The Justine Damond killing: some modest questions

BY TONY BOUZA

Do you want to know why police departments across the breadth of America are screwed up?  Look no further than the July 15, 2017, shooting of Justine Damond—a white woman—by a Minneapolis police officer who is black.

In this ghastly tragedy we encapsulate the nation’s ills.  Race, police accountability and official paralysis.

The kicker here is that the victim—and I use the phrase purposefully—is white and the cop is black.  Had the positions been reversed there would have been, what we in the police world call, black riots.  And officialdom would have reacted with panicky alacrity.  The circumstances, being reversed, afforded the principals the opportunity to temporize, juke and jive and slip and slide.

The Minneapolis Police Department handed off the case to the State’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension—a clear and direct evasion and an admission of lost trust.  The chief appropriately was tossed over it and the mayor might soon be with equal rough justice.

The prosecutor’s imagination must be tortured by the difficulties of convicting cops of anything.

White jurors are notoriously sympathetic of police “actions,” in addition to being quelled by officers in uniform “out there risking their lives for you.”  In a way they are supportive because those jurors send the cops out there to keep blacks in their proper postures of subordination—otherwise labeled racism.  It is an awful public auto de fe.

And let’s not forget the protective power of the police union.

And the prosecutor, who is uniquely allergic to grand juries, evades this path, probably thinking an indictment will be difficult to prosecute and the outcome, a jury trial and an acquittal—more problematic still.  Maybe it will all blow over?  That seems to be the animating strategy.  And the prosecutor, let’s face it, is the very embodiment of Minnesota Nice.

Well, folks.  There’s a downside (and an upside) to Minnesota Nice, and that is that it encourages the suffering of fools gladly.  And, from my privileged perch, I have certainly seen a lot of fools and knaves suffered for insufferable lengths.

Let’s not forget that three officials are responsible for the outcome of this case—the mayor, the police chief and the prosecutor.  What grades have they earned?

There’s also a trifling vetting question.  It relates to the “expedited” hiring of the shooter cop.  What on earth does that mean?  His actions will result in a whopping bill to the city, which you will be good enough to pay.  How profligate is that?

And the music plays on to a pacified, patient, uninformed audience.  A woman lies dead.  Answers are demanded by the event.  Cries to heaven.

Where are they?

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1 Comment

  1. Chris says:

    This article poses no “questions,” only the opinion of one of Minneapolis’ least liked police chief’s in Minneapolis history. Police Officers blame then Chief Bouza’s policies directly, for the murder of Officer Richard P. Miller in 1981. Justine Damond’s killing was not a black vs white shooting. That is ridiculous. That was a shooting by an inexperienced Officer who recklessly shot across the chest of his partner because he was startled and scared. Mr. Bouza’s opinions would stir unrest in our culturally diverse neighborhood and I am personally appalled you as editor would publish such garbage on the front page of your paper.

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