In August and in October 2017, I wrote essays on the Justine Damond shooting in Minneapolis in these pages. I called it murder and criticized the mayor, police chief and prosecutor. The first two are gone—not, I’m confident, as a result, but following a vague chiasma of fecklessness— and the third has now charged the officer with murder.
Prosecutor Freeman now faces the daunting task of convicting a cop of a crime. Testi-lying will be in full flower and white jurors will be very—excessively—sympathetic. “We’re laying our lives on the line for you,” officers in uniform will uniformly testi-lie. “I was in fear for my life,” the cops will say.
What is to be done?
There are a number of answers to this horrifyingly unique American dilemma, viz.,
1) Prosecutor Freeman needs a credible (been there, done that) expert witness to describe the real issues.
2) The partner should be charged as an accomplice and offered the out of testifying against his associate. From what I’ve gathered, he hasn’t been a model of helpfulness.
3) The issue of “fear for his life” must be attacked, and what a cop feels is bullshit. It’s the objective reality that matters. Was there real (as opposed to imagined) danger? Did Damond have a gun or other weapon? Can his legitimate danger be defined as relating to the case? Did the cop have his gun out and in his lap? If so, it is an unimaginable breach of protocol, and he should have been additionally charged (in disciplinary actions) as failing to safeguard his weapon.
4) Notwithstanding the counterintuitive nature of it all, I think it vitally important that the jury contain some black males who would bring healthy skepticism to the police testimony.
The Damond family has hired the Angel of Death as their attorney. Clutch your wallet, it’s about to be emptied. And, indeed, why should you pay for another’s misdeeds? Is all sense of responsibility foresworn when a citizen dons police blue? In what other human endeavor in America are we all charged for another’s egregious acts?
The Damond case has a long way to go, but, so far, at every single step of the way, officialdom has stumbled. We pay dearly for these mistakes. Is there the slightest evidence the new mayor, new police chief and old prosecutor have gained a smidgen of insight? Count me amongst the skeptical or, perhaps, among the naive turkeys.
Finally, in a very real sense, I am tempted to name you—dear readers—as the prime culprit. You elevate turkeys to high office, but you don’t hold them to account.