Half The Human Side Of Death

Maybe it should be noted more often that police are no more “pure evil” as some want to paint them than anyone else.  Sure, guys like ex-cop Glennon play that game, dehumanizing their enemy to enhance their own delusion, but it’s a lie for everyone, not just Glennon.

Just as a cop’s life has value, so too does the non-cop.  Just as the non-cop’s life has value, so too does the cop.  When the piece that we see is the cop shooting, it’s easy not to realize that the cop is a human being, and the flip-side of the shooter is the human being who just killed another one.  Even the shield can’t block the realization that the “thing” it just killed is another human being.

This video of Billings, Montana Police Officer Grant Morrison, after killing 38-year-old Richard Ramirez, shows the aftermath:

The backstory is that Ramirez’s car was stopped by Morrison for a traffic violation.

Police video showed Morrison repeatedly ordered Ramirez and other occupants of the vehicle to raise their hands. Ramirez’s actions were largely obscured in the video. But Morrison said Ramirez dropped his left hand to his side — out of the officer’s view — and “started to jiggle it up and down” just before he was shot.

So Morrison shot him.

During the stop, Ramirez, high on methamphetamine, reached for his waistband. Morrison, believing Ramirez was reaching for a gun, repeatedly told the man to put his hands in the air. When Ramirez failed to comply, Morrison responded by shooting and killing him.

Morrison later explained before the jury at a coroner’s inquest:

I knew in that moment, which later was determined to be untrue, but I knew in that moment that he was reaching for a gun. I couldn’t take that risk. … I wanted to see my son grow up.”

Who wouldn’t want to see his son grow up?  Morrison certainly did. Maybe Ramirez did too?

The jury found Morrison’s shoot justified, which comes as no surprise.  The video of the stop from Morrison’s dash cam, in contrast to the video above, isn’t nearly as endearing a view.

Rather than the heart-wrenching concern for seeing his son again, Morrison comes off as a cavalier, foul-mouthed, knee-jerk killer, thoughtlessly firing into a car after treating its occupants as worthless scum.

Why didn’t the occupants of the car raise their hands, or raise their hands sufficiently to keep from being killed by Morrison?  Who knows?  Ramirez, according to the coroner, was high on meth, which may have impaired his cognitive abilities.  Why didn’t he comply with the command to raise his hands?  We’ll never know, because Ramirez is dead.

From the use of his name, it seems fairly obvious that Richard Ramirez was known to Morrison and the other cops who arrived.  Was he known as a violent guy, or a meth addict?  Or just one of those non-cops who weren’t worth being treated as human?  Again, who knows?

Is the impression ones gets from the video that Morrison is in fear of his life, or angry about non-compliance with his command, and lacking any other tool to enforce his will but for the gun in his hands, he shoots?

Afterward, Morrison’s regret is painful to watch.  He is, after all, human, and he just took another person’s life.  As it turned out, there was no weapon in Ramirez’s waistband, so his reaching for his waistband (and I will assume it happened as Morrison says) was a threatening gesture without threat. There was nothing there to explain Ramirez’s doing so.  There was nothing there that could have harmed Morrison.  There is no explanation for it.

And Morrison breaks down as the realization sinks in.  This wasn’t Morrison’s first kill.  He killed another man in 2013, and that shoot was deemed righteous as well.  But the first killing apparently didn’t make the second any easier on Morrison.  Maybe it was different. Maybe the fact that Ramirez had no weapon, that he was unarmed and offered no threat to Morrison, made a difference.

The video of Morrison’s emotional release after the killing of Richard Ramirez shows that cops are human, that cops suffer an emotional toll from the killing of another person.  Yes, it’s worth realizing and important to know.  This may not be noted sufficiently as discussions are had about police shootings, that the cops suffer too.

But then, as hard as this may have been emotionally on Police Officer Grant Morrison, it was a whole lot harder on Richard Ramirez.  Morrison may have felt awful after realizing that he killed an unarmed man so that Morrison would be able to see his son again.  Ramirez, however, was dead and would never see anyone again.

In the scheme of people to feel badly about after a police officer shoots an unarmed man, we can have some degree of empathy for the emotional toll it takes on the cop.  But that toll pales in comparison to the suffering by the other guy, who’s dead.  That’s the other half of the human side of death.  Better to be able to cry about it than to be dead.

H/T Rick Horowitz

15 thoughts on “Half The Human Side Of Death

  1. RKTlaw

    Well, at least the coroner’s inquest took almost an hour in determining Morrison was “forced” to kill Ramirez. You wouldn’t want them to give short shrift to something that upset the officer so much. Also, this guy is a cop in Montana, and has killed someone twice in five years? The streets of Billings must be Sin City.

    1. Scarlet Pimpernel

      Actually it was 2 people in 14 months, the first shooting was in February 2013, the second shooting was in April 2014. The first time, supposedly, the victim reached for a replica gun.

      [Ed. Note: No email, no more comments. Your choice.]

  2. Mike Paar

    The video of Morrison after the murder is nothing but a textbook example of Method Acting. The time he takes to focus on something sad he’s previously experienced is telling, as is the hyperventilating and getting all worked up for his entrance on the video. He knew or at least thought there would be a more thorough investigation in this shooting than there was his first, so he had to have a back-up video designed to sway the minds of jurors should he have to face trial. No Oscar for this performance but he has a compelling video audition to submit to a producer when he kills again (and he will) and needs a second career.

