Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Portland Police are the target. I have to comment on this. Here in Portland another Officer of the Law is under attack for shooting and killing a motorist that had been pulled over for a small violation. I have now read the article at OregonLive and seen coverage on the news. Both are sensationalist and incomplete. Or rather there is too much there. I realize the family of the dead guy is upset and wants to know what happened and why, but the Oregonian and the TV news spends a lot of time getting reactionary responses from family and friends of the dead guy, while the Police Dept just stands at any mike the reporters offer and refuses to say much because they are still investigating.
Won't someone please offer some support for the police here? There are many fishy things about this encounter that make the cops involved look bad, like the fact that they pulled him over for not using his turn signal 100 feet before his turn, or that they got hyperactive while not even seeing a gun. But most of us don't know what the life of an officer is like. In truth I hate stories like this one, because it really takes away from the fact that these guys keep the streets pretty safe for the rest of us and put their life on the line while doing it.
Here are the facts of the case that got pretty skimpy treatment by the press. The dead guy was driving a Mitsubishi Diamante, which is a pretty nice car, that was not his (Story does not say whose it was). He did not have a license either. These things together might make the cops think 'Stolen car.' That makes the driver a possible felon(even though the proven crimes up to this point are only the license and the turn signal, both misdemeanors). Even for the license issue, the police have the option to detain the driver, and that's what they tried to do. When you get pulled over by a cop, everyone knows, or should know, that you ALWAYS keep your hands in view of the officer, and you obey his requests.
Further into the article, and as a coda to the TV news story, it becomes apparent that the dead guy has a serious record. Felony record for burglary, drug possession (cocaine) and gun possession, and he was on parole at the time of his death. Did the cops know this? By reading the article talking about his previous arrests I'm not surprised that he resisted, but you think he would have learned his lesson. It's disappointing that the police in question fired their weapons. They are trained to use all sorts of methods to get a suspect into custody before pulling their weapon out. Situations like this do require critical investigations to see where the mistakes occurred.
But I'm willing to believe this was just a mistake or an accident, not 'murder' as the quotes in the article would have you believe.

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