We Should Expect More: “Thoughts On The Death of Michael Brown, The Police Response, and The Fallout.”

Photo courtesy of the Washington Post

The shooting of Michael Brown is a tragedy. When someone takes the life of another, no one wins. The family and friends of Mr.Brown have my deepest sympathies and prayers as they struggle with this tragic death of someone they loved.

The police officers involved also have my deepest sympathies and prayers, as their lives will never be the same. Our officers get up everyday, put on a gun and vest, kiss their own kids goodbye and walk out into some of the mostdifficult situations our society has to offer. There are many police officers killed every year, killed while protecting us and the peace that we hold so dear in the United States of America.

The details of August 9th, 2014 that led to the shooting death of Mr. Brown are heartbreaking, but the details are also vitally important. The USA Today reported that,

“…Brown physically assaulted the officer, and during a struggle between the two, Brown reached for the officer’s gun. One shot was fired in the car followed by other gunshotsoutside of the car.”

Now as a former Law Enforcement Chaplain I understand the dangers and difficulties our men and women who wear the badge face, and they do it of their own choosing. However,because one has chosen their profession to be one of protecting and serving their community and enforcing the law, does not mean they give up their own rights.

Let’s consider the events of that night as they are reportedin a different setting, namely with you or me being the “other person” involved. We are just ordinary citizens, no badge, just a right to protect ourselves. Now, imagine you (or me) and Mr. Brown met on a sidewalk and for whatever reason an altercation arose and Mr. Brown assaulted you and during the struggle Mr. Brown realizes you have a gun (I carry a gun everyday). Mr. Brown begins to reach for you gun as the struggle continues. You begin to realize that if Mr. Brown gets a hold of your weapon you will probably not go home tonight to tuck into bed those kids you kissed goodbye this morning….what do you do? It comes down to your life or his…what do you do? Most people, including me, would do everything they could to protect themselves. Now, does a badge mean those who wear it have lost the right to protect themselves, the same right that the rest of us enjoy asAmericans? Of course not, but to listen to and/ or read the media coverage surrounding this tragedy, one would believe that the officer had no right to be the one who went home that night. I beg to differ.

Notwithstanding the above, the officer not only has the samerights you and I have, he is sworn to uphold the law and to enforce the law,the ones he agrees with and maybe some he does not. He is bound by duty to enforce what our legislators have deemed as law, the people we vote in office to represent us.

Admittedly, I do not know how the events unfolded that night, the reports from the police department say that the officer tried to exit his vehicle and Mr. Brown pushed the door closed and then the struggle began at which time Mr. Brown began to fight with the officer and made advances on the officers weapon. Maybe this is what happen and maybe it isn’t, I’m sure the FBI investigation will reveal what happened that night, but I do know the Revised Statutes (the law) of the State of Missouri reads:

“A person commits the crime of resisting or interfering with arrest,detention, or stop if, knowing that a law enforcement officer is making an arrest, or attempting to lawfully detain or stop an individual or vehicle, or the person reasonably should know that a law enforcement officer is making an arrest or attempting to lawfully detain or lawfully stop an individual or vehicle, for the purpose of preventing the officer from effecting the arrest,stop or detention, the person:

(1) Resists the arrest, stop or detention of such person by using or threatening the use of violence or physical force or by fleeing from such officer;or
…..

Picture courtesy of App Shopper

2. This section applies to:

(1) Arrests, stops, or detentions,with or without warrants;
….
4. It is no defense to a prosecution pursuant to subsection 1 of this section that the law enforcement officer was acting unlawfully in making thearrest. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to bar civilsuits for unlawful arrest.”

In short, you must comply with a peace officer’s attempts to arrest, detain or stop you. If theofficer has made a mistake in identity or some other mistake, the falsely arrested, detained, or stopped can seek justice in court. Maybe the officer involved did make some mistakes, I DON”T KNOW, but I do know the law states that Mr. Brown was to follow the orders of the officer, and definitely not get into a physical altercation with the officer. The MissouriRevised Statutes also reads:

“A person commits the crime of assault of a law enforcement officer… if such person:

(1) Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical injury to a law enforcement officer…by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;” or “by means other than a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument…”

The events following the death of Mr. Brown have been equally disturbing. The rioting and mayhem that has ensued are appalling. While many people affected by the death of Mr. Brown have practiced their rights to demonstrate and voice their concern over the events of that night, however there have been many others who have acted selfish, childish, and ridiculous. The actions of those self-seeking thugs have not advanced the cause of making sure there is no corruption within the events surrounding Mr. Brown’s death. Conversely, the riots, looting (otherwise known as stealing) and foolish destroying of others property is harming the efforts to find answers and potential resolutions for the future to minimize the number of tragedies such as this.

So, what should we learn from all the incidents surrounding the death of Mr. Brown? While there are probably hundreds of things we should learn, I can think of three that standout to me.

1. The killing of any American by another American is a tragedy, even when the person had a right to defend him or herself.

2. Our laws are in place for the greater good and must be followed absolutely if we are to live without complete anarchy and chaos.

3. The fix for what we might consider as unfair laws or laws that overstep what the government and governmental agencies should be allowed to do must happen in elections and in court, not street brawls, fighting those who are charged to enforce the law, or stooping to the idiocy of actions such as rioting.

So, I finish where I began; the family and friends of Mr.Brown have my deepest sympathies and prayers as they struggle with this tragic death of someone they loved. The police officers involved also have my deepest sympathies and prayers as they will be scrutinized and threatened, even if they did everything right.

As Americans we should demand more. We actually have the right to demand more…more of our young people…more of our leaders and people with authority…and maybe most importantly, more of ourselves…

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One Response to “We Should Expect More: “Thoughts On The Death of Michael Brown, The Police Response, and The Fallout.””

  1. Whether Black, White, or Green…Man or Woman…AMERICANS Should Agree With This! | So, This Pastor and Lawyer walk into the BAR Says:

    […] a recent post I shared some of my thoughts about the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri.  Mr. O’Reilly (like […]

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