Cheating the Balance

Yesterday I wacked together a piece titled Imbalance in the system that discussed my feelings that a police officer should not get to ‘plead the fifth’ in regards to actions ‘on the job’.

After I wrote that piece, I did a bit more research and discovered that my feelings are already incorporated into law. A police officer may decline to make an official statement of events to the police investigators working on the original incident. The police officer is required to make a statement to Internal Affairs if they request one, and that statement is inadmissible in court should the officer be charged as a result of their actions while on duty. I have to admit, that is a reasonable balance.

Given that this mechanism exists for the police to investigate the actions of the officer in a way that can not be used against them in court, it baffles me that the officer in question quit his job rather than follow through with his duty as an officer:

Officer in BART shooting quits force, avoids internal affairs quizzing
Demian Bulwa,Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 7, 2009

(01-07) 19:14 PST OAKLAND — The BART police officer who shot an unarmed man to death on a station platform early New Year's Day quit the force Wednesday, avoiding an interview with police internal affairs investigators who were trying to get to the bottom of a videotaped incident that has prompted broad outrage.

And, of course, the riots are beginning:

Protests over BART shooting turn violent
Demian Bulwa, Charles Burress, Matthew B. Stannard,Matthai Kuruvila, Chronicle Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A protest over the fatal shooting by a BART police officer of an unarmed man mushroomed into a violent confrontation tonight, as a faction of protesters smashed a police car and storefronts, set a car on fire and blocked streets in downtown Oakland.

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