St. Louis County authorities will soon announce a decision in the grand-jury inquiry into the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. There has been a great deal written about this subject, but I want to highlight two particular pieces that get to the core of the issue.
Shaun King of Daily Kos has “15 Questions for Darren Wilson.” Especially pertinent are these two questions:
3. Four eyewitnesses report seeing and hearing your tires screech as you violently put your SUV in reverse on Canfield Drive, nearly hitting Brown and Johnson. Why did you reverse in such a reckless and provocative manner?
. . .
7. Reports have surfaced that you told federal investigators that you were repeatedly punched and scratched by Brown through your SUV window. Why did you not see the medic who arrived on the crime scene? Why do no photos or videos or eyewitness reports from the scene have evidence of even a shadow of an injury, or you touching or favoring any injury?
Question 7 also deserves an answer from Sean Hannity, who ran with (danced with, somersaulted with) the unsubstantiated claim that Wilson suffered a broken eye socket. Then there is the matter of the final two shots Wilson fired.
13. Before you fired the two fatal shots into Brown’s eye and the crown of his head, as he was falling down, you had shot him a total of four times already. Did you still believe him to be a threat to you at that point?
Those who are inclined to believe that Wilson acted in self-defense should spend some time pondering King’s questions. They should also ask themselves if they aren’t gullible for invariably believing stories of unarmed black males going berserk and assailing armed cops (or, in the case of George Zimmerman, a cop in his own mind).
On the larger issue of racial and class bias in policing, veteran activist Percy Green II has offered proposals for reforming police departments.
Green recommends that police be required to live within the boundaries of their department’s jurisdiction. He notes that had that policy been in place in Ferguson, “then the existing problem of only three blacks on the police force with a population of 68 percent African Americans would not exist.” He also proposes regular psychological testing of police officers, which would help screen out bigots, sadists, and psychopaths. These proposals should be the starting point for a new, nationwide program of police reform, whatever happens in the Michael Brown case.