Unfortunately, Arlington Police Chief Had No Other Choice

8/12/15
 
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from The Gray Area:

An Arlington, Texas, police officer who shot and killed an unarmed college football player has been fired for “exercising poor judgment,” the city’s police chief said Tuesday. Officer Brad Miller lost his job because of the August 7 incident at a car dealership in Arlington, Police Chief Will Johnson told reporters.

Unfortunately, the police chief had no other choice.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult case and decisions were made here that had a catastrophic outcome,” Johnson said. “I have found several decisions made on the scene troubling.” Speaking at a news conference on Saturday, Johnson said “this incident has not occurred in isolation. But rather it has occurred while our nation has been wrestling with the topics of social injustice, inequities, racism and police misconduct.” “We recognize the importance of these topics,” Johnson said.

This is why Chief Johnson had no other choice. “Policies”, if followed, could possibly have allowed this encounter to end without a fatality. Taylor may have been in jail, but not dead.

Policies not adhered to?

- Officer Miller entered the building without telling other officers.

- Officer Miller did not wait for other officers to assist.

- Officer Miller did not establish an arrest plan which would have included at least 2 other officers when entering the building.

- Officer Miller reacted to Taylor’s aggressive approach with his firearm instead of his tazer.

All these mistakes paint the picture of an unnecessary police shooting and leaves Police Chief Johnson boxed in. But, it is none the less frustrating. Facts & truth don’t matter as much as emotion and perception coming from media headline messages.

Other facts, such as;

- Taylor was inside the dealership.

- Police responded to a 911 call of a burglary in progress about 1 a.m.

Security video released by the dealership shows Taylor vandalizing a vehicle in the parking lot.

– Police have said that he later crashed a Jeep Cherokee through the glass front of the showroom.

– Miller told investigators that after he entered the building, Taylor approached him screaming. Miller and other officers saw a bulge in his shorts, which Miller thought was a weapon.

These other facts are eerily similar to other facts in the highly sensationalized events in Ferguson, Baltimore, etc., which is the frustrating part of the media narrative in these cases. Criminal activity or suspected criminal activity is taking place in each situation, but that does not seem to matter. What matters to the media narrative is police misconduct based on racism (individual and institutional), gun violence, and inequality of police approach.

Where’s the outrage over this police officer video? A police officer approaches a suspect who beats him unconscious with the officer’s gun, while others take videos. No national outrage led by the media. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the template. Though our police officers face this kind of thing every single day!

Media headlines do not report the situation accurately either, instead, headlines, which are the message, report only the media template,

- Officer shoots unarmed teen

- Officer shoots unarmed college football player

- White officer fired who shot unarmed black teen

Why can’t a more accurate headline be written to send a more accurate message, like:

- Teen burglary suspect killed inside dealership at 1am

- Unarmed suspect who crashed a Jeep Cherokee through showroom glass shot and killed by police.

And, of course, the media uses the sweetest photos of the suspect.

Why not a screen shot of what the suspect was up to when he encountered police?

When anyone, of any race, is in the process of breaking the law, they should expect that bad things can happen. Even things like police officers, who are human, shooting too quickly. Therefore, don’t drive a car through a showroom window and attempt to attack a police officer and bad things are less likely to happen. My father gave me this lesson when I was a young boy. Okay, maybe Taylor did not get this lesson or he ignored it, doesn’t matter. It can’t then be okay to vandalize, break into a building and attack cops just because. And, it can’t be race based either. As evidence, even AG Eric Holder’s ‘race baiting’ Justice Department couldn’t find anything to charge police officer Wilson for in Ferguson. Yet protest continue. It can just be a terrible accident. Something that would not have happened if the police officer had followed policies” or, if before that, Taylor had not decided to engage in criminal activity. Where was the first opportunity to not have a fatal incident? Which corrected opportunity is likely to be more successful in stopping fatal mistakes? Obviously the decision to break the law. Once a dangerous and uncertain situation arises, human mistakes can and always will occur. Correcting this all begins with personal responsibility and a culture that uspports sound decision making.

But still, Chief Johnson had no choice but the fire Miller. He then expressed remorse to the Taylor family. The police chief later met with the Arlington chapter of the NAACP and is scheduled to attend a meeting at Cornerstone Baptist Church in south Arlington Wednesday night. The meeting is expected to include Johnson, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams and the pastors of both Taylor and Miller.

All corrective action needs to be taken for mistakes like this by police officers. But, also, all messages from such incidents need to include admonishing the initiating mistake – getting involved in vandalism and burglary. Race is the political media template, but it is not the issue.