I watched enough ER to be a doctor; enough Law and Order to be a lawyer. Enough NYPD Blue to be a detective. Enough of The Wire to be an expert in several areas including journalism, teaching, policing, union management, and running an empire in the shadow economy. I think we’ve all watched enough CSI to be crime scene experts.
We, the self-appointed television watching experts, have been out in droves following the release of the Missouri Grand Jury proceedings regarding the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Police Officer (now former) Darren Wilson. Whatever you choose to believe happened that day, communities of like-minded folk are there waiting for you, just a google away.
After an intensive immersion in online reactions, I’ve come to conclusions both large and small.
- I’m a geek when it comes to language. Over this last week I’ve started a list of words I hope to never hear again. Race card. Race pimp. Race baiter. Additionally, I’ve concluded that thug is the new n-word.
- I don’t know with certainty what happened that day. Physical evidence seems to support some of Wilson’s story, but Johnson’s version of events make a whole lot more sense.
- I don’t understand why Wilson chased Brown. That seems like poor judgement.
- I am thoroughly disgusted by Wilson’s own language in his statements. He called Brown a demon. A DEMON. That sort of dehumanizing mindset doesn’t belong on a police force.
- The huge reaction to this case is due to systemic failure. There is no way to have confidence in the process.
- Wilson drove himself and his weapon back to the police station. He washed up. He was allowed to surrender his weapon on his own terms.
- The medical examiner didn’t take measurements. He didn’t take pictures because his camera batteries were dead.
- Having a Grand Jury function as this one did is highly unusual.
- The prosecutor’s father was a police officer killed on the job by an African-American male. He had wanted to be a police officer but lost a leg to cancer as a teenager. Before this trial, his objectivity about police shootings had come into question. I don’t know the man, maybe that doesn’t influence his ability to perform his job functions, but risk the appearance of impropriety on such a high-profile case? PBS assembled this fascinating chart that summarizes the testimonies. My inevitable conclusion: either this guy is the world’s worst prosecutor or he had his thumb on the scale.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy nut to question how this was handled. It could very well be that Wilson’s version of the events are correct and that the shooting was justified. But because this was bungled from the beginning, it will never have a public airing in a trial. And we are all just left to speculate.
Because there were serious lapses in the integrity of the process, there is no confidence in the outcome.
The world was watching and was treated to a real-time breakdown in the American Justice System.