Two Perspectives on Tamir Rice
A couple worthwhile pieces on Tamir Rice. The first is from JayFromBrooklyn, who was not itching to come to the defense of the police, but nonetheless came to the conclusion that the non-indictment was just:
By pointing a real looking gun at people in a public area, Tamir Rice classified himself as an active shooter. He may or may not have realized how threatening he looked, after all he was only 12. The police reacted to the threat by confronting him, to protect the people they were sworn to at the risk of their own lives. His reaction to being confronted was to act more threatening, again whether he realized or not. It is a tragic loss and we all wish it could have been prevented somehow, not least the cops themselves who now have to live with themselves knowing they killed an unarmed child.
Shoebart wrote a really good piece looking at the justness of the policy itself, and the cost of a second:
The cost of a second. Had Officer Loehmann waited an additional half second to second, what would have happened? It would have become clear whether Rice was in fact reaching for his gun, reaching his hands into the air as being commanded, or simply raising his hands in reflex being confronted by a man with a gun pulled hopping out of a car in an instant. The family maintains, based on a video expert hired by them, that Rice’s hands were in his pockets and that he was raising them. The prosecution asserts that Rice’s hands were moving to his waistband to retrieve his gun. I believe the discrepancy in accounts alone created a question of fact that should have been resolved in a court of law because the entire case turns on that question. I have watched and rewatched the video numerous times. It is impossible to tell what is really going on. It is possible Loehmann is correct (though perhaps only luckily so.) It is possible that Loehmann was incorrect but reasonably interpreting Rice’s movements. It is possible Leohmann is incorrect and unreasonably interpeted Rice’s movements. A mistaken belief that there was a threat does not a a threat make. Was Rice’s arm twitch and movement enough to justify the use of deadly force? There are people who say Yes, it clearly was justified (which I think is impossible to determine from the video). There are people who say it was essentially a coin flip and what are you going to do? But it matters because the difference is whether Loehmann was negligent or not and justified in taking a life. We can’t lose sight of that. The standard is not “What would an ordinarily scared person do in these circumstances?” But rather “Did Loehmann objectively reasonably believe his life was in danger?” Except that for police the standard seems to be lowered to “It was a close call so we err on the side of justifiable use of force.” (In fact, in Wisconsin leading up to this case, internal reviews found that every single police use of deadly force was justified.) That standard cannot be allowed to stand.
[Ed note: The second blockquote was gramatically altered to hyperlink rather than place a raw link in the text.]