There was even a film crew on hand to film for a reality show about murder investigations. Weekley says that another SWAT member had thrown a flash-bang grenade, which temporarily blinded him. That’s when he fired the shot that killed Aiyana who was asleep on the couch in the front room of the house.
Early in October, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway granted a motion which Weekley’s attorney had filed, arguing for the dismissal of the felony charge he faced in the young girl’s death.
After the dismissal, the only charge Weekley faced, was a relatively minor misdemeanor charge of “careless discharge of a firearm causing death.”
I’m guessing that means that the SWAT raid did NOT result in the capture of the suspect, or indeed any other felony suspects, including incidentally discovered drugs or what have you.
If it had, Aiyana’s death would have been pinned on the felon, and the cop would never even have faced charges.
Which makes her death all the more tragic, because it was yet another SWAT raid that came up empty handed, but dead bodied.
Also: How the hell is “careless discharge of a firearm causing death” a misdemeanor?
Because they’re the police.
I’m watching the news the other day and I see a clip of “Morning Joe” Scarborough talking about the football team that did the “hands up don’t shoot” gesture before the game and he’s saying how this is too much - that Ferguson isn’t an example of widespread police misconduct. And yet these cases happen every day - cops who brutalize and shoot to kill blacks at far higher rates than whites. The over militarized police “forces” that carry out armed raids with little reason or concern for civilian casualties.
The media just doesn’t get it; Ferguson isn’t about Michael Brown, and the more he is used as a (bad) example, the less people understand the bigger issue. It will be sad if a year from now we only remember the name of Michael Brown and not Aiyana’s. But unfortunately I think it’s inevitable.
I wonder how many white cops/attorneys/judges are going to think this is the perfect week to find white men not guilty of shooting black people because Ferguson was able to do it despite the media coverage…instead of considering the possibility that throwing more kerosene on a righteous fire is probably not the best idea.
And now the Saint Louis PD and the Rams are arguing about whether the Rams apologized over that or not.
The other odd thing (aside from shooting civilians being punishable by three repetitions of ‘oops, my bad’) is how these sorts of incidents never seem to bring the use of SWAT teams into question:
Officer Tacticool says that he didn’t mean to shoot the kid; but he was blinded by his own side’s flashbang (and apparently decided to do some shooting anyway).
Now, if this had been a situation where a SWAT team was justified, having at least one officer blinded by his own team during entry could easily have gotten one or more officers killed. The whole point of flashbangs and overwhelming force is the theory that guys with guns are waiting to try to kill you as you come in. Had there been any, screwing up a breach like that could easily have turned lethal(for them, obviously it did in any case).
So this would seem to raise a question: If the use of SWAT tactics is sincere, actually founded on a belief in the risk of imminent violent response(that can’t be dealt with by other means), then should this defense not prompt rather a lot of grave examination of what is wrong with the SWAT team? The defense was, more politely put, “I screwed up so badly that I would have gotten myself and possibly my teammates killed had there actually been any hostiles on site.”
In the absence of any grave concern among the training and tactics people within the department, how can we conclude that the use of overwhelming force is actually based on genuine concern? Grievous tactical failures aren’t really an issue if you don’t actually think that you’ll run into armed(and dangerous) opposition; but, in that case, using a SWAT team to do the job is a serious problem.
Nobody ever seems to answer this question, or even try to handwave it away.
It isn’t wildly surprising; but the amount of butthurt about the Rams “hands up don’t shoot” thing just screams ‘methinks he doth protest too much’.
This is America, after all. Celebrities doing weird, tasteless, sometimes inflammatory things for attention and/or because they can is too routine to even mention, except among professional ‘journalists’ who are dedicated precisely to mentioning all the celebrities doing weird things for attention.
If we really thought that Ferguson was all-over-and-done-with, totally-clean-cut-exoneration, definitely-not-an-instance-of-a-wider-problem, then some football players gesticulating about it would be about as noteworthy as some football players being 9/11 truthers or having an oddball theory about the Kennedy assassination. Worth a few inches in the tabloids, sure; but just not very interesting.
That has…not exactly… been the tone of the reaction, to say the least.
The ACLU is paying attention, and has done a LOT or research on the subject. But most media is not really interested in following the story.
Well, good on the Rams’ vice president for sticking up for their First Amendment rights. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if they had been thrown under the bus.
Indeed, the ACLU does good work with pushing those sorts of points even when they aren’t popular. My surprise is more that this kind of defense doesn’t make the gung-ho enthusiasts of militarized policing uneasy.
Even if you are practically a caricature of blind support for police oppression of ‘those animals’ we have to keep off the street, and are in favor of anything that allegedly improves officer safety as they ‘do that tough, dangerous, job keeping us safe’, and whatnot, shouldn’t a case where the police pretty much said “We totally screwed up a breach and clear, had there actually been any risk to us we’d be in boxes.” give you pause?
Sure, this raises the usual issues for those who actually do care about civil liberties; but even if you don’t it raises the distinct prospect that ‘Our Troops’ are dangerously incompetent and only avoided death by virtue of lacking actual enemies. That seems like something that would worry me if I were an enthusiast of heavy-handed police activity.
Aiyana isn’t forgotten, and probably won’t be forgotten in Detroit.
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