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The Only Thing That Actually Counts

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The shooting in Ferguson, Mo. has been the launching pad for all manner of expounding about pre-existing agendas.  Libertarians have used it to urge the disarming of the police (called "demilitarization" for their present purposes); liberals have used it to push for legalizing dope; anti-white racists have used it to demand reparations ("reparations" being the word that radicals of one race use to promote appropriating money they did nothing to earn from people of a different race who did nothing to bring about the practices they condemn).

All this is the expected, if not exactly wholesome, reaction of a society that encourages free speech.  But it deflects  --  and is largely designed to deflect  -- from the one thing that actually counts.
And what is the only thing that actually counts?

It's whether Officer Darren Wilson, at the time he shot Michael Brown, had an objectively reasonable, even if mistaken, fear of imminent grave bodily harm or death.

That's the law of self-defense, and that's all there is.

If he had such a fear, he is guilty of no crime.  If he didn't, he's guilty of some degree of homicide.

It makes no difference that young black males are, statistically, the most crime-prone demographic.  It makes no difference that America has a rancid history of slavery and Jim Crow.  It makes no difference whether blacks distrust the cops or cops distrust blacks.  It makes no difference if cops have a fleet of tanks in the police station garage.  

What the chattering class seems not to get (either that or they just have air time to fill) is that, in the United States, each case gets decided on its own facts, not on statistics, history or prejudices.  

There is at least one plausible scenario in which Wilson is guilty of nothing:  He pulled Brown over for walking in the middle of the street; they had a fight in which Brown, ten minutes after his strong-arm robbery, broke Wilson's eye socket; Brown started to run away, Wilson ordered him to stop; Brown complied but then bull-charged Wilson; and Wilson shot him when he was about 35 feet (or three seconds) away.  If that's what happened, then Wilson, at the time of the shooting, had an objectively reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily harm, given Brown's size and aggressiveness, and the fact that Brown had already inflicted a serious injury on him.

Of course, on the present (conflicting) evidence, that's not the only plausible scenario. Here's another:  All of the above, except that when Wilson ordered Brown to stop, Brown raised his hands in surrender and slowly walked toward Wilson, whereupon Wilson shot him six times out of (a) racial hate, (b) spite, or (c) an objectively unreasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

In any of those cases, Wilson is guilty of some degree of homicide and should face appropriate punishment.

What's needed is an honest, open-eyed and open-minded investigation by people without an axe to grind.  I have my doubts that this will happen, but remain hopeful.

4 Comments

How can there be an impartial investigation when Holder and his 50 minions have already commandeered the investigation preemptively stating that he is prepared to "stand with" the people of Ferguson throughout this ordeal.

This in conjunction with his gripes about his humiliation at the hand of white law enforcement officers in stops on the Jersey Turnpike and in Georgetown make clear his leanings.

How can we have confidence in an AG who would not survive Voir Dire in a trial setting?

Agreed, MJS.

If McCulloch cannot investigate this incident objectively because he comes from a cop family and his father was killed by a black man while on duty, then Holder and (I suspect) his minions are equally inappropriate.

I have attempted to read the varying accounts of what happened, and I believe that this entire situation is a classic example of "Nebel de Krieges" or in English, the Fog of War.

It is nighttime, Brown assaults Wilson, and then flees. Wilson pursues him and Brown stops and turns around. Wilson makes some movement, and Wilson based on the limited information available to him (just got pummeled by a very large man, it is dark out) has a split second to make a decision. I do not think he'd have time to make this decision based on anything more than basic self-preservation (as opposed to racial hatred, this assumes if Brown was white, he wouldn't have shot him....)

Whether that is "unreasonable" per the law is another story for another day, but to me, it is easy for us desk warriors to "monday morning quarterback" these sorts of decisions. In sum, I do not see any crime here. Wrongful death? Maybe - preponderance of the evidence is a pretty low standard.

And just because my comments on these topics are:

Militarization of the Police - This could be a good thing if it means more discipline in the ranks and better weapons training.

Legalization of Dope - I generally support this ; however it is largely irrelevant to this situation.

Reparations - If reparations are to be paid for slavery, what about those of us who are 1/32 Native American? We got treated pretty shabbily too - or maybe all those casinos are fair compensation, but I still haven't seen my royalty check.

Decency evolves: Circumspection is certainly called for, as we currently don't know enough facts to draw meaningful conclusions and there is a lot of false information being peddled by scurrilous sources. Salon had an article on the phony charge that Michael Brown broke Officer Wilson's eye socket, which credulous media accepted before the account crashed and burned:

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/26/anatomy_of_a_fox_news_smear_ann_coulter_matt_drudge_and_the_dumbest_person_on_the_internet/

The same phony source claimed Brown "bum rushed" Wilson, so we can't take that as a given either. Time will tell.

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