Perhaps you have heard of the fatal shooting that occurred here in Oakland on New Years. Perhaps not though, as I hear that mainstream media outside of the Bay Area is not covering the story. I’ll give some links at the bottom if you are interested, but they are crucial to this post so I’m not quoting any of the stories here.
The short story is that there was a fight on a BART train. BART police arrived and broke up the fight. The BART police had the participants of the fight face down on the station floor, and were in the process of handcuffing them. For unknown reasons, one of the officers drew his side-arm and shot one of the suspects in the back, from point blank range, as he lay there face down on the floor. The bullet passed through his abdomen and ricocheted off the concrete back up into his lungs. He died. Those are the established facts.
Why? That part of the investigation is at a stand still. Five days later, and the officer in question has not made a statement to investigators.
Before I go any further, I want to say that in principle I believe VERY strongly in the Bill of Rights. They are the foundation of our relatively free society. I also understand that there are limitations to those rights, and that there are circumstances where rights can be lost. As an example of this, a person can lose their second amendment right to bear arms for a whole range of reasons with the most commonly known reason being convicted of a felony. So, while I believe in the Bill of Rights, I do understand and agree with some reasons where those rights can be lost.
The officer has not been required to make a statement because he has a fifth amendment right against self incrimination. This is something that bothers me. We are not talking about an average citizen here. We are talking about an officer of the law, whose actions that evening were on the job, paid for by the people of Oakland and California to serve the law. This is my personal opinion, but if we already agree that some rights can be lost by the choices people make, then I propose that a police officer who is on duty must be required to make a full accounting of their actions even if such statement could be considered incriminating. If you chose to put yourself in a position of enforcing the law, you should have to accept that your actions while on duty are 100% the business of those who entrusted you with their safety.
We need, as a society, to be sure that our police enforce the law, and are not above the law. Perhaps my idea isn’t the best way to accomplish that, but I’m open to your thoughts if you have a better idea.
BART officer has yet to give account in shooting
As BART shooting videos go viral, experts try to figure out what went wrong
BART shooting victim’s family files $25 million claim
M&R: Death threats against BART officer
A shot in the dark