Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bad Reputation

Knowing that the BART shooting that took place last year is still a rather heated topic, I have been avoiding it. Although, as the topic of this blog pertains to police corruption, I believe this is an essential incident to include.
On New Year's Day in 2009, several BART officers pulled two groups on men off a BART train when they were engaged in a conflict. Among the men who were pulled off the train was an African American male, Oscar Grant. Grant and the officers were verbally engaged with one another when Grant stood up and was therefore physically forced to the ground by a few officers. As Grant was lying face down on the platform, one of the officers, Johannes Mehserle, took a step back, pulled out his gun, aimed it at and shot Grant in the back.
Those who witnessed the incident and heard about it shortly after were outraged. The first thing that came to everyone's mind was police corruption. In today's society, anything that pertains to a police officer being in the wrong is automatically viewed as police corruption, whether it was intentional or not. Demonstrators held violent protests in Oakland and continued to make their voice be heard. The violence and death threats were so bad that the trial of Mehserle was moved to Los Angeles.
It is understandable that people are upset, mourning a loss, and even angry. It is also understandable that the whole BART shooting was a mistake. Watch the video and pay close attention to Mehserle's face. He reaches for his taser in the midst of struggling with Grant, points it at him, and pulls the trigger. Immediately after the shot rang out, you can without a doubt see the panic set in. Mehserle was shocked. He had grabbed his gun instead of his taser. Any person who really pays attention can see how his reactions clearly show that pulling out his gun and shooting Grant was not Mehserle's intention. Although, it does not matter what Mehserle's intentions were, all that mattered was that he just fatally shot a young man.
Due to the history of police corruption and brutality, people think that the police are out to get them. The police must be horrible, untrustworthy people. The police are always corrupt and kill innocent people. The truth of the matter is that police are people. The police are not perfect, they make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are bigger and worse than others.
There is no way to bring back a person who has passed, and it is a shame that Mehserle made a mistake. It is a shame that everyone points fingers at him and label him a "murderer."
The history of police corruption has made every mistake an officer does, a crime.


KGO-TV, Officer-involved shooting at bart station kills one. January 1, 2009.

Bulwa, D., Burress, C. Stannard, M.B., and Kuruvila, M. Protests over bart shooting turn violent.
San Francisco Chronicle. January 8, 2009.

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