Regardless of what happened in Ferguson last week just before a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, one thing is certain: The officer had absolutely no business shooting the young man.
This has all the looks of a case where the officer was young, hot-headed and racist.
Although the officer hasn’t been identified, we know from the St. Louis County police chief that he had been on the force six years. I think it’s reasonable to assume that this was an officer who had either started with the Ferguson Police Department or, perhaps, had started at an even smaller department and then caught on with the 53-person Ferguson force.
By the way, 50 of those 53 officers are white, and that it a town where more than two-thirds of the city’s 21,000 residents are black.
As for his temperament, the officer apparently demonstrated his lack of restraint immediately upon encountering Brown and his friend Dorin Johnson, 22, as they walked in the street.
“Get the fuck on the sidewalk,” were the officer’s first words, according to Johnson.
Clearly, the officer was pissed off either before he came upon Brown and Johnson or as soon as he saw them committing the audacious act of walking in the street.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, then, that a few moments later — after a few words might have been exchanged, after minimal contact was made or after the two “perps” simply failed to move to the sidewalk — that the officer fired several shots at the unarmed Brown (who might even have had his hands raised as if surrendering) and killed him.
For some people, the key point is going to be whether Brown attempted to grab the officer’s gun while the officer was in the car.
A couple of points need to be made regarding that possible scenario.
First, unless the officer had already drawn his gun, it seems not only unlikely but also nearly impossible for Brown to have reached into the car and attempted to wrestle the officer’s gun from him. If the officer was in the car, you have to presume he was sitting down, which could easily have put the gun out of Brown’s reach, considering that he was outside the car.
So, the officer probably had already drawn the gun. And that makes sense because he had already demonstrated an overreaction to the situation when he camp upon the two.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that before the officer started shooting, Brown did, in fact, attempt to get the gun.
The fact is, he didn’t get it. The officer almost certainly was in control of the situation — certainly the weapon — at all times.
We know that the officer fired several shots, as many as eight or 10. The first was fired inside the police car and the last was fired about 35 feet from the vehicle.
To me, that is extremely strong circumstantial evidence that the officer started shooting very soon and continued shooting while pursuing Brown. If he wasn’t a hot head and he wasn’t a racist, why in the world would he have started shooting? Again, Brown was unarmed — no gun, no knife, no slingshot, not even a rock to throw.
That officer must have felt gratified for a few seconds: In his mind, he had just shown a disrespectful punk who was boss. Yeah, he sure had…
I wonder how long it took for reality to set in…That would be this kind of thought:
“Holy shit, I just shot an unarmed kid who was posing no real threat to me…How the hell am I going to explain this to the chief?”
He had no idea that within a few days, the entire nation would be demanding an explanation.
I’ll make this prediction: The officer will be charged with voluntary manslaughter and will be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison.
This isn’t going to be an O.J. Simpson case; the real perp is going down. Clashing accounts of whether Michael Brown reached for the gun, or even had his hand on it, will not save this hot-headed, racist officer.