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.
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