The Situation in Ferguson, MO
Although there has been discussion of questionable blog third person accounts of what friends of Officer Wilson said, I don't recall discussion of the actual eye witness accounts of the shooting, at least three of which have been recorded and are consistent with each other. For some reason I don't seem to be able to copy links to those interviews, but if you google 'eye witness interview Ferguson' they pop up.
Now, why would those obscure blog entries have more weight on this thread than eye witness accounts? Tom asked the relevant questions in post #12, all of which seem to be answered by eye witness accounts. [/quote]
In the absence of Wilson's side of the story directly from him (not gonna happen in an ongoing investigation), what we have to go on is the discussion on the Dana show (not an obscure blog) to hear the officer's side of the story. It may not be perfect, but it is the best we have right now.
Now take a look at the very next post (#13) at the first link provided by Tom. Another recorded eye witness account – who did not know he was being recorded – that disputes the others and seems to corroborate what was discussed on the Dana show. This was taken minutes after the shooting before even the ambulance arrived.
We'd all like it to be cut and dried, but clearly it is not.
As far as how much weight to put on anything being reported, that is up to the individual. Personally I'd rather have more data points than less.
Forensic evidence should able to tell the arm position when shot. That and any video should point to what happened. If Brown was running away, why didn't any bullets hit him in the back? Eye witness testimony should not be relied on because of story twisting (did you do this in grade school?)
This link may be better received, although I know CNN does not have the best name with many either. They do state that it has been vetted, but that is not ironclad either.
Still just trying to piece this together…
In the meantime, we have another police shooting:
This is 3 miles away, and early reporting seems to imply that it was suicide by police.
Here's an article which gives some background on the law regarding the use of lethal force. The law on lethal force in defense is the same for police and armed citizens, though the article seems to imply there are special laws that only apply to police. Shooting a fleeing felon is one situation that does only apply to police, though Texas seems to allow armed citizens (i.e. non-sworn individuals) to shoot fleeing criminals. The special regulations that apply to police are their departments' written policies on use of force. It is true that an officer who shoots an attacker can be legally exonerated but "prosecuted" by his/her department for policy violations.
Here's news of an unarmed burglar shot by victims/family members.
It is entirely possible the police investigation will be completed in 48 hours and the family members will not face criminal charges. It's not relevant to the legal issues but the family are Hispanic and the attacker is white.
That illustrates why reporting cannot be trusted…
2 brief interviews where she reports of what she saw happen:
Homeowner shoots (possibly unarmed) home invader who then leaves, drives 3 miles, and collapses. Apparently no charges against the homeowner.
Mother cornered in attic with nine year old twins shoots home invader six times. Home invader drives away. No charges for mother.
Renowned self-defense expert Massad Ayoob on the use of lethal force in defense against an unarmed attacker.
I often despair of ever knowing the truth in situations like this shooting. Emotion clouds people’s perception. Bias and prejudice color the reactions of all sides to the point where we each come to believe things happened in a certain way and will not change that view in spite of any evidence presented. Eyewitness testimony has been proven to be often unreliable. Forensics, thank god, can take some of the uncertainty out of the mix, but even forensic evidence can be open to various interpretations. It is often impossible to know exactly what happened in these situations and the participants are often the worse witnesses of all. The only thing that is certain is that the lives of the young man and the police officer, their families and friends, and in this case of a whole community, have been inexorably altered by the actions of a few moments.
While I mourn for everyone involved in this affair I am becoming concerned and angry over the continued militarization of our local police. I first took notice of this trend last year when the city of Boston was locked down on a sunny Saturday morning as a massive police presence searched for the Boston Marathon bombers. For hours the television and internet ran scenes of police in full military gear, roaming the streets of Watertown with several types of assault vehicles. They went door to door evacuating (forcing?) people out of their homes, searching those homes without warrants. They shut down all movement in a major metropolitan area to search for the two “terrorists”. I live thirty miles outside of Boston and have frequented the city all my life. The scenes that Saturday were totally unnerving. There was massive paramilitary activity throughout the city while a million people were ordered to suspend their usual Saturday activities to hunker down in their homes. I watched in disbelief and kept saying to my wife, how many soldier police are there? Where did they all come from so quickly? It felt as if I was participating in a made for television movie of an American coup d’etat.
I was further unraveled later in the summer when I learned that the police department of Concord, New Hampshire was planning to purchase a Bearcat armored vehicle with a federal grant. There was dissent from a number of community members when the city council was asked to vote on the proposal. According to media reports, the grant application, filed by the police chief, named, among others, the New Hampshire Free State Project as one of the terrorist organizations that justified the request for military gear and vehicles to aid local police. I subscribe online to the Free State Project. My name and email and probably my city address are in their data base. Unless they have a secret inner cell that is planning terrorism and sabotage, I know the group to be a loose band of libertarians. They think New Hampshire is one of the better places in the country to live if you wish to be removed from big government and excessive regulation. Their stated goal is to have twenty-thousand libertarians move to New Hampshire in the hope of preserving and fostering the state’s independent sensibilities and way of life.
I can hardly believe that police officials think they need to super arm themselves against the peaceful residents of New Hampshire. I am distraught at the thought that they would label a group whose wildest position is probably the legalization of marijuana as potential domestic terrorists.
The police eventually won the argument with the city council. Several other New Hampshire towns have taken advantage of the grants and purchased the vehicles. I guess I now live with the prospect of local police and county sheriffs rumbling down the dirt road to my north woods cabin in armored vehicles decked out in Iraq/Afghanistan type battle gear.
I can hardly wait to see what will happen the next time I try to purchase and airline ticket. This is not my father’s America.