A tragedy, to be sure, but one made all the more sickening by the
shameless political sideshow that soon followed. The dead driver was Devin Brown, a 13-year-old black boy. I mention his ethnicity here only because of its relevance to the carnival of racial pandering that’s been escalating all week, with politicians falling over themselves to denounce the shooting, and the always reliable chorus of “community activists” calling for the officers to be brought up on murder charges. Perhaps the most craven of all was Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, who called for swift changes to LAPD policy. He addressed reporters and protesters at a news conference staged in front of a South L.A. police station on Tuesday. “I am joining in the anger and the frustration,” Hahn said, “and I stand here with great concern over this latest use of force.” One wonders if the mayor joined in the anger and frustration expressed by those protesters who carried signs reading “Death to the pigs.” Addressing the LAPD policy on shooting at moving cars, Hahn said, “We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” As to how to prevent 13-year-old boys from using stolen cars to run over police officers, the mayor had no suggestions.
Though current LAPD policy discourages officers from shooting at moving cars, there are deliberate ambiguities for those situations in which an officer has no other choice but to fire in order to save his own life or someone else’s. Press descriptions of Brown as being “unarmed” overlook the fact that he was aiming a 2,000-pound car at a cop. California law explicitly states that a police officer may use deadly force to confront an assault likely to inflict serious bodily injury. The damage to Garcia’s police car leaves no doubt that he would have been seriously injured or killed had he not taken action. Whether it may have been wiser for him to hold his fire and run out of the way of the car is debatable, but he was not obligated to do so under current law.
Making matters worse are my old friends at the Los Angeles Times, who nearly every week provide me with validation for having canceled the subscription I held for nearly 30 years. In a Thursday editorial, the Times decried what it described as a “lingering shoot-first culture” in the LAPD. The editorial quoted a speaker at a city-council meeting who described the fear of the police felt by South Los Angeles residents. “Black people fear the police as much as they fear the gangs,” the speaker told the council. “In fact, the LAPD is considered the biggest gang in the city.”
It is a tired, old trick to use an inflammatory quote to illustrate a dubious point. This is a foolish statement on its face, as the statistics clearly prove. South- and South-Central Los Angeles are patrolled by five of the LAPD’s 18 area stations. These five stations accounted for slightly more than half of the city’s 515 homicides that occurred in 2004, and an equally high proportion of the assaults against police officers. What is remarkable is not how often officers fire their weapons but rather how often they don’t. Every cop on the streets of L.A. can recall incidents in which he would have been justified in shooting someone but didn’t. These cases seldom if ever draw the attention of our sophisticated betters at the Los Angeles Times.
Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times described a protest meeting at a South L.A. church, where “about 200 people stood, shouted and applauded as speakers said the LAPD viewed blacks differently from others.” “Children tend to be mischievous,” said a woman in the audience, “but they shouldn’t have to die. . . Children do stuff like that all the time.”
Children? Mischievous? Devin Brown, God rest his soul, was not out toilet-papering the gym teacher’s house. He committed at least three felonies, crimes which might have resulted in the death of a police officer, his own passenger, or some innocent bystander, yet you’ll scarcely hear a word in the press calling his precipitous actions into question. Mischievous, indeed.
An excellent article and one you should read. It spells out the politic’s involved in all this since our Mayor is up for re-election and now wants to win the black vote by making our already dangerous job even more dangerous.