Police Shootings In Florida And Texas
Elements of the 2014 Gregory Hill incident in Florida reminds me of the 2014 Dennis Grigsby incident in Texarkana, Texas.
According to a CNN article a jury in Florida awarded a family $4.00 for the 2014 death of Gregory Hill due to a shooting by a police officer. The lawyer of Mr. Hill’s family says that proves “Black Lives Don’t Matter”.
I understand the lawyer’s point which has validity in this case. However, I think it proves that certain lives don’t matter regardless of race. Certainly, any part of a system that awards a family $4.00 for anything is an unrighteous component of that system; that ought to be intuitively obvious and speaks of a system that is somehow out of touch with simple decency..
According to the article:
In deciding damages in the case, the jury awarded Bryant $1 for funeral expenses, and $1 for each child’s “loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and … mental pain and suffering,” verdict forms show. Hill’s children are 7, 10 and 13.
This incident reminds me of another 2014 incident that happened in Texarkana, TX when a “mentally ill” man named Dennis Grigsby was shot and killed by a Texarkana police officer after a burglary call when Mr. Grigsby was found in a neighbors garage. Mr. Grigsby reportedly was later found to have had only a spoon in his hand which the officer reportedly took for a knife .
I do not speak of the Grigsby incident to disparage or illustrate a lack of confidence in the Texarkana, Texas police including the responding officer. In fact, Chief Kevin Schutte, also a Christian Minister, before he was Chief attended and impressed me at the 2017 Texarkana Area Christian Leadership Conference to be genuinely concerned with bettering the engagement between police and citizens for the good of both police and citizens. I certainly do not believe a community ought to judge a police officer and the department for whom he/she works based on one incident. However, any existing improper pattern should be uncovered and heavily considered. I have no information concerning any improper pattern concerning the particular officer or police department.
In both cases it seems to me that the police officer simply should have retreated until the situation could have been better assessed and until more police and family member help could have arrived to better ascertain and control the situation. In neither case was the police officer in danger. In the case of Mr. Hill, every indication was that Mr. Hill was retreating from the encounter with the police and was not in any way an aggressor. The same seems to be the case concerning Mr. Grigsby.
I know being a police officer is one of the most dangerous and mentally as well as physically taxing jobs around and like all people police make mistakes. But when mistakes result in a death then there should be some accountability for that mistake, whether it is a mistake by a police officer or a regular citizen. At the very least the police authorities should publicly admit that the police person made a bad judgement in not retreating until other help arrived and that more extensive training and examination of procedures would be undertaken. But that seems to not be often done, if at all, for a number of reasons, none of which I believe are overridingly legitimate. A major part of the problem is the Police Department desire to avoid putting itself and its officers in legal jeopardy as mentioned in the below referenced Texarkana, Texas document on Racial Profiling and related issues. Somehow we as a society should find a way for law enforcement to be open and honest without putting itself in unwarranted legal jeopardy but demand law enforcement put itself in warranted legal jeopardy so that truth and progress prevail. For as shown by the case of the repentant Roman Centurion law enforcement officer surrounding Jesus crucifixion (Luke 23:47; Matthew 27:54) can have a change of mind, heart, behavior when presented with the undeniable truth.
I see it as similar to when I was in the military. I had to decide if I was able to not only take a life but also give my life if the situation properly called for it. So when one becomes a police officer he or she must be prepared to not only take a life when properly warranted but also risk giving his or her life in order to protect all citizens including the citizens he or she is confronting. Is that hard for the individual to do? Yes, it is. But that is one reason our nation is rooted in the Constitutional notion that community of citizens hold each other accountable no matter what position one holds in society.
I am certain there are some racist cops of all races in America. However, not every incident is strictly a case of racism. This is evident by the fact that white cops kill white people and black cops kill black people. I know percentiles should be considered. Yet, in considering percentiles we must not neglect to remember incidents like Connecticut’s Yale University case where community protests occurred claiming two responding black policemen behaved incorrectly which led to the shooting of a black female who thankfully did recover.
In May 2019 a Baytown (Houston area) Texas police officer fatally shot a reportedly mentally ill woman (Pamela Turner) when she took his taser as he was struggling with her. The woman shouted that she was pregnant; however, authorities have said their later examination of her shows she was not pregnant.
In any case, once again, it seems the police officer should have retreated until help arrived. The woman should have not been combative; however, the police officers should cease trying to contain a combative person alone as long as the person can be rendered harmless until help arrives. A video of the Baytown, Texas Incident may be found here.
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