Friday, November 28, 2014

Shooting of Michael Brown-a murder, a police encounter, or a self defense?

There is no doubt that police (of any country or state) have a very hard job to do. The kind of situations and challenges they face everyday are so unpredictable and dangerous that it is very difficult to apply normal logic under some of these situations. But at the same time many of these situations deal directly with human life and death, even a very small mistake can kill a innocent person or allow a dangerous criminal to get away. So they need to be vigilant, careful and attentive all the time. This all needs lot of training along with lot of physical and mental strength. That is why people from police force or military they are respected and honored for each and every act of bravery because they literally risk their own lives to save others every day. But when you read about the incidents like shooting of Michael Brown then you get a doubt in your mind whether everyone in police department is that honest and dedicated towards their job. Under the circumstances Michael was shot raises many uncomfortable questions for which there are no easy answers.

Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager was shot dead by Darren Wilson on August, 9 2014. I don't think after reading the full story any one can deny that Michael might have made some mistakes on that day (like stealing a pack of cigar from store or getting into argument with police officer or trying to resist the arrest) but the question is, were his mistakes serious enough to fatally shoot him? Did he pose such a serious danger to officer Darren Wilson's life that he shot Michael multiple times with clear intention of killing him? If Michael made some criminal offense then officer Darren should have tried to arrest him using available resources, if at all he required to use weapon he should have tried to use in non fatal way. Actually many teenagers do lot of stupid things, many of these things they do without knowing the legal consequences of their action. There is no doubt that kids who do these type of mistakes should be punished if the mistake is that serious to make sure that they don't repeat same mistakes. But there are non violent ways to deal with such unpleasant situations, one needs to show lot of patience while dealing with them. Brutal force should be used only when it is absolutely required in case of very serious crimes. Every effort should be made by law enforcement officers to handle the matter without causing any serious injury to anyone. This is because one can recover the lost or stolen items, one can chase or hunt criminals but one can not bring back lost lives and that is why this restraint and caution is necessary. 

This issue becomes more serious because of racial angle involved in it, victim Michael Brown was Black and Darren Wilson is white. One can understand why there is so much anger and protest against grand jury's decision, it is not only about the death but about the real intention behind the act of fatal shooting. Unfortunately many protests are turning out to be very violent with lot of destruction of public property. Actually these kind of protests rarely help the cause, but they shift the focus away from the real problem as serious law and order situation is created. So if people wanted to register their protest against the decision of grand jury they should protest in civilized and peaceful manure to convey their point. This shooting incident should be investigated by unbiased and diverse jury so that people also believe that any decision taken is unbiased decision. It is a job of investigating agencies to conduct totally transparent investigation.

Some available statistics indicate that black teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by cops, this data is very worrisome and concerning. If it is true then this problem needs urgent attention. Because of many complexities involved it is often difficult to decide whether such shootings are result of police encounter of a criminal or act of self defence (where officer shoots a person to save his/her own life) or a murder. It is often difficult to control anger or emotions under such situations so I think every effort should be made to avoid such unpleasant encounters between teens and police. Police needs to show some restraint and caution while dealing with this age group, if required they should be given special training to deal with such incidents. At the same time teens also should be made aware about role of police in their society and their own responsibilities as a citizen of society. Spreading awareness among police and teens about their rights as well as responsibilities can be a first step towards this direction. Michael is gone and I hope there is proper investigation in this case to reveal the truth. The main focus should be on how can we avoid these type of incidents in future. Until we focus on main issue we might witness more incidents like this. Let's try to accept first that there is a problem and then only we can find a solution for this. Unless both sides (society and law enforcement) which are part of this problem are actively involved in solving it I don't think there will be any viable solution for this. So let's think about this incident and the reasons which caused this, unless we all get involved this problem won't be solved. We all are part of this problem so we all have to be part of solution also.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown
2. Ferguson’s Grand Jury Bought Darren Wilson’s Story
3. Deadly Force, in Black and White

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