A mistaken cop can shoot you down at any time, and that is the law.

Despite what you keep reading on social media, it’s not likely that the cop who shot the woman in Minnesota would be convicted by a jury, provided it even goes to trial. Because if the cop believed the person he shot was potentially a mortal threat, he will be acquitted. He apparently shot her from the passenger seat through his partner’s door where she was talking with his partner. She died from a shot to the abdomen, though not instantly. She might have quickly bled to death, or went into cardiac arrest. There is no word on whether she was handcuffed. Nor is there any explanation as to why she was shot. We can only assume the shooting officer thought she had a gun in her hand. No gun was found, however her cell phone was found, and the officer must have assumed that her cell phone was a handgun and that this lady in her pajamas could be a cop killer. And that is the key. Even if the partner who was talking to the woman knew she had no gun, the fact that the shooting officer thought she had a gun in her hand is all that is required for acquittal. This has been famously established by several juries. You can see the impact of these latest jury decisions on police behavior. They shoot, knowing that all they have to say is that they thought their victim was armed and might be going to kill them. Providing clear cut evidence that the victim was neither armed nor intending any sort of violence will not convict the officer. All that is required for acquittal is that the officer thought his life (or his partner’s life) was in jeopardy. Prosecution will have to prove that the officer could not have believed his life was in danger. And juries have shown absolutely no tendency to believe an officer could be mistaken. The bar has been set so low for justifiable homicide by a police officer that convictions, no matter how egregious the shooting, are just about impossible. Indeed, Justine Ruszczyk (aka Justine Damond) is just the latest in a line of women who officers somehow believed were cop killers. Seattle police shot an unarmed pregnant woman named Charleena Lyles in her kitchen recently. She was African-American, and just as Justine Ruszczyk had called the police (to report what sounded like a sexual assault nearby), Charleena Lyles had called the police to report a burglary. At some point the two white responding officers suddenly decided she was a cop killer and shot her repeatedly in front of her children. The department found that they followed proper procedure. Odds are that the Minneapolis Police Department will come to the same conclusion in this latest shooting. It’s not that Justine Ruszczyk did anything wrong. It’s just that the officer did nothing wrong either. He apparently thought she had a gun, and while shooting someone to death through a car door based on a wrong assumption will get you a long stretch if you are a civilian, it is legitimate self-defense for a police officer as far as juries are concerned. He may be a Somali cop and she a pretty white lady, as both ends of the political spectrum keep pointing out, but he is still a cop and she wasn’t and the cop is always right. As jury after jury has established, a mistaken cop can shoot you down at any time, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. That is the law.

Advertisements