Great events cast their shadows before them. Minneapolis is heading for a reckoning likely to affect every person in the city. The Justine Damond killing, in July 2017, will likely result in a settlement costing citizens three dollars each for every million. The lawyer for the family is Robert Bennet, who I previously described as the Angel of Death.
But the city (like three schmucks merrily paddling down the Niagara River asking, “What is that roar ahead?”) pushes on without much consideration.
Two of the three captains on our ship have been replaced (the mayor and the chief of police) while the third, the county attorney, is back-paddling desperately to cling to office.
And ahead? A waterfall.
Like the paddlers (described by a New York Yiddishism that I hope is seen as analogous)—our merry ship steams full ahead. A dark and menacing giant looms calmly in dark waters.
What might be done?
If you send your servant abroad and h/she commits a crime, your first response is going to be to disavow the action and divorce the miscreant. If you, additionally, punish the criminal, you strengthen your position. That person is not your agent and is on his own.
How do cops differ?
They have a very strong union that knows how to persuade the city’s parents that they should open the coffers. The symbiotic relationship is fueled by political contributions, endorsements, all forms of help and that indispensable addition—schmoozing. Boy, are they good at it, notwithstanding the City Council members’ modest reluctance to be stroked. Right. Having done three prior essays on the Damond case, I won’t belabor the facts.
How to avoid a $10 million settlement that will cost each and every member of your household (even that little toddler) $30?
Step No. 1 is to charge the shooter. Miraculously this has been done, albeit reluctantly. Witness the handwringing, delays and refusal to submit the case to a grand jury.
Step No. 2, charge the partner as an accomplice and make a deal for leniency if he testifies truthfully (a more daunting task than is usually realized).
Step No. 3, get blacks on the jury. Connection is going to be really tough—but essential to mitigating the civil costs of a judgment or settlement.
Step No. 4, in the criminal case, take a plea to lesser charges if guilt and responsibility are admitted.
Step No. 5, in the civil case, do not settle. Even the threat of a trial will reduce the settlement and—if previous steps are followed—the city’s threat to disavow the actions of rogue agents gains heft.
And, I’m sure there are additional points I’ve forgotten or never knew.
The fact is, there is a waterfall ahead and we should hear its roar.
If the city doesn’t know how to control its cops (and it is possible—but there are costs) your pocket is going to be picked again. The city is self-insured. No insurance company in America would take its business, or, if they did, the costs—given the city’s stupidity and cowardice—would prove prohibitively high.
The problem with the waterfall is when the captain goes down with the ship he takes us with him.
Full steam ahead!
And, one final note—the fact is, you are complicit in this idiocy (as I am), because you send these fools to office, keep them there, never ask the right questions, wring your hands in an agony of despair and traipse innocently forward toward a monster looming ahead in the dark waters. It is a painful truism that, in a democracy, you get the government you deserve.