Riots in US over schoolboy shooting...

  Quickbeam 07:53 25 Nov 2014
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"State prosecutor Robert McCulloch said the jury had exhaustively examined the evidence". God Bless America ...

  Quickbeam 07:54 25 Nov 2014

...or should that be seen as a typo, God Help America.

  Forum Editor 08:11 25 Nov 2014

As always, it's a good idea to examine the facts as they are known.

There have been two autopsies - an official one and one carried out for the family. the results contain conflicting information.

Several black eye-witnesses have corroborated the police officer's version of events. One of them telephoned a radio station. She said that when the police officer tried to get out of his car, Brown (the victim) pushed him back in, and punched him in the face. The officer reached for his gun, but Brown grabbed it. When the officer pushed Brown away, the gun went off inside the car.

The caller said Brown then ran off and taunted the officer when he told the teenager to freeze. Brown then rushed at the officer at full speed, which is when he was shot dead.

Confusion obviously reigned, as it always does in these incidents. Sooner or later a court has to make a decision, based on the weight of evidence, and that has happened. What follows is often the sort of thing that is happening in Ferguson right now.

It's a nightmare for the bereaved family, and for the community, and tempers are running high. That does not mean the police officer is automatically guilty of a crime however.

  Quickbeam 08:17 25 Nov 2014

"That does not mean the police officer is automatically guilty of a crime however."

No, but a hastily assembled jury that clears an officer in the blink of an eye before the eyes of the world has no credibility whatsoever.

I can't help but think that Hollywood's Dirty Harry style of enforcement has become too readily acceptable.

  Forum Editor 08:33 25 Nov 2014

"...a hastily assembled jury that clears an officer in the blink of an eye"

What makes you say it was 'hastily assembled'?

Bear in mind that this was a US Grand Jury. Members are there to help the prosecutor decide whether to proceed or not. Grand Juries have the power to interrogate anyone they like, and look at any kind of evidence. There are twelve people involved, and they sit in private. Witnesses are encouraged to speak freely, and are guaranteed privacy. It's a good system.

This jury started hearing evidence on 20th August - I don't call three months 'the blink of an eye'.

  john bunyan 10:57 25 Nov 2014

I had an extensive talk from police in the early '60's when I fired a warning shot at an intruder in my house on the subject of "reasonable force". Simply put the response must be in proportion to the threat, and the use of lethal force against unarmed people is clearly the subject of grave worry - as we have seen in the De Mendez and other cases in the UK. There is also the problem that if police are too worried about being prosecuted there will be an occasion where a serious event happens because a policeperson hesitates - nearly happened in the Drummer Rigby case. Also it will be difficult to recruit firearms officers. In the USA the number of deaths due to crossfire or police errors is far greater as all police are armed. Unfortunately the racial element arises when a white "cop" (one of only 3 in the local force) , where the local population is 85% black, shoots an unarmed black teenager. A similar episode happened yesterday where a 12 year old with a toy but realistic pistol with the orange "toy" label was missing was shot in spite of the phone call to the police opining that the weapon was probably a replica. Altogether a very difficult issue, similar to the riots here after another shooting.

  Quickbeam 11:47 25 Nov 2014

" I don't call three months 'the blink of an eye'."

Compared to here where for example the Stephen Lawrence case is still rumbling on it is!

  spuds 12:19 25 Nov 2014

This is no apology or excuse for the case in question, but every evening on Freeview channel 66 at 7pm to 9pm there's two program's called Cops and Cops Reloaded.

It might pay to see that program, to see how American law enforcement works in various parts of the USA, because it might become an eye opener to the way some law enforcer's work on a daily basis in the USA, and that includes the officer's knowing that they are being filmed, or their actions being recorded.

  Forum Editor 13:50 25 Nov 2014

"Compared to here where for example the Stephen Lawrence case is still rumbling on it is!"

Stephen Lawrence was killed by an unknown assailant. In the Ferguson case the police officer was the one who killed Michael Brown - there's no dispute about that, and no comparison whatever with the Lawrence case.

Three months to examine a case where there's no dispute about who fired the fatal shot(s) is definitely not 'the blink of en eye' by any standard.

  Forum Editor 13:59 25 Nov 2014

john bunyan

....in spite of the phone call to the police opining that the weapon was probably a replica.

In the interests of accuracy I should point out that the officer who fired the fatal shot had not been told about the call - he was not informed that the weapon was probably a replica, and in his position (the boy refused to lay down the weapon when repeatedly told to do so) I might well have fired at him myself.

It is a very easy thing to consider a situation calmly, after the event, and make judgements, but it's a very different story when you are faced with a split second 'him or me' decision. A member of my family spent several years as an armed officer in the Diplomatic protection squad with the Metropolitan police, and he has told me of the incredible tension you feel when you are standing there and a a suspicious-looking person walks directly towards you. God knows what it's like when someone starts waving a gun around in the street.

  john bunyan 14:14 25 Nov 2014

Forum Editor

I agree with you , which is why I tried not to be judgemental in my post. However there have been cases , even in the UK, of a person being shot dead whilst carrying a table leg in a poly bag. In my service days one almost had to wait until you were fired at before responding, but the "rules of engagement" often change very much according to the political situation at the time. I have a godson in the unit to which you refer, and a friend who recently retired as an Inspector in the Royal Protection Group ,so have heard those stories. I do not envy the police in these situations, and with the terrorist threat level high and probably getting more serious, things will get worse.

I would only have shot the boy concerned had he began to point the weapon. The idea of "shoot to wound" is a pipedream. If you open fire you aim for the centre of the target.

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