I was shocked earlier this week when I saw Rayshard Brooks’ death was ruled a homicide. I was floored on Wednesday when I heard the officer involved in the shooting was charged with murder and could potentially face the death penalty for his actions.
I want to preface what I’m about to say by recounting a story from a while back. For a few years of my life, I worked pubic safety for a health care facility in Des Moines. We encountered all kinds of situations and issues.
There was one particular individual who had multiple incidents. Initially, it was trespassing. I won’t go into the details, I’ll just say it was warranted based on the safety of staff.
As a public safety officer, I was tasked with locating the individual, finding out why he was on hospital property and advising him of trespass.
In this case, the person committing trespass was a black male adult. I can’t even remember how the first encounter with this individual went, but I remember the next few.
In one of the instances, he essentially accused me of being racist. Race had nothing to do with it. If there were a list of 100 factors in the situation, with 1 being the most relevant and 100 being the least relevant – race would’ve been #101.
What was a factor was the facts. And the facts were, he was guilty of trespassing.
So, let’s look at the Brooks incident. Some facts – he drove drunk, he passed out behind the wheel of his car in the Wendy’s drive-thru, he resisted arrest, he assaulted the police officers, he took one of their weapons, he attempted to flee and he pointed a weapon at the officer.
From the moment the officers went to place handcuffs on Brooks to the moment he was shot, it was about one minute long.
There was little time for officers to really examine what was happening, they were busy trying to simply survive.
I have been involved in incidents with police officers both as someone who was pulled over, someone who was with others who were pulled over and someone who needed assistance from the police.
I have never seen anything go south. Ever. And I’ve been with “diverse” individuals in those circumstances.
What I have witnessed is exactly what I was taught growing up – be respectful, follow the cops commands and don’t be a prick basically.
That doesn’t mean I always think a cop is right. But what I think is irrelevant. In that moment, the cop is the authority figure. Whether I agree or disagree, that fact does not change.
Even if we disagree, then we simply have to wait until it is our turn to put forth our side.
Here is what I’ve never considered – assaulting an officer, resisting arrest or attempting to grab an officer’s weapon.
If I did any of those, I understand I’d be neutralized however the officer saw fit. And, if I got into that situation and initiated the trouble, I would be to blame.
By resisting, not only am I putting myself at risk, I’m also putting the officers at risk of injury (or death).
I have no doubt that the shooting of Brooks is justifiable. If that isn’t a justifiable shooting, then I don’t know what is.
Justifiable, mind you, doesn’t mean I’m glad it happened. Nor does it mean it was the only solution. But the officer who fired his gun had a right to make it home to his family that night. He did not initiate a fight. He did not drive drunk. He did not pass out in the Wendy’s drive-thru. He did not resist arrest. He did not assault anyone. He did not try to steal someone else’s weapon.
He did his job.
Now he faces the death penalty.
Again, it all happened in about a minute.
I am deeply concerned about the future of this country if brave men and women decide there is no point in policing. That keeping our communities safe isn’t worth the risk they’re being asked to take.
I’m not glad Brooks died. I wish it didn’t happen that way. I wish he would’ve just accepted his punishment for his crime.
But I understand why the officer fired his gun. And I don’t know many – if any – people who would not have in the same situation.
There is no justification for George Floyd. That should go without saying. But the Brooks shooting can certainly be justified.
I am not sure why anyone would wake up in the morning and show up to serve as a police officer. They are unnecessarily vilified and they are not given the proper respect they deserve.
Are they perfect? No, they’re human.
But they do a pretty darn good job.
I for one am grateful for their service and hope and pray for their safety each day. I don’t know how our country can ever return to a time where there is respect and honor for authority (after all, many kids grow up in homes without a father figure “authority” in the home) across the board.
But I know where it starts for my children and their future. It starts with me. I may not always agree with a police officer, but I know enough to not try to injure him or her.
If you also appreciate our police officers, it is imperative you let them know – especially right now.