Just sayin’

Many Australians are outraged today.

The news of the shooting of an Australian woman in the US, outside the Minneapolis home she shared with her fiancé and future stepson is causing puzzlement, wrath, incomprehension, sadness, and yes, outrage is not too strong a word.

She’d called the police to report a potential sexual assault taking place near the house. When the police arrived, she approached the car, dressed in her night clothes and clutching her phone. She spoke through the driver’s window. And then the driver’s partner shot her. Twice. Past his partner’s face and through the open window, killing her.

Oh please. From all accounts she was not an aggressive, mouthy woman who would refuse to obey the police’s usual charming barked orders. She was 40, blonde, slight, and dressed in pyjamas. Not an obvious suspect in a potential sexual assault. She was holding a mobile phone. Not a gun. Not even vaguely like a gun, and certainly not like a gun if you’re sitting only a few feet away. And she approached the police, the so-called guardians of the community, for help, instead of running away, as a criminal would.

Attention, Minneapolis Police. This is NOT a gun…

Conveniently enough, the officers involved had not obeyed policy and switched on their body cameras. The dash cam wasn’t working/failed to record the incident. Funny, that.

Nobody is saying anything. The police force have not expressed regret at this incident, the officer in question has offered his condolences but not apologies, and asks us to respect his privacy. WTF? How hard is it to make an announcement that a terrible mistake has been made, that investigations will be carried out with all due haste and the results announced promptly?

Officer Noor, who has presumably received thorough training in telling the difference between helpful members of the public and criminals, appears to have committed criminally negligent homicide. He took out his gun and shot – twice – a woman who was not threatening him, who was trying to be a good citizen, and who had not attacked him. He made the decision to kill her rather than disable her by some other means. He had a professional duty to be sure of his facts and differentiate between the public and the perpetrator. Protect and serve, yes? This is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

Criminally negligent manslaughter occurs where there is an omission to act when there is a duty to do so, or a failure to perform a duty owed, which leads to a death. The existence of the duty is essential because the law does not impose criminal liability for a failure to act unless a specific duty is owed to the victim. It is most common in the case of professionals who are grossly negligent in the course of their employment. 

That sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Just sayin’…..

 

More reading on the subject of police culture in the US:

https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21636044-americas-police-kill-too-many-people-some-forces-are-showing-how-smarter-less

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/7/17/15985442/minneapolis-police-shooting-justine-damond-video

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42 thoughts on “Just sayin’

  1. jmcheney says:

    I am only typing “like” to let you know I’ve read this. I am horrified. It seems the police are out of control here. This is a hideous miscarriage of what we expect when we call the police to come & help us. Who are these supposedly trained officers, public defenders? Barbarians? Trigger happy monsters? Cowardly bullies? I am mortified for this murder & hate it for my country in the eyes of the world, as I have been time after time in the past few years. I am so so sorry, as an American woman who would want to call the police to come & help in just such an instance, & terribly grieved for this woman, her family, her country, Australia, my country the USA, & for us as members of this human race.

    • katechiconi says:

      Our police are no angels, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have deployed a deadly weapon in this case. Taser, yes, perhaps, handgun, no. But I think what is stunning most people here is the refusal by the police to say anything, not an apology, an explanation or word of regret. Where is the spokesperson stepping up to say “We’re sorry. We got it wrong. We’ll work hard to make sure it never happens again”? I don’t believe anyone here blames the people of the USA, but isn’t it fair to say something went wrong; with the screening of officers, with the training of officers, with the accountability of officers, with the culture that promotes a shoot first, ask later policy…?

  2. Just sickening. I am glad that I live in a country where guns (in the hands of the police and public) and relatively rare.

    • katechiconi says:

      If you read the other two links at the bottom, it’s clear that guns in the hands of the police is not the problem so much as guns in the hands of the public…. Countries with armed police but no easy public access to firearms have low rates of deaths at the hands of the police.

  3. Shocking and unnerving. As you say if it was a terrible and tragic mistake that should be acknowledged immediately.

  4. tialys says:

    It seems the police will generally stick together to protect their own whatever country they are in.

  5. knitnkwilt says:

    Alas, to apologize for something having gone wrong would be to admit guilt. Instead of that they will be creating reasons to have feared for their lives. I am so tired of reading the same story over and over, only the names get changed. And so few are found guilty. And yes, guns in the hands of the public is a large part of the problem, but the NRA has more power than the people who want gun control.

    • katechiconi says:

      The coroner has ruled it homicide, so *someone* committed it. My money’s on the guy with a discharged weapon… I wonder if the rank and file of the NRA would feel the same if it were their own family members.

      • knitnkwilt says:

        I’d not yet read the coroner’s ruling; that is a start, though I’ll not be surprised to hear the usual defense. As to NRA, their logic is beyond belief.Their solution is usually “more guns.”

  6. nanacathy2 says:

    Just heard it on Breakfast news, still trying to understand what happened. I feel so sorry for the family. Beyond belief.

  7. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    I am shocked by this !!! Americans and guns is not a good combination !!!!They shoot first and then think !

