I'm a Conservative Independent in my political views (if I must be labeled let me be the labeler). I affiliate with and belong to no political party, although I normally do vote for GOP candidates, as the lessor of two political evils.
I find myself at odds these past several months with some Conservatives, on the issue of the recent epidemic of unjustified police shootings of American citizens, and police use of excessive force, and failure of grand juries to indict these officers and prosecution to occur.
I don't view this as a racial issue primarily as most do. Although, Black Americans definitely account for the majority of these excessive force incidents, but there have been some whites who have been victims of police use of deadly excessive force also over the last several years.
We Conservatives claim to be big supporters of law and order. I view this as a, law and order issue, in that police officers are not above the law. We don't give them a gun and badge and put them on our streets to be executioners(see a Sly Stone movie called "Judge Dredd" for perspective). A unarmed man who jaywalks, and steals some cigars, then finally tries to surrender to the police officer, even after a previous violent altercation between them, should not be shot dead by the officer. Nothing justifies that.
A 12 year old boy playing in a park with a toy gun should not be shot dead within 2 seconds of police arrival on the scene with the officer jumping out of the car and shooting this child dead before the car even comes to a full stop.
I grew up in NYC myself, and until I left to join the US military at age 19 had several personal encounters, as a teen with NYPD, that I would classify as harassment, and even one as an adult when I was visiting NYC in 2010 (An incident I intend to write of separately later).
They were minor compared to those we are having so much national turmoil over today. But there were two incidents of young black men being shot and killed by NYPD officers in the 1970's, while I was a teen that rival incidents of today, and remain a bitter memory for me, and still anger me, because in both cases the officers were not convicted of any crime.
One of the young men killed I knew personally, Randolph Evans, age 15. We grew up in the same NYC Housing project in Brooklyn, Marcy Houses, and I played some pickup basketball games in the park with Randy and we attended the same high school.
We were causal friends, he was not someone I hung with every day, but we were cool, as they said in the street vernacular of the day, meaning we respected each other and never had any kind of problem with each other. The police officer who shot Randy, Robert Torsney, could give no explanation of why he shot Randy, who was unarmed, point blank in the head, except as quoted from this article I'm linking on the incident:
On Thanksgiving Day in 1976 an officer named Robert Torsney fired a bullet into the head of Randolph Evans, 15, outside a housing project in Brooklyn. No one could figure that one out, either. Officer Torsney would later claim he had been afflicted with a rare form of epilepsy that, remarkably, had never been noticed before the killing and was never seen after it.
The other shooting death incident of a young black male by NYPD when I was a teen occurred in 1973, by an NYPD officer named Thomas Shea, who shot unarmed 10 year old Clifford Glover in the back, in Jamaica, Queens, also for no apparent reason as the article details:
One April morning in 1973 a veteran police officer named Thomas Shea pulled his service revolver and blew away a young black boy on a street in Jamaica, Queens. He shot the kid in the back. There was no chance of survival. Afterward, no one could figure out why the officer had done it. There was no reason for the shooting, no threat to Officer Shea of any kind. The boy's name was Clifford Glover and he was 10 years old
In the killing of Clifford Glover, there was no question race was definitely a factor, in the sick mind of police officer Thomas Shea:
“We were walking, not saying anything to each other, and this car pulls up, and this white fella opens the door with a gun,” Armstead later said.
It seemed like a stickup, so Armstead and the companion ran.
The gunman hollered, “You black son of a bitches!” Armstead heard gunshots and a cry from his companion: “I’m shot!”
It turned out the gunman was not a robber. He was a plainclothes cop named Thomas Shea. He and his partner, Walter Scott, were looking for two men who had robbed a cabby in the neighborhood that Saturday morning
Shea was prosecuted but a jury acquitted him. A jury that joined him in a celebration party later at a restaurant:
the jurors — 11 white, one black — bought the cop’s version and voted to acquit Shea. In old-school Queens style, the jury, the cop and his team all gathered that night at Luigi’s Restaurant, where he planted thank-you kisses on the cheeks of his acquitters.
But even NYPD would not support Shea and his partner in the murder of a 10 year old boy. He and his partner were fired from the force:
But Shea was not off the hook.
He faced a departmental trial for shooting the boy “wrongfully and without just cause.” Officer Scott was charged with lying to protect his partner.
The union boss called it a “kangaroo court,” and attorney Jacob Evseroff declared Shea was “protecting us from the animals who roam the streets.”
But Deputy Commissioner Philip Michael, who presided, said, “Shea and Scott were not shot at, they were not chasing persons who were armed, they were not in any personal danger, and they had no possible cause to use their guns.”
It's very obvious in the murder of Clifford Glover, because of what was said and heard, race was a factor. I can't say I believe so in these recent incidents, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, race absolutely was, although they are all young black males.
In the Mike Brown killing I personally believe it was more anger that drove Wilson to shoot Brown while trying to surrender, after the confrontation they had at the car.
