Where’s Brian Wilson When You Need Him?

Apart from the simmering exasperation–nay, rage–nothing that has emerged from Ferguson, Missouri in the four months since Michael Brown’s shooting death has made any sense to me. Everything–from the events themselves and the characters of the primary actors to the reactions both of protesters and police–has been nuanced by dualism: Michael Brown was a thug, caught on camera robbing a convenience store–but also a promising young student, the first of his family set to attend university; Brown was shot charging officer Darren Wilson–but also, as some have said, with his hands up, clearly unarmed, pleading with Wilson not to shoot. This has left Ferguson with rioting (or not) protesters and brutality (or not) by its police department. It depends upon one’s point of view, and how far one is able to extend his sympathy towards the truth–whatever that elusive quantity is.

And now the St. Louis County Grand Jury has declined to recommend that Wilson be placed under any degree of indictment for what amounts to many as murder. As presented–and as expected–the evidence made sense: There was an initial struggle for the gun inside the police car, with Brown reaching in, and there was–immediately afterward–a pursuit, with Wilson giving chase on foot. In this scenario, the forensics seemingly exonerate Wilson. And while the grand jury investigation was largely able to debunk the “hands up, don’t shoot” quote of Brown’s purported final moments–which inspired the protesters’ rallying cry–still, I am puzzled by more than a few things. Why was Brown’s body left neglected, uncovered for some four and a half hours after the shooting–and is this indicative of a callous police attitude toward the citizenry of Ferguson? Why was no eye batted at the prospect of Wilson’s having washed evidentiary blood off his person before speaking with investigators? Why was the true distance between Brown and Wilson not accurately determined for the moment when the fatal shot was fired?

Then there’s this: Of the 12 shots fired by Wilson, Brown was struck six times, once fatally. Was Wilson a member of the Ferguson Police Department or the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight? Were Brown’s wounds chiefly inflicted as he was fleeing and, most tellingly, had he really turned and–if accidentally–presented himself head down to Wilson when the killing bullet was fired? This is how the grand jury saw it–which means not only that a Ferguson Police Officer couldn’t shoot worth a damn but, perhaps, that he was inadequately trained to do so. When one intends to kill, one aims for a head, thoracic or abdominal shot, right? But what if one intends only to stop an escaping suspect, or drop a charging one to the ground? The last distance between Brown and Wilson is key here. Or is it somehow against police protocol across this country to instruct prospective officers in accurately shooting the legs from beneath people? Brown sustained no gunshot wound to either leg.

But I level no accusation, and take no position other than to state the oddity of the incident. Odd in its circumstance, that is, and its dualism; not, sadly, even remotely odd in the all too frequent reoccurrence of this egregious tragedy. On Thanksgiving, my wife baked a perfect pumpkin pie; perfect, that is, except for her omission of sugar. So while what we had looked quite the pie, it tasted more like pate–and, though egregious, naturally enough was neither. This is what we have in Ferguson: I don’t see a murder, but neither do I see very good police or even investigative work. I see yet another young Black life truncated by the gunfire of a White police officer in Anytown, USA. And it’s unacceptable. It has always been unacceptable, but maybe now–at long last–we can make some progress in this regard.

Because Brown neither deserved nor needed to be killed–which is just the first, and most simple, of two glaring truths to emerge from a case that has been a morass of uncertainty. What has become almost embarrassingly obvious is that police officers across the country need to be outfitted with some kind of body camera.

To begin with, the police would comport themselves with a higher degree of professionalism if held to an accountability both immediate and easily viewed. Having footage of police activity would help protect not only officers, but the public; moreover, such video–an official document, as opposed to something sketchily captured on someone’s phone cam–could provide telling details at trial. In an era when the police are ridiculously over-equipped, this one tiny piece of technology might–despite body armor, automatic weapons and assault vehicles–be the key component in making the streets of every neighborhood much more secure. We have long accustomed ourselves to the ubiquitous security camera, but the time has now come in this country for every patrolling police officer–individually–to wear one.

Wouldn’t it be something if, in having the “talk” with their children, Black parents could–like the rest of us–limit the conversation to the business of the birds and bees? That topic itself can be difficult enough to grapple with. Wouldn’t it be something if young Black people did not also have to be taught that they might–almost casually, sometimes–be killed by the police? Wouldn’t it be nice?

4 thoughts on “Where’s Brian Wilson When You Need Him?