  8. We here in the US are also horrified, by this and every other incident of fatal police brutality. Although it’s clear Justine Ruszczyk wasn’t, it shouldn’t matter if she or anyone else was aggressive or mouthy. Police are called when people are at their worst —- afraid, angry, or distraught —- and at bare minimum should understand how to calm people, get the facts, and deal with the situation using the least amount of force necessary. They are supposed to be officers of the peace working for all members of the community to make it a safe, law-abiding place. Instead, too many police

    So now this lively, caring, dedicated woman who called police to get help for a fellow human being is dead. And again people in the US need to look at what kind of culture we’ve created both within police forces and in our larger communities to let even one such incident happen.

    • katechiconi says:

      You’re absolutely right. And I think what angers most people is that complete lack of empathy, contrition or sense of urgency in communicating the facts on the part of the police. They have a hard job to do, but in this case, they’ve been their own worst enemies.

  9. manicmumdays says:

    I agree 100% with this post, Kate!!
    It never ceases to amaze and dismay me when I hear of officer shootings over there. Their “2nd amendment rights to bear arms” that they bleat on about seems to me like it needs a HUGE shake up! I can’t believe they don’t see an issue with this. Or for that matter, the way they have (not) reacted with swift regret and apologies to the victim’s family 😦

    • katechiconi says:

      Times have changed since that amendment was introduced in 1791… A police force, a more peaceful (in theory) society… The right to bear arms was design for national defence in the form of a militia, not to allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to pull a gun when someone pisses him off.
      From the outside, it appears an ill-trained officer lost his head and made a tragic mistake. Regret and apology are the least of it…

  10. kymlucas says:

    Kate, I wish I could understand this tragedy, but I can’t. How and why it happened – as you said, no one is saying anything, which leads me to believe even they know there’s no way to spin this. I have known and respect several officers whom I know risk their lives every day, but I suspect, as in every profession, there are those who should not be there. Still, when you’re dealing with human lives, it seems to me the bar should be set much higher. Another sad day in the US, and I’m sorry your countrywoman got caught in the crossfire of our culture.

    • katechiconi says:

      Accidents and misunderstandings, over-reactions and mistakes happen every day. It is a tragedy, but it has been made so much worse by a total lack of acknowledgement: of error, of tragedy, of grief and responsibility. The police of Minneapolis have created their own PR nightmare, and now they’re under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Police officers do a hard and thankless job, but with the power of their office comes responsibility.

  11. dayphoto says:

    WHOA! This is Terrible! Horrible! and very sad!

    • katechiconi says:

      I just can’t conceive what she might have said or done which made the officer think she was a danger… I can only conclude the officer either panicked or simply had a rush of anger because she failed to instantly obey an order. Either way, he did not behave appropriately or in accordance with his training. The fact that neither of them had their cameras on is another indicator of a failure to act correctly.

  12. A ghastly tragedy all round. What Jan said struck a very real chord for me – we live (here in South Africa) in a society that is filled with tension and fear, especially in the urban areas, and perhaps that is a similar context for those US cops (I wouldn’t know, so can’t speculate). We are a very trigger-happy country, and absolutely anyone can get their hands on a gun quite cheaply and easily, no questions asked. It’s a nightmare.
    But there are so many loose ends with this story that just don’t add up – just ghastly.

    • katechiconi says:

      Coming originally from a country where neither the population nor the police carry arms, to a country where the police are armed and the population has voluntarily given up its arms after a national tragedy, I find it horrifying and incomprehensible that anyone would feel it necessary to own a weapon for either offence or self-protection. Surely it’s a sign that civilisation has failed if we cannot resolve matters more peacefully. That’s probably very naive of me, but that’s the world I’d like to live in…

      • Yes, a high level of crime (whichever country it is) is indeed a sign of society’s failure to deal properly and fairly with issues like unemployment, poverty, lack of education, drug use, etc. It is horrifying. This is our world now.

  13. magpiesue says:

    I don’t have words beyond what has already been expressed. I can’t even imagine what that officer thought he was reacting to when he pulled his firearm. Or why he felt it necessary to do that at all. This whole episode is shameful and sickening.

    • katechiconi says:

      They’re speculating that he thought her phone was a gun… But how do you mistake a phone in a well lit area in the hand of a woman standing right next to the car…? And how incredibly rash to fire right past your partner, and in a confined space.

      • It sounds like he cracked under pressure. Just freaked out with panic.

      • katechiconi says:

        The investigators have now divulged that he’s lawyered up and isn’t making any kind of statement. His partner, on the other hand, says there was a loud noise when they pulled up, Justine approached the car, and Noor then shot her through the open window. They are speculating that the loud noise was fireworks….

  14. Lynda says:

    Kate, I live here and I was stunned too! Everyone is talking about this tragedy and it is all to weird for words. This is not a defense of the what happened in this instance, but here in the states it has been open season on police officers. I think the women and men in blue have all become a bit jumpy.

    In New York this month a woman officer with three kids was shot while sitting in her patrol car. Guy just walked up to the window and shot her in the head. No reason; just did it. We have a lot of crazies on the streets here.

    When all is revealed I think we will find out that the officer in this case was a newbie… and got scared spitless when she walked up to the window. This person should not be in uniform and I hope he is removed from the force.

    Insanity.

    • katechiconi says:

      I think maybe there are crazies on the street, and different kinds of crazies in some squad cars. But the craziest thing of all is the sheer numbers of people running around with weapons in their hands. No great surprise, then, that the police get twitchy.

  15. rutigt says:

    Sometimes I wonder where the world is going. There are no longer respect for each other. It seems like some people take their chance to shoot whenever they can. It makes me so sad and scared.

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