No I don't agree with the St Louis county grand jury non-indictment after I read the transcripts of witness testimony given at the proceedings. I believe Wilson shot him unlawfully, and St. Louis county prosecutors did not want an indictment of Wilson or a criminal trial, and presented evidence to the grand jury in a biased way, to make sure he was not indicted. In Wilson's testimony, the Assistant DA acted more like his defense attorney, than a State DA seeking an indictment against him. Some of her questioning was leading and favored Wilson. Wilson testifying at his own indictment hearing in front of the grand jury was a history making event in itself, never allowed before in a case prosecuted in St Louis county.
But only God knows what is in the hearts and minds of these officers involved in the recent incidents. Here's a report on police killing of a young white male (there are a couple of other recent questionable incidents of police shooting deaths of young white men in Utah and CA) with Downs Syndrome in Maryland, Ethan Saylor, that occurred last year, by three off duty police officers who were moonlighting in a movie theater as security. Ethan wanted to see the movie he'd just seen, Zero Dark Thirty, over again and didn't understand the policy that required him to pay the $12 admittance fee again.
A little patience and training of how to interact with those with mental disabilities, especially since many homeless people police come in contact on the streets, also have mental problems, would have probably prevented this young man's death over $12:
Robert Ethan Saylor died, which generated outrage among parents of children with Down syndrome and advocacy groups across the country.
U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson was just as scathing, writing in his 54-page ruling that “a man died over the cost of a movie ticket.”
The judge ruled Saylor's family can move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit they have filed.
I feel poor training and failure to adhere to police procedure were factors in the police shooting death in Cleveland.
I find it hard to believe Cleveland police train officers to drive up to within 10 feet of a supposedly, "armed", suspect and jump from the car shooting. 2 seconds after police arrival 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot dead.
I want to express how this impacts me personally, especially if race is truly a motivation of police officers in these shootings, and use of excessive force . I'm the father of two young black male sons, one 27 and one 8 (yes quite a gap, my wife and I call our 8 year old our little oops!).
The 27 year old lives and works in NYC, and was once stopped in the neighborhood where he lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, by two NYPD officers, before stop and frisk policy was ended by the city of NY, and subjected to the process on the street, which he described to me as, "degrading and dehumanizing", especially with other NYers walking by and seeing it.
He said the two NYPD officers who, stopped and frisked him were disrespectful, and used profanity directed at him when he simply questioned them on why he was being stopped. My son has no criminal record, never been arrested, and in addition to his job on Wall St, my son is working on getting his MBA in Financial Management at Pace University, under a graduate program. He said they stopped him on a Saturday afternoon and when he was not in business attire he would normally be wearing on a workday. He was wearing jeans and sneakers and a old sweatshirt, which may or may not have contributed to why they stopped him. After patting him down and checking his ID, and asking a few questions they let him go, and he went on his way. I'm glad he kept his cool, although he said his blood was boiling and he felt humiliated, especially since he'd never been in trouble with the law, even in his teens, his entire life.
My son, who is normally apolitical, took part in the huge march in NYC yesterday against police use of excessive force. He said he felt compelled to do so. He was disappointed in the violence that took place on the Brooklyn Bridge he told me on the phone today.
I'm glad my son seems to have inherited the patience of his mother, I'd have had a problem personally with cops stopping me and putting their hands on me when I wasn't suspected or charged with any crime. I'm sure it would have ended badly if it was me.
My 8 year old has toys guns, and he and his friends will sometimes be out in our yard running around pretending to shoot each other, just as I did as a young boy. But not anymore because my wife has taken them all away from him and put them in the attic since the Tamir Rice shooting. (I think she's overreacting mself, but I know not to mess with a momma bear protecting her cub). He's not happy about it even though she explained to him why she did it.
Neither my wife or I agree with the thinking by some in the black community that you have to have, the talk, with your sons about how to behave in a special way when interacting with police. We both feel we have raised our sons to be good law abiding citizens who are well mannered, respectful, dignified human beings. We refuse to teach them they have to go into some kind of, Stepin Fechit, mode when interacting with police officers, or anyone else. I will never teach my sons to grovel.
I have over 36 years with DoD, in various forms, since age 19 when I began serving this country, one war (Gulf War) and several overseas deployments. My good wife has made many sacrifices too for America in support of me doing that. I hope to retire in a couple of years if God wills it.
We both feel the least America owes us in return is the peace of mind that our two sons, and also our daughter, can safely live their lives without the threat of an encounter with possibly racist, poorly trained police officers, taking one of their lives, using excessive force.
This country has to take seriously better vetting of who we hand a gun a badge, and put out on our streets, and training them properly. I think the great majority of police officers are professional and do their jobs well. But obviously some do not.
I have nothing but sympathy and hurt for the families, especially the parents, of those young men, both black and white, who have lost their lives in these police shootings.
Yes, it has to stop.
I will probably lose some of my Conservative friends stating this position, but I'm never going to hesitate to state why I believe, and feel in my heart is the truth. I only have to answer to and please God and He knows my heart.
I don't do right or left dogma, I do right or wrong.
My conclusion in personal evaluation of each of these shootings I wrote of, and use of force by police that resulted in a death, is that they were wrong and unlawful.
Yes Black lives matter; all lives matter.