I fear that I have to interrupt my Billy Strayhorn tribute posts to make an important announcement.
16 shots equals sadism.
Over a year after Laquan McDonald, a 17-year old black kid, was shot and killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, a white cop, under very suspicious circumstances, video of this shooting has been released and first degree murder charges have been filed against Van Dyke. Here is a (graphic) description of the video, as I heard narrated by Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” program. I cannot bear to watch the video myself. (Nor will I link to it; you can google it and find it yourself.)
The video shows Van Dyke shooting Mr. McDonald once as he was walking away from the police, causing him to spin around and fall to the ground. It then shows Van Dyke shooting Mr. McDonald an additional 15 times while he was on the ground. The New York Daily News reports that Van Dyke emptied a clip then reloaded. Then another officer kicks away the knife Mr. McDonald had on his person as he lay motionless on the ground. Mr. McDonald died later on the way to the hospital.
Here’s the thing. 16 shots fired into someone walking away from you is not self-defense. It is sadism. Any claims that it is less than sadism is bullshit. Van Dyke’s attorney has so far made bellicose statements about his client’s innocence. No doubt he’ll impugn the late Mr. McDonald’s character as part of his client’s defense in due course. That Mr. McDonald was walking away from the police when he was initially shot, as reported by witnesses, the defense will not discuss. That the body was allowed to lie in the street for an extended period, the defense will not discuss. That Mr. McDonald was not moving as Van Dyke shot him 15 additional times, the defense will not discuss. That officers on the scene shooed away and intimidated witnesses of this crime, the defense will not discuss.
Van Dyke’s defense won’t discuss any of these details despite their relevance to the case because they want to use the Big Scary Black Man defense to justify the taking of yet another life.
But here’s the thing. 16 shots fired into someone walking away from you is not self-defense. It is sadism. Cold, cruel, ugly, base sadism. And it needs stop.
The blue wall of police closing ranks to protect one of their own for performing known criminal acts must fall. It must either fall or be taken down by firing people unfit for police service. Van Dyke had many other complaints against him. He clearly had no business being a police officer. I’ve been in the HR business for a long time. If you have a bad performer, you fire them. This is all the more crucial when the job has a license to kill. You don’t want unfit people given a license to kill. No one is above the law, least of all those sworn to protect and uphold it. Had Van Dyke been taken off the street ages ago, then Mr. McDonald would still be alive.
Do not protect someone who has committed sadistic murder. Because then you become the sadist.
© 2015, gar. All rights reserved.