I know that this site is dedicated to “all things nerdy.” But since I am a human being with real opinions, we are going to stray from that a bit today.
Unless your head is under a rock, you know social media and news outlets have been overtaken this week by the news that the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death not receiving an indictment for any charges. The internet is still rumbling (rightfully so) about Darren Wilson, another police officer who shot an unarmed man while on duty, who will also not be indicted on any charges. The legal reasoning behind these decisions would be good for its own post (or several), but that is not what this post is about.
It has been pointed out to me that Darren Wilson “did not get up that morning with the intention of shooting anyone.” And perhaps that is true. I would like to believe so anyway, after all, what kind of sick person has murder on their mind as they are finishing their morning coffee and heading out the door?
However, it has also been pointed out to me that now there are two victims: the kid who lost his life that day, and the officer who now has to cope with the fact that he shot someone.
Please, lets get the victimology (a word often used in shows such as CSI), correct in this case. We have one victim. Only one victim. And that is Michael Brown. Michael Brown is dead. And to make it worse, his character has been dragged through the mud and salt rubbed into his family’s wounds. No matter what Michael Brown may or may not have done in the moments leading up to his death, he did not deserve to be shot 6 times and have his body left in the street for 4+ hours, and then thrown in the trunk of a police cruiser.
Eric Garner is also dead. And his death was recorded on video, and will live on in horrific memory thanks to modern technology. Many in a position of power had the means to stop his death. However, no one did. Again, all on video, in all its terrible glory.
I do acknowledge that these officers (and others involved in on duty shootings) may actually have regrets. Maybe even some officers will take on desk jobs instead. Maybe some will leave law enforcement entirely for new careers. However, this does not change the fact that these officers are still alive, unlike Eric Garner, Michael Brown and all others who have died at the hands of a police officer (justified or not). The families of those officers will be able to hug them. The officers and their families can celebrate the upcoming holidays together. These officers likely have a long future ahead of them, and will be able to experience life in all its wonderful and messy glory.
The families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and any others who have died at the hands of police officers face a different future. They can no longer hug their loved ones. The upcoming holidays are sure to be painful. And the victims’ families will forever be left questioning a justice system that has failed them and so many others. They will have so many questions, most of which have no answers. A painful life, in other words.
Officer Darren Wilson, Officer Daniel Pantaleo and all the others involved in cases such as these are not victims. In some cases, they may be sympathetic. However, lets get the victimology correct. Someone such as Darren Wilson, who has collected 500k in “donations” for his supposed legal defense, is not a victim. Neither is Officer Pantaleo. Both of these men are alive and healthy.
Eric Garner, Michael Brown and many others are not alive and healthy. We need to remember this when deciding the victims in cases such as these. Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo will have their voices heard, many times over. But Eric Garner and Michael Brown have been silenced forever. And that is the definition of a true victim: someone who is powerless and unable to make a stand.
RIP, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and all the others who have lost their lives in tragic circumstances such as these. I am sorry that we have failed so miserably as a society. I also hope we figure this out as a society before even more lives are needlessly lost.