    1. SHG Post author

      How does it help you to to make an assertion that is as utterly baseless as you argue Morrison’s regret is? This sort of argument is not just ineffective, but assures you will be dismissed as being so blindly biased as to have no view worthy of being taken seriously.

      Save this for the your choir. It has no place in a real discussion.

      1. Mike Paar

        It’s obvious we all see what we want to see and interpret everything based on our own preconceived biases and this is why bodycams for the most part will do little to help us arrive at the truth.

        In the above video Officer Morrison is off-camera for more than two-minutes and can be heard breathing heavily until he lifts up and sees the red light flashing on the dashcam at 4:34, then at 4:42 he begins preparing his defense by stating “I thought he was going to pull a gun on me”. Up to that point he’s dry-eyed and tearless.

        At 4:50 the tears begin and at 4:55 his pal whispers “you survived” and by this time Officer Morrison is just wailing. At 5:50 his pal begins to give what I believe is legal advice telling him to “get yourself together” and “remember” something which is inaudible to me.

        I suppose it’s possible this wasn’t scripted, but if an officer wanted to begin preparing a defense, he could definitely take lessons from this video. Hell, it will probably be shown to all new cadets as part of their training at the academy along with a drama class.

        1. Myles

          There really is a world of difference between these two comments, Mike. The first made you seem like a conspiratorial nutjob, while the second makes you seem thoughtful and insightful. The difference is amazing.

  3. John Barleycorn

    I wonder what the PTSD disability payment schedule is for an officer involved in a killing in Billings is?

    I have also wonder what would happen if some graduate students were to embark on a study that took a look at the likelihood of citizens having negative lasting psychological issues after the police shove guns in their face during traffic stops especially if one of their friends blood ends up all over their face?

    Fuck this shit and the speculation. If officer safety is truly such a hypersensitive concern how about some real safety submission policy’s start being enacted?

    Just off the top of my head…how about every time the police pull over a vehicle for a traffic stop the officer who pulls over the car instruct the occupants to remain in the vehicle or they will be shot over the loud speaker from his squad car. Then call in the traffic response SWATT team and one by one have the traffic criminal and annoy one else in the car exit the vehicle and instruct them to lay on the concrete until they and be safely handcuffed.

    Then the traffic citation can be issued and the warrant checks done in a peaceful matter.

    Then everyone can go about their day and make it home to their loved ones without bullets in them or blood on their face or “hands”.

    I will volunteer to help out at the local library during the senior citizen joint tax preparation and police encounter safety is compliance seminars. Heck they can even bring their grand kids. I am sure the police encounter safety is compliance demonstrations in the parking lot will be riveting.

    1. SHG Post author

      If you’re thinking you can patent the idea and make a killing, you might want to wait before ordering the Mercedes.

      1. John Barleycorn

        This is a volunteer effort. Besides this probably won’t go over too well. Something about having to lay face down on the street for traffic violations makes citizens of certain connected social economic stations restless. They seem to be rather immune to it though when other stations are doing the submission. Go figure?

        No worries, I already have the patent on the optional retractable self restraint cuffs that deploy automatically from the roof of your vehicle via a FCC approved signal from the squad car. When you click the bracelets on the officer can verify via biometrics if you are secured.

        I do need some lobbying help to get the highway safety administration on board with the mandate though if you know anyone that is interested.

  4. JLS

    “The video of Morrison’s emotional release after the killing of Richard Ramirez shows that cops are human, that cops suffer an emotional toll from the killing of another person. Yes, it’s worth realizing and important to know. This may not be noted sufficiently as discussions are had about police shootings, that the cops suffer too.”

    I wrote a paper a couple of semesters back about Heinrich Himmler and how he spent a good deal of his time giving speeches to his SS that dealt with how hard it is to do the right thing and kill all those people. He often noted the difficult psychological and emotional toll it takes on his “good men” who implimented the final solution. It’s the “most difficult thing in the world to do but you’re doing it for thte greater good of humanity” was the essense of it.

    Lately reading all these police atrocity stories I keep being reminded of that. We are building up an entire culture of people who are becoming immune to their conscience by their constant brutality or justifying it in their peers.

    I also think his reaction was probably an act. Just like when they are beating someone they all say “Stop resisting ” and “Quit reaching for my gun” because they know the camera is rolling.

  5. jerry

    Occam’s Razor:

    This guy is a masterful method actor presenting his defense, and I do mean masterful, he is very convincing compared to many professional actors


    This guy is traumatized by being in the position of a) fearing for his life b) having to kill another person c) realizing there was no gun

    What would your reaction have been?

    After reading almost everything Joseph Wambaugh wrote I decided that cops should only be cops for about five years, because they get too jaded and cynical after that. Perhaps that applies to lawyers as well.

    1. SHG Post author

      This isn’t fiction. What my reaction would have been is irrelevant, and Joseph Wambaugh writes fiction. Blind speculation based on bias is a waste of space here. If you feel the need to do so, try reddit.

  6. lawrence kaplan

    Jerry: Why don’t you take another look at the video showing Morrison shooting Ramirez. It doesn’t look to me as if 1) Morrison was in fear of his life; and 2) he had to kill anyone. What I saw was foul-mouthed cop treating human beings as trash and unnecessarily escalating a situation.

    I am also struck by how Morrison’s fellow officers were (allegedly) so concerned about his psychological well being. If only the police officers who shot Tamir Rice dead had shown any concern for him.

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