Some people find it unbearable to read what “the other side” has to say about the issues we find clear and substantial. After all, they’re WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!! But neither hiding from contrary views, nor allowing oneself to indulge in outrage does much to help. Reading, understanding and addressing views that are “wrong” is far more productive.
The murder of John Livingston was discussed here and at Fault Lines, by Josh Kendrick. Within this story of a guy killed for doing what the courts tell us he’s entitled to do are two significant problems:
Even more unfortunately, Livingston’s killer was a cop. So now we have a problem. Livingston doesn’t, because he is dead. It will remain to be seen if the killer cop has a problem, because we don’t like to prosecute cops, even for killing innocent civilians.
But in this case, North Carolina law is on the side of the angels. Though its little comfort to Livingston, North Carolina statute § 14-51.2(c)(4) says a North Carolinian can use force against a law enforcement officer who is attempting to enter a home illegally.
The right to refuse to allow a cop without a warrant to force his way into your home is one problem. The right to use force against any person trying to force his way into your home, even if he’s a cop acting unlawfully, is another. But as Josh notes, it doesn’t matter to Livingston because he’s dead.
Josh’s post caught a link from a website called “Glock Talk.” It may sound like an SNL skit, but it appears to be a gun aficionado site that is populated by, or at minimum deeply supportive of, law enforcement. What makes me say this? The trigger warning:
This is a matter of perspective. If what this means is that it doesn’t apologize for cop murdering a guy, then it’s true. On the other hand, if, by “LE-friendly,” it extols the virtues of police acting according to law, then it doesn’t get more LE-friendly. See how that works?
But a comment there struck a chord on the twitters and evoked a great deal of anger. It should have, but that’s not good enough.
The author, though pseudonymous, doesn’t appear to a cop, but rather someone associated with Glockmeister, a gun shop focused on Glocks and support for the Second Amendment. No, there is nothing to indicate support for the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth or Eighth. Some of us support the entire Bill of Rights. Some support only the ones that bolster their enlightened self-interest.
The comment is notably first for its initial reliance on the First Rule of Policing.
From the article: “…the police can’t stand it when someone refuses to comply with their instructions.”
That may be a fair statement, but I think a lot of people fail to take officer safety into account. Slamming the door in a deputy’s face upon learning he has no warrant is just stupid. Resisting arrest is stupid.
Notably, it takes the propriety of the First Rule as a given, that the failure to take “officer safety into account” is a failing on the part of people, rather than a failing on the part of police to be psychologically sound enough to distinguish officer safety from fury, cowardice and violent reaction.
The characterization of “slamming the door” reflects this misguided focus. The source article described Livingston as “closing the door.” Nowhere does it say “slamming.” If something is to be described as “just stupid,” it’s falsifying facts to suit one’s conclusion. While hardly unusual, it reveals the mindset.
But even assuming, arguendo, that the door was slammed, does that raise an issue of “officer safety”? Hardly. Slamming a door in the face of a cop without a warrant won’t stop him from going home for dinner that night. What it will do, however, is challenge his authority to make illegal demands and enjoy obsequious compliance.
And then came a very pragmatic point. That the cop has a gun.
Yeah. You CAN get killed for “knowing yr rights” if it involves escalating with somebody who’s trained to take you down, if necessary.
The assertion of a right to protect the sanctity of one’s home morphs into “escalating,” another way of saying that people should comply with police no matter what, because “you CAN get killed for ‘knowing yr rights.'” Well, that’s certainly true. You “CAN.” You “CAN” get killed by anyone who has a gun, because they have the means.
Of course, that sentence applies with equal force to someone getting killed for exercising his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as well as his Fourth Amendment right to keep a cop out of his home when he doesn’t have a warrant. This is why respecting the whole Bill of Rights matters, including those rights that aren’t your personal favs.
But even that isn’t the line that gave rise to the greatest outrage. Rather, this caught people’s attention:
Your rights are incidental at that point.
This line goes to the heart of the problem. Whether the writer is a cop (which doesn’t appear to be the case) or a badge bunny, it reflects a deeply core belief that explains why more than 1000 people have been killed by police thus far this year.
At the point in time when a law enforcement officer decides, whether by thought or rote, that you’re going to die, your “rights are incidental.” In the law, we discuss ad nauseam the relative merit of constitutional rights. We argue about the lawfulness of police use of force, whether they are, or should be, entitled to maim or kill whenever a police officer feels the slightest twinge of fear.
We question whether the emotion that compelled an officer to draw his weapon and fires a bullet into the body of another human being was really fear or the anger felt by the psychologically fragile who feels the base instinct to attack when someone fails to do as he commands.
In the case of John Livingston, Harnett County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Kehagias wasn’t threatened with harm. He was angered that Livingston failed to do as he commanded. And so he killed him.
Your rights are incidental at that point.
Unfortunately, this may be the strongest argument in favor of using force against the police. If the options presented by law enforcement are comply or be killed, then a third choice would appear to be the only rational reaction since no one wants to die because of some cop’s mental instability. This isn’t just “unfortunate,” but deadly for all involved. Is that what Glockmeister was really shooting for?
Update: In a subsequent comment at GlockTalk, a genius offers this critique:
The limited facts contained in that article could be put into a very short paragraph. The complete facts obviously need to be examined in order to fully determine what happened, why it happened it that way, and whether the actions of the deputies were within policy, lawful and reasonable for the circumstances. Sometimes mistakes of fact or law are made by LE. There can (ought) to be consequences for wrong decisions, within reason and the law, especially when wrong decisions and action harm the public.
The article is apparently written by an attorney who is a partner in a small firm in South Carolina, and who handles criminal defense and civil litigation. Any other news sources that have presented any official statements or released facts and evidence? Something that’s less like a courtroom argument for one side and more informative and objective?
Apparently, clicking on the source link is too hard for “Fastbolt,” thus giving rise to his confusion between commentary on the news and the news itself. Challenging stuff, apparently.
But had he spent his time learning rather than apologizing, he would have seen this:
According to authorities, “a confrontation with an individual resulted in a shooting.” The person involved in the confrontation was pronounced dead at the scene, while the deputy received minor injuries.
Want more? Complain to the sheriff. The opportunity was offered for the sheriff to provide whatever excuses he could muster. He made the choice to offer nothing. And so when there’s a dead body on the ground, a sheriff providing no information and witnesses to the killing talking, this is the story you get.
The cops don’t get a pass until they can come up with a better excuse than the truth. Wait as long as you want for the cops to offer an explanation that meets your preferred narrative. For the rest of us, they gave up the opportunity when the made the deliberate decision to say nothing.