Thursday, January 28, 2016
Laquan McDonald and my wife, Carol, played central roles in showing the public that police charges of "assaulting an officer" can be complete fabrications
|The shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago|
McDonald, a 17-year-old black male, died in 2014 when a Chicago police officer shot him 16 times--even though video now shows that McDonald was moving away from officers, not toward them, at the time he was shot. Police apparently wanted him for questioning about a series of car break-ins.
Shuler, my wife of 26 years, is a 56-year-old white female with a spotless personal and professional record--except for one or two bogus black marks that political forces in Alabama caused because she was married to a journalist/blogger who reported uncomfortable truths about the state's ruling elites. Shuler was valedictorian of her high-school class and made straight A's throughout college.
Not exactly the type to be assaulting a police officer--and that's because she didn't. But then, neither did Laquan McDonald.
Carol Shuler, thankfully, survived her encounter with rogue cops. Deputies from the Greene County Sheriff's Department--about six of them, plus Sheriff Jim Arnott himself--were on hand when at least three of them surrounded Carol and brutalized her during an unlawful eviction, leaving her with a shattered left arm and heavy bruising. With the help of intense physical therapy, she is recovering, but caregivers have said her injury was so severe that she probably will regain only 75 percent usage of her left arm, at best.
Laquan McDonald did not survive--his life snuffed out much too soon, in a hail of police gunfire. But here perhaps is the thing Laquan McDonald and Carol Shuler most had in common. Cops on the scene, apparently aware that citizens had been the victims of gross police misconduct, immediately concocted bogus narratives of "assaulting a police officer."
Consider, for example, the behavior of Jim Arnott. Here's how we spelled it out in a post titled "Missouri Sheriff Jim Arnott shows that his immediate tendency is to lie when confronted with police brutality." From that post:
Carol was trying to enter our apartment to retrieve some of our belongings, as she had been told she could do. Specifically, she was trying to get our cat's litter box and was headed to the front door for that purpose, when a deputy jumped her. I saw the whole thing from about 15 feet away, while seated in the driver's seat of our automobile, which was parked in the driveway. Arnott saw it from a vantage point about 10 feet closer than mine.
And what was the sheriff's immediate reaction to seeing one of his deputies brutalizing a 55-year-old woman who was trying to get her cat's "latrine"? Arnott's response was to lie. He pointed at Carol and said, "She assaulted a police officer."
That statement is absurd to anyone who witnessed the event. And it's even more absurd when you consider that Carol wound up with a severely broken arm that required surgery, and there is no indication that any of the half dozen or so officers on hand--armed with at least one assault rifle and numerous handguns--suffered the slightest scratch.
What are the implications of having a sheriff make such bogus claims against you? Well, it goes way beyond a mere inconvenience, as we described earlier:
Because of Arnott's lying eyes--and lying tongue--(Carol) apparently was going to be charged with assaulting a police officer. The deputy who drove her to the jail told her she was facing a felony and likely a $100,000 bond.
At some point, Carol (likely in shock; she would receive treatment with oxygen) announced that her arm was killing her. Someone finally took notice, decided this might be serious, and had her transported to Cox North Medical Center, a few blocks from the jail.
That's where X-rays showed Carol's arm was broken so badly that it would require a trauma surgeon, not an orthopedist, to repair it. She now has roughly 10 screws and multiple titanium plates that probably will stay in her arm as long as she lives. But Jim Arnott's immediate reaction, upon seeing his officers assault Carol, was to claim she had assaulted them.
In December 2014, the department officially recorded the shooting as a justifiable homicide.
"McDonald committed aggravated assault against the three officers, finally forcing Officer Van Dyke, in defense of his life, to shoot and kill McDonald," according to a report of that determination.
One report claims McDonald "battered" three officers. Another claims that Officer Jason Van Dyke, who fired the 16 shots, was "injured." From the Tribune article:
Again and again in reports, Van Dyke's account is supported by the other officers at the scene, each one describing the teen as a threat to the veteran cop. Four officers claimed that McDonald advanced toward Van Dyke, even though the video shows him walking away. Two others said he turned or raised an arm toward him
How police viewed the shooting, though, was clear. In the report that closed the investigation, filed in March, a detective offered this terse assessment.
"Criminal attacked officer," the report says, "that officer killed criminal."
Chicago cops viewed Laquan McDonald as a thing, a sub-human, one against whom they could easily lie--as proven by video of the shooting below.
Cops in Springfield, Missouri, apparently viewed Carol Shuler the same way. They apparently were not bothered in the least to arrest her, handcuff her, and send her to jail--for a "crime" she did not remotely commit. And if her arm had not been broken, she probably still would be in jail because I could not have possibly paid the $10,000 required for her release.
Much of the reporting on police misconduct has focused on the racial angle--and that's understandable given that black Americans clearly have suffered from cop abuse for decades. But the Laquan and Carol stories provide another side to the issue.
They tell us that cops, when they need to protect one of their own, are willing to look beyond race. When you are abused by a cop, other cops are prepared to lie and heap more abuse on you--without regard for the color of your skin.