Category Archives: Police

The Myth of Police Brutality

These days it has been accepted by the public in large that police brutality is a widespread problem.  The real problem is that no one ever stops to examine if this is actually true or not before it’s accepted as fact.  In this article I’ll demonstrate that true police brutality is an extremely rare event.

In 2008, the roughly 600,000 sworn police officers in America had contact with around 53,000,000 citizens.  Out of those 53 million people, about 26,000 of them filed complaints of excessive force.  And out of those 26,000 complaints, only 2,060 (8%) of them were found to have any merit or evidence to back them up.  So out of 53 million people, 0.0039% of them had a legitimate complaint of police brutality.  Hardly a widespread problem.  (Source is Bureau of Justice statistics.  Source link here)

What about people killed by the police you ask?  I’m glad you asked.  I’ll use 2012 as an example here but you can pick any year in the past 15 or so and get similar results.  In 2012 the police arrested 12,196,959 people.  Out of those 12 million arrests, 426 people were killed by police during arrest.  Now bear in mind those 426 incidents were deemed justifiable homicide (the police were defending their own lives or the lives of others).  So out of 12 million arrests, 426 people died.  That’s 0.0035%.  I tried to make a pie chart of this but the number of people killed was so small it wouldn’t even register on the chart.  The most common retort I’ll hear about this is that not all law enforcement agencies report their shootings to the FBI therefore the number is much higher than that.  Fine.  Instead of using the FBI’s data, let’s use the data from the anti-police website  The founders of this website have gone out of their way to search for every news article in the country where there’s a fatal police encounter and they pin EVERY death on the police so long as an officer was there.  So for example if they have a heart attack in police custody, that’s counted.  If they die from being tased while amped up on cocaine or PCP that’s counted.  If they die in a traffic accident involving a cop that’s counted, etc.  They really go out of their way to pin everything on the cops; intentional, accidental, justifiable, it doesn’t matter.  So even using their wild-eyed statistics, they’ve found around 1,200 people are killed by police annually.  So out of 12,000,000 arrests, they blame the cops for 1,200 deaths.  That’s still only 0.0098%. I mean, even using the most anti-police statistics available, if you have to move to the 3rd decimal place to the right before you register a number other than zero, can you really honestly still insist that police brutality is some kind of major epidemic?

And if you go to you’ll see that the overwhelming majority of people killed by police in these stories were either shooting at police or attacking them with a weapon.

To my knowledge no one has tallied the statistics for people intentionally killed by police where it clearly WASN’T justified, probably because the number would be so minuscule that you’d have to move a dozen or more decimal places to the right before you reached a number other than zero.   I mean, off the top of my head I can only think of two stories that MIGHT qualify in the last 5 years, and that would be Walter Scott and Laquan McDonald, and I think the case of McDonald is still questionable at best.

This is typically where people will go anecdotal.  Where else CAN you go when the cold, hard statistics are debunking your narrative?  They’ll say “I’ve got friends who were mistreated by the police.”  And maybe they do, but I’ve found that there’s usually more to the story than what they’re telling their friends.  The facts don’t lie here, police brutality is an extremely rare event.

A few people (not many) will then capitulate in light of these facts and say “Ok fine, but isn’t even one person wrongfully killed by the police too many?”  Yes, but when you live in a world as sinful as ours, do you really expect perfection?  And at this point you’ve changed the subject, because the question was “Is police brutality a big problem?”  and the answer is no, it isn’t.  I’ve just demonstrated it.

If you’re a Christian, Romans 13 also needs to be considered.

Romans 13:  Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

In light of these facts I really pray that you’ll stop spreading the myth that police brutality is a big problem, especially if you’re a Christian.  If you’ve been living with anger and resentment towards the police and are afraid that they’re going to hurt you for no good reason I hope that you’ll be objective in light of these facts and realize that you’ve been driven to that anger and fear by deceptive and sinister sources who have an agenda.

God calls us to the truth.  Now you know the truth about police brutality.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!”  John 8:32.

Regarding Mario Woods

This post will attempt to explain why the San Francisco Police Department’s shooting of Mario Woods was justified.  The video of the shooting can be found here… (Warning: it does show him get shot)

Before we get started, please read my earlier post titled Why Cops Shoot People With Knives.  That information is important in this case.

