December 4, 2014 by David K. Sutton
A Camera Did Not Hold Police Accountable In The Eric Garner Case
After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, I supported the idea of body-mounted cameras for police officers. But yesterday we found out that even video evidence was not enough to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner in New York City. So, I guess cameras won’t make a difference after all. What would make a difference is if people adopted a less lethal mindset, and I’m especially talking to conservatives here. How many people need to die to placate your desire for authoritarian obedience? Because you need to take a step back, and then another, and well, at least one more, and analyze the situation for what it is, not for what you might like it to be. Eric Garner was breaking the law, selling cigarettes illegally to avoid taxes. Even if he was resisting officers, he wasn’t charging or looking to start a fight. From a physical standpoint, he was entirely on defense, and from a verbal standpoint, he was just plain obstinate. And for many law and order types, you know, people who have no problem with the punishment far outweighing the crime, the fact that Garner was not obeying a person in a position of authority is justification enough for the final outcome, his death. No, of course they won’t say they wished to see him die, but their argument is that he got what was coming to him, because if he had simply obeyed the police, he would still be alive. And in a simplified worldview, that might be true, but do the police not have any culpability here? Shouldn’t the escalation of a situation, and the tactics used to diffuse it, be based on the merits of the crime that is being committed? The police are given the power that they are given in society means it falls on them to not escalate beyond the situation at hand. Had Garner committed a more serious crime, maybe the use of force that led to his death could be justified. But for selling some cigarettes illegally? I don’t think so. But even with video evidence, the grand jury didn’t believe it was worth pursuing. As I said in my previous article, it’s incredibly hard to indict police officers, even using evidence that would easily lead to the indictment of mere civilians.