T: Truth Took a hit

July 2013 I was stopped speeding in Butte, MT but let was off with a warning. The officer was very professional, signaled me back inside when I started to get out of the car, checked my background and then told me how I had screwed up. I was angry with myself for speeding and concerned about how much this was gong to cost me. At no time did I worry about being arrested, harassed or racially profiled—I’m a 69 year old white guy. The chief lesson I take away from the disaster in Ferguson is how pervasive and well founded is the fear of African Americans when they are stopped by a white police officer. I knew that, but now the understanding is more visceral, more in my bones.

Truth took a hit thanks to how incompetently the Ferguson police and DA handled everything they touched. 1) Crime scene photos were not taken because the person doing that had a dead battery in the camera. [Nobody had a cell phone?] 2) Details like where blood spatter happened was not measured in relation to the police car, 3) Officer Wilson’s initial interview was not recorded, and the officer doing the interview, “had other thing,” on his mind, 4) Instead of using a less intimidating presence the police brought in armored personnel vehicles, riot gear, pointed loaded guns at the protesters and reminded me of the worst days of the 60’s, 5) Six weeks after the event Wilson gave his official statement, 6) The grand jury leaked like a rumor in junior high, 7) The DA postponed the announcement of the grand jury decision until 8:00 PM assuring that there would be trouble and the darkness would make it harder for the authorities to contain, 8) The decision to dump every scrap of evidence on the non-sequestered grand jury was highly unusual even for this DA, 9) His announcement had so much detail it was hard to follow, especially knowing that all hell was breaking loose in Ferguson and other cities, 10) My criticism here is only part of the criticism made by professionals.

Darrell Wilson could have stayed in his car and waited 90 seconds for the backup to arrive since he was in fear for his life. Hell, he could have hit the gas and gotten Mike Brown to let go of his gun and/or arm that way.

The great tragedy is that Mike Brown died; the details and fallout are forever mired in so much unprofessional handling of the incident that people will argue about what it means and how it happened for years, with no resolution. Lack of evidence and poor procedure keeps me from proving that either Brown or Wilson was more at fault, but I blame the officer who had a series of options before he got out of his car and emptied his gun into a man he feared.

Michael Brown, and therefore Darrell Wilson have not received a fair judgment of what happened that day. This is an American tragedy and will affect every officer when he/she makes a traffic stop, or drug bust for some time to come. It will also affect the person being stopped.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. heyannis
    Dec 06, 2014 @ 03:46:21

    It certainly did take a hit, Terry. Thanks for your thoughtful post. xoA



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