In the case of Mario Woods, he had allegedly stabbed a family member and police were flagged down by a witness who saw a man (Woods) matching the suspect description and still holding the knife.  Police responded and Woods refused to drop the knife and surrender.   Bean bags and pepper spray were then apparently used but were ineffective.

I’m not sure if the officers were carrying Tasers or not but it’s irrelevant, as the Taser X26 (the most common model carried by police) has a maximum range of 15 feet, but an ideal range of 7 feet.  That’s well within the danger zone of a knife (21 feet).  They were under no obligation to expose themselves to further danger by trying to get to the ideal 7 feet needed to tase Woods, especially after bean bags and pepper spray couldn’t convince Woods to comply with the lawful commands to drop the knife and surrender. (Update: I recently learned that SFPD officers are not issued tasers so this wouldn’t have been an option even if they wanted)


It’s important to understand that since Woods was the suspect in a stabbing (which is a felony) the police were duty-bound to 1) prevent him from assaulting anyone else, 2) prevent his escape and 3) arrest him.

Preventing his escape is an important aspect to this case.  They have Woods backed up against a wall which is good.  They have something of a semi-circle formed around him as well.  They are duty-bound to protect the public that are witnessing this event and to prevent Woods’ escape.  So all things considered, they’ve done a great job so far.  They tried less-lethal means of disarming him to no avail and they have him surrounded.

And at this point, they are doing nothing but holding their ground and continuing to issue lawful commands to drop the knife and surrender.  It’s Woods’ actions that force their hand.  Woods begins to walk to his right (our left) and one of the officers, in an attempt to contain him, moves into his path.  Again, it’s important to remember that Woods does not have the right to just walk wherever he wants to.  He’s been told he’s under arrest and he continually refuses lawful commands to drop the knife and surrender.  If he had simply remained stationary, the officers likely would have stayed right where they were as well.  If he had dropped the knife and surrendered, he would have been safely arrested.

But that’s not what Woods did.  As Woods walked towards the officer, all while refusing lawful commands to stop, drop the knife and surrender, that officer was reasonable to believe that his life was in danger from Woods as Woods was close enough to potentially stab the officer if he suddenly sprinted towards the officer.  The other officers there were also reasonable to believe that their fellow officer’s life was in danger which justifies them shooting as well (which also explains why Woods was shot so many times, as 5 officers firing a few rounds each adds up quickly).

That’s essentially it.  When you advance towards an officer, whether lunging or not, and you’re around 8 feet away from him, while holding a knife and refusing to drop it or surrender, it’s reasonable for an officer to believe his life is in danger and put a stop to the threat on his safety.  And I’ve got a strong feeling the grand jury will agree in this case.  woods

Many will say the officers could have done something differently, but my question is, what specifically do you have in mind?  They tried bean bags and pepper spray and those things were ineffective.  Should they have simply let him keep walking, wherever he pleased, and run the risk of him escaping or taking someone hostage?  Should they have let him actually start stabbing them before they took action?

How about this, instead of always asking what the officers could have done differently, let’s turn that question around and ask what Woods could have done differently.  For one, he could have chosen to NOT stab a family member (allegedly).  Two, he could have dropped the knife when lawfully ordered to.  Three, he could have stopped walking towards the officer when lawfully ordered to stop.  Any of those things definitely would have led to a result that didn’t see Woods in a body bag.

Indeed, Woods would still be alive if he had listened to the advice from the woman on the video screaming like a banshee: “JUST DROP IT!”


Why Cops Shoot People with Knives

With the recent police shootings of Laquan McDonald and Mario Woods, I’ve seen a lot of armchair quarterbacks asking why the police didn’t simply take the knife away from them and arrest them instead of shooting them.  A pastor named Cole Brown (Twitter handle @colebrownpdx) was one such critic and said even his wife knows how to disarm a guy with a knife and then called all police incompetent. This statement told me all I needed to know about his ignorance of real life combat. A suspect on PCP like Laquan McDonald would’ve carved his wife up like a Christmas ham if she had tried to disarm him, but I digress. The point of this post is to explain why police very often shoot guys that are holding knives.

First let’s start with the legal aspect of it.  Cops are allowed (and in fact duty bound in many cases) to use deadly force if a suspect poses an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to another person.

It should go without saying that a knife, even a box cutter, poses such a threat if wielded by someone intent on using it in an assault.  A knife can put an eye out in an instant.  That’s serious bodily injury.  A knife can sever the carotid artery in an instant.  That’s serious bodily injury at best, but most likely death.  Same with the femoral artery, jugular vein, etc.  There are a lot of places on the human body that are very vulnerable to a blade and it only takes one swipe with that blade-a fraction of a second-to be potentially fatal.  And contrary to popular (but ignorant) belief, the kevlar in officers’ vests will not stop a blade.

