As someone with a degree in media with 10 years in the journalism profession, I’ve often tried to go into everything with a clear head and look for every single angle on things.
Rarely are things cut-and-dry and there is always two sides to every story. Sometimes more. The key is to be open to every possibility.
This Eric Garner case is one I haven’t been able to get my head around. The video evidence is there. The police handbook regulations are out there and available to the press and the public.
What you see on the video is a police office kill an unarmed man using a restraint technique that is banned by the department he works for.
Now, to play Devil’s Advocate on this – and yes, I probably should have studied law and I’m still mad I didn’t – when you’re in a struggle and you’re in a fight, sometimes your training gets overridden by instinct. I’ve been in my fair share of fights, I get that.
However, I don’t think you can argue the life of the officer was in any danger. I don’t think that would pass a “reasonable” doubt test.
We are at a point to where self-defense laws themselves need to go on trial. There appears to be a lot of leeway with them, and they seem to be impossible to legislate.
For instance, I was reading something about Missouri’s law – which became big in the Ferguson case. If I read it correctly, it said essentially that if there were any possible chance the defendant were acting in self defense, then the case had to be acquitted. I’m not sure if this is why Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted. I wasn’t in the courtroom. But that makes it really hard to get a conviction.
That doubt didn’t appear to be an issue with the case in New York, so I’m confused with this particular outcome.
I’m not a legal expert, though I did do well in all of my law classes in college. I can still cite a few legal precedents in media law – mainly the big, important ones, like Times vs. Sullivan. (BTW, that particular case is fairly relevant based on some recent media cases in the KC area.)
But like most people, I try to stay informed. I try to look at the facts and I try to wait before making up my mind. Again, maybe it’s the former journalist in me, but in cases of law, I try not to be overly reactive, for better or worse.
And what I’m seeing as I try to stay informed is a powder keg that’s about to ignite in this country. Tensions are building, and I hope that all protesting in New York and around the country on this particular case are peaceful.
But we need to find a way to evaluate these laws and we need to find ways to get a dialogue going that will actually help ease racial tensions in this country. Because if we don’t, things are going to get worse well before they get any better.