Charged with a duty to apprehend offenders, police officers must be prepared to use force. Armed confrontations in these circumstances are inevitable.
What an awful incident. To my mind, a cold blooded murder. While many of the cases being protested do not seem to involve misconduct, like the Ferguson case, this video shows to my mind a clear example of wrongful behavior.
The 17 year old victim, Laquan McDonald, who was holding a knife, was walking away from the police. Officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times. 16 times! Van Dyke fired for 14 seconds, and for 13 of those seconds, his victim was already on the ground.
Think about all of the outrageous aspects of this case. Citizens had made 18 complaints against Van Dyke. No consequences. A jury had found he had used excessive force in an arrest. No consequences. The police and prosecutor had access to the video for more than a year, but took no action. They only chose to prosecute when the video was released by order of a judge. Van Dyke has been receiving pay for the last year, serving on paid desk duty.
It is hard to dismiss this as an isolated incident. That there was no response until the video was forced to be released, in the face of such clear evidence of wrongdoing, suggests massive corruption.
For many people, these incidents require one to pick sides — the police or the criminals/victims. But that is absurd. In some cases, the police behave properly and the criminals are at fault. In others, it is the police that are fault. This incident falls into the latter category. Cases of this sort strongly suggest that in many places the institutions governing police misconduct are part of the problem.
Update: Things only get worse. The manager of the nearby Burger King, which had security footage of the killing, said that police came in and deleted the footage for the period of the shooting. While the prosecutor appears to deny the charge, the matter is not being addressed in a transparent way.