Having said that, the mere act of holding a knife and refusing to drop it makes one a serious threat to anyone nearby.   Officers are trained that they need a minimum of 21 feet of distance between themselves and the knife wielder to be considered “safe.”  Some departments have pushed that distance out to 30 feet in their training.

Why?  Because unlike in the movies, someone wielding a knife can’t be easily disarmed of it.  Even if the officers outnumber the suspect, the chances of the suspect getting at least one stab in with the knife before he is subdued are still pretty high.  And as I’ve already stated, one stab is enough to cause SBI or death.  So cops are under no obligation to allow themselves to be stabbed before they’re allowed to protect themselves.

Here’s some pictures of a cop who underestimated a suspect with a knife and thought he could disarm him because the suspect was small.


Watch this training video to see how quickly someone with a knife can close distance and get a stab in before the officer has time to draw his weapon and fire.

What about tasers? The maxiumum range of most police tasers is 15 feet but the ideal range is closer to 7 feet. That puts you well inside the danger zone of someone with a knife. Tasers also require both prongs to penetrate clothing and skin in order to administer an effective shock. The prongs must also be at least a couple of feet apart to be effective. They must also hit an area of the body with lots of big muscles (between the torso and thighs) in order to completely incapacitate a suspect. If both prongs hit an arm, or both prongs hit a leg it may slow a suspect some but it won’t incapacitate them. Thick clothing like a winter coat can often prevent the prongs from penetrating and someone like Laquan McDonald who is on PCP can often times shrug it off even if the Taser connects. In short, the Taser (a less lethal weapon) is not the appropriate tool to use on someone with a knife (a lethal weapon). The same is true of pepper spray, baton, etc. Sometimes bean bag guns or pepperball guns are effective, but officers don’t always have the luxury of waiting for that equipment to arrive, and those tools aren’t always effective either (which was the case with Mario Woods).

So to the armchair quarterbacks that want to criticize police for how they handle people holding a knife, I challenge you to try a little experiment for yourself. Go to the store a buy the biggest red marker you can find (make sure it’s a permanent marker). Take the cap off and hand it to a friend and then put on your most expensive set of clothes and see if you can wrestle the marker away from him before he can ruin your clothes with it. Scared just thinking about it aren’t ya?

Thabiti Anyabwile’s anti-cop bias


Thabiti Anyabwile has been pretty outspoken about his disgust with the American police system.  Recently he posted an article over at the Gospel Coalition titled A Call to Evangelical Pastors: Let’s Do Our Part to End Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration.  I will mostly be addressing that article.

In the comments section of that article, I posted some statistics about police brutality.  Since he had no means to argue with these facts, he simply deleted the comments altogether and said that we were “having different conversations.”  OK, I was sure we were both talking about police brutality, but OK.

Here are the stats I posted.  They were gathered from the Bureau of Justice.  In a given year, around 600,000 officers will have contact with around 53 million citizens.  Of all of those millions of encounters, there are around 26,000 complaints of brutality.  Of those 26,000 complaints, only about 8% were found to have any merit or evidence (believe it or not, people often make false allegations against cops because they don’t like going to jail).  So out of 53 million encounters, there were around 2000 credible complaints.  That’s 0.0039% of all police-citizen contacts resulting in a credible brutality complaint.  If you have to move 3 decimal places to the right before you register a number other than zero, how can you claim that police brutality is an epidemic?

If you want to talk about only people that are killed by police, let’s look at some stats on that (from the FBI’s database).  In 2012, about 12 million people were arrested nationwide.  Of those 12 million arrests, 410 resulted in the police killing the arrestee.  Even if all 410 were completely unjustified murders, that would be 0.003% of all arrests resulting in a murder.  But those 410 deaths were justifiable homicide.  There aren’t any stats collected on unjustified killings, probably because you’d have to move a dozen or so decimal places to the right before you reached a number other than zero.  Or to look at it another way, police successfully made 99.997% of their arrests without having to kill the arrestee.  But we’re supposed to believe that it’s the wild west out there, with cops just shooting anyone that moves, especially if they’re black?  The facts show otherwise no matter what the mainstream media’s rhetoric says.