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  1. I agree with the greater majority of Mr. Oldenbourgs’ comments relating to the shooting of Mike Brown. While the residents of Fergerson and New York have to deal with the death of Brown and Graner as a result of police actions our own communities are facing the same abuse from our own police departments. The residents of Porterville cannot forget or dismiss the wrongful killing of Vincent Steen in January of 2010, which occurred under the (forced to take an early retirement) Porterville Police Chief Chuck McMillian. Many comments have been made in the media referring to Mike Brown as a “thug” for what seems to be the bullying of the store owner where he had taken to packages of cigars. In weighing the scales of accountability, we have to ask ourselves as to who did more damage to the community. Was it Mike Brown an 18 inmature Black man, who should have been dealth with in a more professional manner, rather than to shoot him like an animal, or, a Chief of Police who was allegedly (1) having alcohol parties at the local Police Training Facility, (2) the abuse of several 911 emergency calls to his resident, and no reports were ever filed or arrests conducted, (3) forcing on duty staff to leave their post and assist in maintaining the Police Training Facility against their wishes, (4) the unauthorized purchasing of a $30,000.00 tractor from the Lindsay Police Department, (5) creating a hostile enviornment within his department, (6) accepting and not taking appropriate action against a city elected official for attempting to optain favoritism to get a friend of a DUI charge, and, (7) failure to fully investigate the, passing out of one of his detectives in the Town and County parking lot in December of 2012 after leaving an early New Years Party. So I ask again WHO DID MORE DAMAGE TO THE COMMUNITY????This is the second Police Chief who has left the Porterville Department following misconduct. ARE THEY ABOVE THE LAW???These two individuals were hire by the Porterville City Manager who also hired the current City Attorney Julia Lew, who was not given any further consideration to represent the City of Lindsay. From what I was told, is the Lew was let go because she tried to influence the city not to contract the Public Employees Retirement System for its’ employees. Lew was the same person who cost the city over $50,000.00 to draft the 21 Measures for the June

  2. Continued: Elections that were so confusing that I don’t even think she understood them. I am thinking it was Measure T that purposed to allow the Porterville City Manager to opt out of PERS and scaming city employees. Folks I don’t make this stuff up, concern people, both city staff and city residents are fed up with this corrupt leadership. In my lawsuit against the City regarding a rights violation issue the United States Federal Judge ‘DENIED” the Citys’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT, indicating that even though my injuries were minimal, that the Officer had violated my rights. I recently filed a MOTION TO DISMISS COUNSEL, due to the fact that he and the Law Office of NELSON and ROZIER, a firm representing the City of Porterville and the Police Department, with your tax dollars, were attempting to deceive the court with a RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS AND INDEMNITY AGREEMENT that had a “Confidentiality Clause” that I did not agree to. They actually want me not to talk of the corruption surrounding the City of Porterville. My MOTION is with the interest of deposing the Chief of Police. Imagine that. NELSON and ROZIER, simply, said they were sorry that they had overlooked the entry. These attorneys are supposedly “seasoned attorneys” but are only abusing you tax dollars
    So now,, my second question is who is doing or did more damage to their community, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, OR the Police Chief, City Manager, City Attorney, or NELSON and ROZIER? Wake up people, before you get shot because in Tulare County you don’t have to be BLACK. You just have to be a taxpayer to get violated. NEED I SAY MORE?

  3. To the Valley Voice staff: Thank you for simply just reporting the news and allowing the readers to express their opinions, even though at times, some of us misspell some of the easiest words. So far, the Valley Voice is about the only newspaper that reports the most current controversial subjects and this is good for the community, because at least, the readers get well informed. Continue doing what you do best, REPORT THE NEWS. Your excellent journalism places THE VALLEY VOICE at the top of my choice in reading material. I must say that you’re even better than talk radio. From all the Porterville readers, HAPPY HOLIDAYS

  4. The problem that the Judicial System, the City of Porterville, and the Porterville Police Department have to be concern with, is the removal of the Porterville Police Chief for reasons of misconduct. WHY? Because if the Chief was involved in any litigation, criminal or civil, and this would be anything from the issuance of a citation, an arrest, and the implementation of Department policies, would certainly be questioned as having been moved through the courts under fraud. AGAIN, WHY? Because if the Chief was considered as a servant who was mandated under law to enforce the law, but was terminated from his post because he was disobeying the law. This abuse of the law may have affected every person who was put through the court system under his watch. Moreover, this can possibly carry over to who knew, when did they know it, and did they report it. Every public official is compelled by law to report any crime committed by any public employee.

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