to flee the scene as Wilson exited the vehicle and began to pursue him ordering him to “freeze”. Brown turned back toward Wilson taunting him then rushed toward him and Wilson began to fire his weapon striking Brown 4 times in the right arm and twice in the head.

    The preceding scenario is the best I was able to patch together based on multiple news sources from eye winess accounts, autopsy reports, video and audio sources. That is not to say this reconstruction is either accurate or comprehensive. Additional information may prove parts of it wrong in the future but it is the best I can do at this time.

    Now back to objective and reasonable. In order to achieve this in any use of force case one must look at the totality of the circumstances from the view point of the officer and it must be contrasted against what an objective, reasonable, prudent officer would do under the same circumstances and conditions. The following are what I believe to be the most salient points in favor of Officer Wilson and his use of deadly force. However the single most important aspect in this is the truth. As more information is forthcoming it is possible I could change my mind regarding this event, but my understanding at this point in time leads me to believe the shooting was justified.

    1. Officer Wilson encounters 2 individuals and receives a radio transmission leading him to believe they may be responsible for a recent robbery. While it is true that the notice of the robbery may be in some dispute, the important fact is that Officer Wilson is cognizant of the fact that he is outnumbered.

    2. Officer Wilson experiences an attempt on his life by Brown based on the physical assault and battery on his person coupled with Brown’s attempt to grab his duty weapon. This particular point gives Wilson the knowledge that Brown is a violent individual who is willing to kill him.

    3. Officer Wilson receives a facial injury (broken orbital socket) of enough severity that he will later be hospitalized for it. This is evidence of the aggressive nature of Brown and though we do not yet know whether the injury impaired Wilson’s ability to function effectively, in my estimation it certainly must have negatively impacted him in some fashion.

    4. Officer Wilson exits his vehicle in an apparent effort to pursue and effect an arrest of Brown who taunts the officer stating “Oh, what are you going to do about it? You’re not going to shoot me.” At this point Wilson doubtlessly knows he is dealing with an unstable person who is possibly under the influence of a controlled substance.

    5. Brown rushes toward Officer Wilson who already has his gun drawn. He has no way of knowing if Brown is armed. He does know that seconds before Brown tried to kill him. He is also aware of the size of Brown who is an imposing 6’4″ tall and 292 lbs. We can not know yet how Wilson has been affected by the broken orbital socket or his eye or if he realized that his condition would make him all the more vulnerable to an attack. One thing that is apparent time and distance are running out. I feel relatively certain that Wilson would believe at this point, if the charge by Brown is successful, he will lose his life. Out of time and out of options Wilson begins firing his weapon. Four of the shots hit the right arm of Brown (evidence of impaired vision ?) . These shots have no apparent effect on Brown. Two of the shots strike Brown in the head ending both the confrontation and Brown’s life. It should be noted that under Missouri law, peace officers have no duty to retreat from the act of an arrest and are justified in taking it through to conclusion.

    Missouri Revised Statutes Section 563.046. Law Enforcement Officer’s Use of Force in Making an Arrest
    (1) A law enforcement officer need not retreat or desist from efforts to effect the arrest, or from efforts to prevent the escape from custody, of a person he reasonably believes to have committeed an offense because of resistance or threatened resistance of the arrestee. In addition to the use of physical force authorized under other sections of this chapter, he is . . . justified in the use of such physical force as he reasonably believes is immediately necessary to effect the arrest or to prevent the escape from custody.

    So with all these circumstances and laws in mind we can now determine if the lethal force used by Officer Wilson was objectively reasonable by asking a single question. What would the likely outcome of this scenario have been if Officer Wilson had not fired his weapon ? The inescapable conclusion is that he would have been killed or seriously wounded. That conclusion begets justifiability.

    The tests for objectively reasonable are derived from case law tried within the United States Supreme Court in the case Graham vs. Connor. I hope that those who read this will find it instructive, enlightening and useful. I also hope that the talking heads within the predominate media culture will someday wake up and start doing their jobs, though at this point in time seems oh so unlikely.

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