Once upon a time, when I was but a child, I called the cops on my brother’s friends due to a misunderstanding.
My family lived for about a decade in South Medford, Massachusetts. That home was actually pretty near the Somerville flat where I lived prior to leaving the US, and while it’s not super close to any subway stops, it’s not super far, either – about half an hour to Davis Square if you’re walking, or a 10 minute drive. My brother is five years older than me, and he had a pretty tight group of friends at the time, who were scheduled to come over on that fateful evening. My parents got a call to drive over to Davis to pick up a couple of said friends, and so they went, along with my brother, knowing that they’d only be gone for 20 minutes, and that I would be fine just reading in my room.
Or so we thought.
I was doing my thing, lying on the floor and reading one of the Redwall books, when I heard a clatter. A moment later there was another, like something had hit my second story window. I poked my head up to look outside, and sure enough, there were a bunch of people throwing pebbles at my window. Naturally, I freaked out, dropped to the floor, crawled to the lamp, and turned it off.
I could now hear someone pounding on the back door, underneath my bedroom, and a man’s accented voice shouting to be let in. I was terrified, so I scampered to the phone, and called the fire department. I didn’t know 911 at the time, and the fire department’s number was written on the phone, so that’s what I went with. I told them what was happening, more or less as I’ve laid it out here, and they assured me that they were sending a police officer.
The cops got there at around the same time as my parents, I think, and it was a little while before it was made clear to me what had happened. The mysterious strangers trying to break into my home, were actually another group of my brother’s friends, being dropped off by a parent, who understandably thought they were expected. The police questioned me separately from my parents, assuming that this was some sort of domestic dispute, but things were eventually cleared up, and life went on. For quite a while, once I understood why they’d questioned me separately, it honestly made me feel good about police, that they would think to do that.
I’m telling you all this because a news story caught my eye, and made me think of it. An 11-year-old boy in Mississippi called the police for help with a domestic dispute, and the police “helped” by shooting him. The kid survived, but he’s recovering from a collapsed lung, liver damage, and broken ribs. He called for help, just like I did, and when “help” arrived, it shot him.
The boy was given a cellphone by his mother and told to call the police during a domestic disturbance involving the father of another one of her children, Moore said. After the child called 911, an Indianola police officer who was identified by the attorney as Greg Capers “had his gun blazing” upon arrival at the home at around 4 a.m., Moore said.
When Nakala Murry, the boy’s mother, told the officer that no one in the house was armed, the officer yelled out that anyone in the home should come out with their hands up, Moore said.
Even though Aderrien adhered to the officer’s commands and had his hands up, Capers shot him in the chest, according to the family and Moore.
“His words were: ‘Why did he shoot me? What did I do?’ and he started crying,” the boy’s mother said at a news conference this week.
The Indianola Board of Aldermen voted this week to place Capers on paid administrative leave while the case is investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. It’s unclear whether he will face additional discipline or possible termination.
It’s easy to think that that could have been me, but honestly? It probably never would have been.
I’m white, you see, and this kid is black. Odds are we’ll never be able to definitively prove that that was a factor, but given history, I see no reason to give the shooter the benefit of the doubt. Aderrien Murry did everything right, every step of the way, and the police officer who was supposedly sent there to help him, shot him instead. The police chief said it was “extremely tragic on both sides”, because of course we have to consider the feelings of that poor cop! I can already hear the defense being built. They’ll say that the cop misheard the mother and thought everyone in the house was armed, or that Aderienn is “large and intimidating for an 11 year old”. There’s always some reason why it was perfectly understandable for a cop to shoot someone; why any reasonable person would have seen a frightened, unarmed child, and feared for their lives.
This isn’t something that reform can fix. An armed goon, trained to kill, should never have been the first responder to a call like this. When people argue against defunding or abolishing the police, they always talk about the harm they believe would follow, but there comes a point at which fear of the unknown can lead us to support far greater harm than could ever come from the changes that scare us so. Across much of the United States, the police are an occupying force, and one that increasingly resembles a military force. They actively oppose efforts at reform or oversight, and if they do manage to do good, it’s largely an accident of them being the go-to first responders for every conceivable crisis. If you throw cops at literally every problem, they’re bound to solve at least some of them. Police must be defunded, and their resources spent on addressing things that cause crime.
I’ll leave you with this thought: incidents like this may be a minority of police interactions, but the damage they do ripples out. Even discounting the trauma suffered by Aderrien, what happens the next time Nakala Murry fears her ex might turn violent? Do you think she’ll call the cops? Would you? What about the neighbors and friends of that family? What about other people who hear the story, and are in similar situations?
Society needs first responders, but police do more harm than good.
The problem with “armed goons” responding to situations like that is that given the number of testosterone-fuelled gun nuts with assault rifle penis substitutes in the community, the goon is highly likely to be facing someone who seriously outguns him and is ready to shoot first. At the time you called the police the NRA didn’t have both parties hostage to their
agenda, weekend warriors weren’t planning and practising for the violent overthrow of the government and guns didn’t outnumber people. The first step in preventing things like this is to get rid of as many of the guns as possible and defang the poisonous viper that is the NRA. Think this is impractical? After the worst mass shooting in Australian history access to guns was restricted and military-style weapons were banned. Today mass shootings are a rarity.
School shootings are even rarer. In all my years on the planet I know of only one, which happened recently. A teenager got hold of two of his father’s rifles and fired three shots into his former school. Nobody was hurt including the shooter who was detained by the police. The government has now flagged even stricter regulations requiring all gun owners to store their weapons in a locked gun safe and to lock away the ammunition separately. Its not racket science, its common sense, something which Americans with dicks for brains seem to lack.
Abe Drayton says
Police still hold the power. The NRA is a problem, but they are notdoes have a social worker first responder team that’s working out well.I’m open to more gun regulation, but that won’t help a lot with what’s in circulation, and I think it’s the culture that’s the bigger danger.
The thing with US cops is that they are, simply by existing, an escalation and a threat. Everybody knows that “cop” means “armed guy who will shoot, if given an excuse.
Given the context…
” Everybody knows that “cop” means “armed guy who will shoot
, if given an excuse.”
Fixed it for you.
Which killer? Killer of whom?
Abe Drayton says
Killer of my brain’s autopilot. Fixed it, though I think it’s fair to treat this cop like a murderer, given that he certainly tried to kill the kid.
“I think it’s fair to treat this cop like a murderer”
Hope you’re never called for jury duty. Don’t you find that knee jerk assumption apparent in your slip even slightly worrying?
I mean holy fuck the guy is a massively irresponsible clear and present danger to the public who should never again be allowed to hold a firearm almost certainly need locking up for a while, but “murderer” is a word that means something, isn’t it?
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
He inflicted lethal damage on the child. He was protected against the consequences of his own actions by the medical heroism of others. This is NOT a situation in which he inflicted damage which the child would have survived without highly specialized medical help that the officer himself could not have provided.
In other words, he did everything required to murder the child. Other people prevented the death, sure, but he gets no points for that.
Abe Drayton says
@sonofrojblake – am I on a jury now?
Does this blog carry any legal weight?
I am not being asked to decide his sentence, nor am I involved in it. For the purposes of everyday life, I see no reason whatsoever to limit myself to the rules of a courtroom.