The Thin Blue Line Between “Necessary Force” and Getting Away With Murder

Rueters is reporting city officials in Seattle, Washington “agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of a Native American woodcarver (John Williams) fatally shot by a white cop (Ian Burk) in a confrontation that stoked racial tensions and helped spark a federal probe of Seattle’s police force… The settlement document states that $1.25 million will be paid to Williams’ estate and $250,000 paid to his mother.”

Rueters further reports, “A police firearms review board deemed the August 2010 shooting of John Williams, 50, unjustified, ruling that although he was intoxicated at the time he posed no threat ‘of serious harm’ to the officer.” However prosecutors chose not to bring criminal charges against Ian Burk due to “insufficient evidence of criminal intent or malice.“

Sadly, this is not the only case – or even one of handful of cases – of someone literally getting away with murder because they wear a uniform with a badge. David Klinger, author of “Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s Eye View on Deadly Force” has discovered that on-duty police who shoot citizens are prosecuted less than 2 percent of the time – though sometimes it is “necessary” for a police officer to use deadly force. However, when reading articles stating police fired 33 rounds to kill a puppy, a single officer fired seven rounds on an unarmed man or that police fired 50 rounds on a car of unarmed men leaving a bachelor party; even the most ardent support of those “sworn to serve and protect” are forced to admit that the “boys in blue” sometimes step over the line! And that line has been crossed many times. Seven year old Aiyana Jones was killed as she slept on a couch at 3am by a SWAT team that burst into the wrong apartment; no charges were filed. Indianapolis Police Officer David Bisard was on duty, driving an Metro Police cruiser when he plowed into a group of four riders on three motorcycles stopped at a red light – one rider was killed & two others critically injured. Bisard was found to be intoxicated, though no charges were filed because “the blood test had been mishandled and no other evidence supported the DUI charge.” It is reported that in the United Kingdom “no police officer has been convicted by the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] in 17 years, despite over 700 deaths in custody or following police contact.”

The BadgerHerald reports, “skewing the law in favor of police officers is the fact that they are often personally acquainted with district attorneys that try their cases. They have worked with the DA’s on investigations in the past and have forged relationships with them. When trying a case where the victim isn’t alive to give their side of the story, it’s easy for a district attorney to side with a police officer they know personally whose argument is self-defense.” Someone or some group needs to hold the police accountable, especially when they get away with murder.