Earlier this week, the shooting of a woman by a Henderson police officer was ruled justifiable. http://www.lvrj.com/news/17575599.html Before this decision, public opinion here in Las Vegas heavily targeted the officer as a murderer, and the police department as a bunch of rampaging thugs; after the decision, those critics automatically labeled the ruling a “whitewash.”
Why are people so eager to always say cops are wrong? It couldn’t be that they’ve absorbed the counter-culture media’s shallow anti-authoritarian agenda, with its putrid caricature of police as pigs, could it?
Well, if that were the case, wouldn’t it sound exactly the way the critics’ stream of callous insults sounds now? Doesn’t it send up any red flags that the thought process behind hating cops–“All cops are trigger-happy goons and they’re all bad”–is the same as that behind racism?
It boggles my mind that anyone can assume something so unabashedly awful about anyone else. Do these critics really want us to believe that this officer saw an unbalanced woman waving a knife at ther own children and thought, “Oh boy! Here’s my chance to kill an innocent woman!”? Do they think that police officers go around looking for “opportunities” like this one?
Was this officer so blind to reality by his allegedly-homicidal bloodlust that he disregarded the obvious fact that his shooting would come under intense scrutiny, and that the rest of his career would be under a shadow, just so he could have the “thrill” of killing a civilian? Not only is that a monstrous thing to think about a fellow human being, it presents gaps in logic that make universal health care sound reasonable. Whatever happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt?
Worse yet, this mindset shows up every time an officer is forced to fire on someone. Will these anti-cop protesters ever admit that a shooting was justified? If some voices of malcontent in our communities would agree that sometimes lethal force is necessary, then their only-occasional criticisms would carry more weight.
But is there any conceivable circumstance in which a cop could shoot someone NOT because he’s a secret psycho, according to the kind of people who are giving the Henderson police such a hard time now? Apparently not.
Consider the case of Billy Finks. In the Spring of 2001, Finks, a student at Western High School, skipped school, got high, drove a stolen car to another school, waved a gun at students, nearly ran over a bicyclist, ran from a police car that tried to pull him over, and, when he hit a dead end and did stop, got out of the car against orders, pulled a gun on the cop, and refused to drop it when ordered to do that.
He was shot and killed. The gun turned out to be a toy. An outcry went up against the young officer. http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2001/Mar-31-Sat-2001/news/15772393.html
I worked at an inner city middle school that year, and this boy’s cousin was in one of my classes. The entire class, and every student at that school that talked about it, blamed the cop. Apparently brainwashed by action movies in their assessment of motor skills as well as in their uncritical adherence to anti-authoritarian stereotypes, the consensus was that the cop should have shot Finks in the hand, forcing him to drop the gun.
As Dave Barry would say, I swear I am not making this up. In fact, as I’ve brought up this case to other classes at other schools in the seven years since then, any students who identifies with any segment of the youth-oriented counter-culture has voiced the same immediate judgment: the cop was a cold-blooded killer, and the kid was murdered.
I bring it up in class because it’s a great illustration of the logical gap between the facts and people’s conditioned reaction. If I’d wanted to invent a scenario where the officer was more justified and the victim more responsible, I couldn’t have done better than Billy Finks. And yet, year after year, people defend him.
Meanwhile, another young officer who signed up to put his life on the line every day to keep other people safe, lives the rest of his life knowing that he had to kill a civilian, and knowing that many of the people he serves so bravely are blaming him for it.
Heroes deserve better.