During the Trayvon Martin tragedy, one question lingered in the back of the head: what if his killer, George Zimmerman, had been a police officer? Now we know.
There have been exceptions to the narrative, where an officer had to go to trial over a killing committed under shady circumstances. There was Johannes Mehserle, the killer of Oscar Grant. He did get indicted, did stand trial, and did get convicted. Though his conviction, and sentence, did not even qualify as a slap on the wrist. It was more like a wagging finger intoning a gentle “now, now.” But Mehserle’s killing of Oscar Grant had too many witnesses with cellphones for there not to have been an indictment. We all saw what happened on that BART platform that New Year’s Day.
There was the Rodney King four, a small subset of the group that savagely brutalized Rodney King. They had to stand trial, though of course all were found not guilty. But here again, there was the lone video, which showed the world what happened. To have not indicted someone would have looked quite ridiculous.
Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown away from cellphone cameras or other recording devices. He had only a small audience of witnesses, all of whose accounts the prosecutor and grand jury discounted. Had Wilson been wearing a camera, things may have happened differently. Had George Zimmerman been filmed, things may have happened differently. Sans video, we now know what happens.
Prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch feigned concern while delivering the no indictment decision. However, his astounding, 20-minute word salad, mushed together with the biggest wad of bafflegab imaginable, lacked compassion, lacked justice. His calls for peace and respect for the rule of law and for protesters to voice their concerns openly seemed contradictory and patronizing.
Protesters would rather not be protesting. They’d rather that this whole affair had never happened. We’d all rather that Michael Brown were home with his parents. But he’s not. He’s dead. And his killer will not have to answer for his actions because he’s a police officer and because no cameras caught what happened. It’s as simple as that. No word salad, no detailed description of cherry-picked facts can alter this sad realty, or bring justice to an unjust situation.
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