Even When Justified
The cowardly shooting deaths of five law enforcement officers in Dallas, Texas, last week at the hands of a man who obviously was consumed by hatred is so difficult to comprehend.
Like many of you, I know a few police officers and deputy sheriffs as well as police chiefs and the sheriffs themselves. Too often, we take for granted the sacrifices they make to enforce the law, to protect us from harm. Seldom do we give any thought to the sacrifices a law enforcement officer’s loved ones make so their spouse or mother or father or sibling can do what law-abiding citizens expect of them — enforce the law and protect us from harm.
So it was somewhat surreal to turn on the television set that Thursday night as it all unfolded in downtown Dallas where a 25-year-old military veteran, Micah Xavier Johnson, unleashed a barrage of gunfire at a peaceful demonstration, striking 12 police officers including the five who lost their lives. Johnson apparently acted in response to police officer shootings of suspects in Baton Rouge and near Minneapolis, Minnesota just days prior. At least that’s the impression he gave before Dallas police killed Johnson with an explosive device.
In Baton Rouge, a 37-year-old career criminal, Alton Sterling, was shot multiple times by a police officer and died shortly thereafter. Video footage of the shooting clearly showed Sterling was armed and was reaching for his weapon when he was shot and killed. The two Baton Rouge police officers that confronted Sterling in response to a complaint about his aggressive behavior near a convenience store are on leave pending an investigation.
The officers should be cleared of any wrongdoing and put back to work as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the city of Baton Rouge is under siege thanks to protesters, including individuals affiliated with that outfit known as Black Lives Matter. A thorough investigation of Sterling’s shooting death be damned, protesters have called on Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden to resign. They want the police chief to quit, too.
In other words, the protesters don’t believe their lying eyes and aren’t interested in the facts or an investigation. Their purpose in life is simply to disrupt civilized society.
The protestors got a helping hand from Gov. John Bel Edwards, who called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation of Sterling’s death. Edwards’ move to call in the Feds, though probably well intentioned, did nothing but add fuel to the fire of distrust among the protesters who seem to believe an investigation of the shooting would be whitewashed.
Yet, Edwards saved face when he defended the law enforcement community while speaking to the press a few days following Sterling’s death. Perhaps the governor listened to the superintendent of the State Police, Mike Edmonson, instead of getting caught up in the hoopla to blame the police anytime a black man loses his life at the hands of a law enforcement officer.
In Minnesota, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer following a routine traffic stop. Castile informed the officer he had a weapon in his automobile, but when Castile reached for his wallet, the officer discharged his sidearm.
From most appearances, the officer overreacted.
There were other incidents around the country last week in which law enforcement officers were confronted with life and death situations, including being fired upon and wounded. At least two of the shootings of police officers were in retaliation to the recent shootings of black Americans by law enforcement.
All the while, President Barack Obama can always be counted to deliver a little speech on gun control anytime somebody gets shot.
Even when it was justified.
Sam Hanna is a state
Editor’s Note: This column was written prior to the Sunday July 17, 2016 police shootings in Baton Rouge.