I’m not sure if this Laquan McDonald shooting was justified or not.  I’m not sure if there was a cover up or not.  But even if something criminal did happen in that case on the part of the officers, this kind of thing is still an extremely rare event.  You’d never know it because the mainstream media trips all over themselves to report these things when they happen.  They don’t bother to report the other 11,999,590 arrests that go down without bloodshed because that doesn’t get ratings.

Furthermore, I wonder if Thabiti is aware of Ezekiel 18:20 which says, “The soul who sins shall die.  The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

Ok, so let’s say for the sake of argument that every one of these controversial cases (Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, etc) was outright brutality by the cops involved.  Should we then hold every officer in America accountable for those officers’ actions?  Especially in light of Ezekiel 18:20?  Isn’t it the height of hypocrisy to hold an entire group of people accountable for the actions of a few, while simultaneously complaining that cops (and other whites) judge the entire black race based on the actions of a few?

Imagine if people wrote Christianity off every time the mainstream media reported a pastor caught in some sexual or financial scandal!  Imagine if they judged you, Thabiti, as being guilty of that pastors sins, and then wrote of “systemic” problems within Christianity because one pastor out of hundreds of thousands was caught in some scandal?  Think that might feel a little unfair?  Now imagine the most widely known Christian pastors were the ones actually judging you guilty of another pastor’s sins.  Think you might feel a bit betrayed by your brothers in Christ?  Yeah, Christian cops feel that way all the time these days.  I can count on one hand the number of widely known Christians that have publicly backed cops over the last year (Voddie Baucham, Franklin Graham and Steve Camp are actually the only ones that come to mind).  The number of them that have bashed our cops are too numerous to count however.

I’ve read enough from Thabiti to know that he’ll say there’s still a problem of “systemic” injustice.  I hear this term a lot, but I’ve still yet to see anyone really define specifically what it is.

There are no laws on the books that discriminate by race.  Possession of powder cocaine is the same offense in the penal code for blacks as it is whites.  Possession of crack is the same offense for both races as well.  Want to argue that harsher sentences were enacted for crack because everyone knows that’s the “poor man’s drug?”  Fine.  (The harsher crack laws were passed in the 70’s by the way, much has changed since then, including the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.)  Want to advocate for making the sentencing for those two drugs exactly equal?  Fine.  That still has nothing to do with police officers.  They don’t write law and they don’t decide punishment.  If there’s an officer out there cutting white people loose when they possess drugs but arresting black people for possessing the same drug, by all means, drop the hammer on him.  If there’s a judge handing out drastically harsher sentences for the same offense to people with the same criminal history in the same circumstances, yes, that judge should be held accountable.  That doesn’t mean ALL judges should be held accountable.  It doesn’t mean there’s an inherent problem within the system itself.  The system itself is designed to be fair, if there are rogue actors within the system that are enforcing it unfairly, hold that actor accountable, not everyone in the “system.”

It’s extremely discouraging for Christian cops to be treated as perpetrators of injustice merely because they wear a badge.  It’s exponentially more discouraging when the people most often painting them in this light are widely known pastors.  More than that, though, I am concerned for fellow officers who aren’t believers.  Where is the outreach to them?  I’ve yet to see an article from anyone that specifically mentions unbelieving cops as being in need of the gospel.   Want to talk about a marginalized people group?  There are 2 cops for every 1,000 American citizens.  Much less than 2 per 1000 are believers I would imagine.  Pretty easy for them to get lost in the fray.  Even easier for those unbelieving officers to write Christianity off should they stumble upon The Gospel Coalition or Christianity Today and see a multitude of contributors throwing them right under the bus.

I actually tend to agree with most of Thabiti’s 7 affirmations and denials.  Thabiti then made 6 things he’s committed to doing, and they are this…

  1. Finding ways to foster meaningful discussions that build neighborhoods.
  2. Investigating claims of injustice so that I might be educated and prepared for sound action.
  3. Demonstrating against injustice.
  4. Advocating for public accountability
  5. Bringing moral pressure to bear on justice issues–especially the end of police brutality, misconduct and the war on drugs.
  6. Brokering solutions and strategies for resolving pressing injustices.

On #1, I’m not really sure what he means by “discussions that build neighborhoods”, that sounds like one of those well-meaning phrases that has no actual tangible meaning.  But as far as fostering meaningful discussion, Thabiti has blocked me on Twitter and deleted my comments on his TGC articles.  It seems he’s only interested in fostering discussions with those who already agree with his premise that police are the big problem in society.

