A Chicago police officer was just put on trial in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. The officer ended up being found guilty of 2nd degree murder.
I have thought more about this situation and believe that I would not have convicted him and here are the following items and reasons to note.
I do believe that police at times err or act carelessly or at times lie. I would be willing to convict for some kind of manslaughter an officer who made mistakes, if and when that was appropriate.
There was a recent shooting in Arizona and the officer had a rifle and his victim or victims was told by the officer to crawl on his knees towards the officer. Crawling on his knees resulted in pulling down the pants or shorts and that led the victim to reach for his waistband to pull it up. But reaching for the waistband is also a sign of danger and the officer then shot and killed the guy.
That situation is like super bad police malpractice.
Cases of police use of excessive force but when it is seemingly nonlethal force are even more common and almost never prosecuted.
In the Jason van dyke situation, McDonald was approaching the position of the officer at a glancing angle. The testimony and remembrance of van dyke that McDonald was approaching was correct, but should be understood as van dyke’s correct, incorrect or distorted perception and memory of the “imperfect,” glancing approach.
I am on Mercer Island. Someone is using part of the bridge to build a train thing that will go from Seattle to Bellevue. If and when there is a train on the tracks and train is coming to Mercer Island, we can say it is approaching my apartment, because the distance is getting less and less as it comes to MI. However, at a certain distance, when the train is on MI, that is the minimum distance we are separated and then, as the train proceeds, the distance between the train and my apartment increase, if the train is continuing.
approach: come near or nearer to (someone or something) in distance.
McDonald was passing by the patrol car and the officers . . . and he was approaching them, but you might call his approach an indirect approach. His walk took him nearer the officers.
van dyke says he says the guy open or flick the knife. You can see this, or something like it on the video, though we do not see the knife itself.
McDonald is walking. His right arm moves back and forth in a mostly natural way, till second 38 of the videoclip we find on the cnn video discussion of it. Then, McDonald moves his right arm forward, faster than normal and brings his arm to an abrupt stop, thereby opening and perhaps locking a gravity or butterfly or certain kinds of knives. Or, if McDonald is doing something else in that second, the action is seemingly aggressive and threatening.
In Illinois and in many other states, if and when a police guy must stop a guy known to be a problem and the guy is using a deadly weapon to effect or aid in his escape, then, the officer is justified in the use of deadly force.
It is a matter of the law and that is clearly what is happening here, which is suggestively confirmed by the previous situations in which McDonald has responded to confrontation by attacking a person or by refusing orders.
Now, the jury did not believe the officer because they claimed that the officer’s testimony and the video did not match up.
That depends on how you define the word “approach.” Rather than to say–as van Dyke and his team did–that the video does not show what “I/van dyke” saw, van dyke *should* have said, McDonald’s walking in the street was a glancing approach towards me up to shortly before I shot him. Reduce or eliminate the conflict between van dyke’s testimony and the dashcam video. Moreover, the video does show the sharp and fast movement of McDonald’s right arm, just before he was shot, and the abrupt stop to it, not by being shot, by McDonald stopping his right arm motion, abruptly for some purpose.
Depending on the knife, that is a motion to open a folding knife or certain butterfly knives.
Now, one *could* say that the police, working as a team, *could* have taken time to more thoroughly surround mcdonald . . . one could say that, in that more perfect situation, with 6 to 10 officers surrounding McDonald, they could have known that any steps by McDonald in any direction would lead to close proximity to an officer and insisted McDonald stop or be shot.
But legally the law does not require that and the law also has to plan ahead for situations in which only 1 or 2 officers are near a suspect and he is leaving the area.
So I would tend to find van dyke not guilty. The other peculiar thing about the jury, so far as they have made comments, is that, they have said, we did not believe the officer’s self-defensive explanation–and they might even be right that officer van dyke had little or no “personal fear” of danger–but none of them, in the news, has a comment on the law as it relates to officers using force on a person who is himself using a deadly weapon or deadly force to escape from officers.
The justice system kind of works. In cases brought against police for use of force, police seem to prevail about 2 to 1 times. The police are not infallible and the system is not infallible.
So, if a person is convicted wrongly, what do you or he do? I believe he should maintain his assertion of the truth, though in this case, I believe that van dyke’s team made mistakes in claiming things were there not found in the dashcam video.
“In War: Resolution,
In Defeat: Defiance,
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will.”