Saturday, September 08, 2007

Bakersfield newspaper headlines read, "Lawmen cleared in incident"...Yesterday 11 local police and sheriff officers were cleared of a killing a lone 24 year gunmen in Bakersfield who refused to drop his weapon. The Bakersfield Police Department's shooting review board determined the police officers were acting in self defense and within the state and federal guidelines. Apparently the officers were being questioned regarding whether they used excessive force in the killing...Now the rest of the story...Apparently the officers were responding to reports of shots being fired in a neighborhood. The officers arrived at the scene to find the suspect hiding underneath a camper shell in the backyard. The officers attempted to get the suspect to surrender his weapon and when he refused, the officers shot and killed the suspect....Now some of the details. While the suspect did refuse to give up his weapon he did not shoot at the police officers, although it reported he waved his weapon in their direction. There is also no evidence the suspect shot at anyone else prior to the arrival of the police officers...and now the outrage...The police officers shot over 100 rounds at the suspect...The corner recovered 35 bullets from the suspect...and...now the worst of it. The police chief testified that the police officers showed incredible restraint before the shooting began...and now, I can't believe what I am hearing....According to the police report the officers spent 4 minutes trying to get the suspect to surrender his weapon before the barrage of bullets ended the suspects life....I confess I may not know all the details but if these facts are true I can't questioning what the hell is going on!!!!
This is not the first time the Bakersfield police department has been publicly scrutinized. Over the years they have gained a reputation of shooting first and asking questions later...and...statistics appear to support this perception since Bakersfield has the highest number of suspects killed by police officers in the state, if not the country. So when does a four minute conversation amount to using incredible restraint?..Couldn't they have given him a couple of more minutes...Couldn't they have used tear gas??? Asked a family member to get him to surrender???? I can think of numerous other things they could have done....Couldn't they have made a couple of shots and then try again?....This sounds like a senseless killing to me and undermines the faith people are supposed to have in our local law enforcement agency....I smell an outside investigation brewing and a potential lawsuit against the Bakersfield Police department.....I don't mean to jump to conclusions but I sure as hell hope I don't get pulled over by the local police in the near future....

2 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

What a very sad story Bill. I agree with your take on it and think this sums up some of my experiences:

undermines the faith people are supposed to have in our local law enforcement agency

Bilbo said...

Hi Bob,

I have so many mixed emotions about our local police force. Most do their jobs with respect and restraint and I know their jobs are extremely stressful..but...there is also a pervasive attitude in Bakersfield that the police can do no wrong...and...the general public always sides with the police even they have been found guilty of misbehavior or they do something as outrageous as this news story.I suppose a lot of folks just can handle the possibility that the police can make mistakes. I suspect it is an insecurity issue. Not particularly comforting that the police can at times make mistakes...