On #2, he says he commits to investigating claims of injustice.  But which injustice?  All injustice?  Including when officers like Deputy Goforth are executed while pumping gas for no other reason than the uniform he wears?  Is that an example of an injustice that Thabiti commits to investigating?  Somehow I think what he meant to say was “I commit to joining in on witch hunts every time a controversial story hits the news involving a white cop killing a black person.”  Perhaps I’m wrong, I’d love to be proven wrong actually, but if Thabiti’s stance towards Ferguson-where he discarded all the facts and still sided with the criminal because of his skin color-is any indication of how he’s going to be “investigating injustice” then I have a feeling I won’t be proven wrong at all.

On #3, Thabiti commits to demonstrating against injustice.  Does this mean he will be marching with the Blue Lives Matter crowd when cops are killed for no reason?  Or will it be the terrorist organization known as Black Lives Matter that he’s demonstrating with?  We shall see, but I have a feeling I know what he means.

On #4, Thabiti commits to advocating for public accountability.  Public accountability for whom?  Officers?  Criminals?  Both officers and criminals?  Again, if Ferguson is any indication, I think we know the answer.  There was no talk of Michael Brown’s accountability for committing a strong arm robbery and then punching an officer in the face and trying to take his gun away from him.  Where’s the public accountability for that?  Didn’t see any demands for accountability from Thabiti, only an insistence that Officer Wilson was guilty of murder despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, followed by a perpetuation of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” myth that was soundly debunked by forensic evidence.

On #5, Thabiti commits to bringing moral pressure to bear on justice issues.  Only if they involve dropping the hammer on cops though.  If a criminal kills a cop, whatever.  If a criminal kills another criminal, meh.

On #6, he commits to brokering solutions and strategies for resolving pressing injustices.  I have no idea really what that means or entails, other than “de-militarizing” the police (a myth in and of itself).

Of all the talk about demanding justice, it seems his idea of justice is dropping a heavy hammer on cops before all the facts are in.  Of all the talk of showing grace and mercy, it seems he only wants grace and mercy for black criminals, there’s none to be given to officers.  And in all of the talk period, I see very little about the concern of the souls of either cops or criminals.  Thabiti committed to doing six things.  Six practical things he plans to do to battle police brutality and misconduct.  None of them included preaching the gospel to officers (or black people for that matter).  None of them included showing them love, mercy or grace.  None of them included calling bad officers to repentance and saving faith.

This is why people say “stick to preaching the gospel.”  God’s Word is sufficient and equips man for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).  God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).  Sure, you can go and march with the Black Lives Matter protesters and interrupt white people’s brunches and join in on the witch hunts when a cop has to shoot someone.  You can gain some cheap applause while doing so.  You can get some pats on the back.  You can get some retweets and likes and shares.  And you’ll also alienate the very people you have seem to take issue with.  The very people who, in your eyes, apparently need the gospel the most, are the very people you’re not interested in sharing it with.  They deserve better.  The Great Commission demands it.

The Myth of Police Militarization


“Militarization of the police” is a frequently used catch-phrase being carelessly used by all kinds of people these days.  It doesn’t seem there’s really been much thought put into the phrase by most who use it.  In fact if I asked most people to define exactly what they mean by the phrase, my guess is that most people who are denouncing it wouldn’t really be able to define what “militarization” even means in this context.

What items, specifically, do people want the police barred from possessing?  Chances are most people don’t really know.  They just hear stories and see  pictures of SWAT members all geared up and assume that it must be “militarization” and “abuse of power.”

So are the police really being “militarized?”  My goal in this article is to answer that question and then ask a few of my own.

Yes, it is true that the U.S. military began selling surplus weapons to police forces such as the M-16 rifle.  What most people don’t realize is that the overwhelming majority (if not all) of those police departments that got the rifles modified the rifles from fully automatic to semi-automatic.  So is possessing semi-automatic rifles considered “militarizing” the police?  No, not really, considering the 2nd Amendment allows your every day citizen to possess them.  Additionally, most departments no longer carry M-16’s but carry the AR-15 which is a semi-automatic rifle that anyone can buy online or at a gun show.


There are other rifles that police carry such as .50 caliber sniper rifles, but again, it’s nothing that an ordinary citizen can’t also possess.  So the police are on equal footing with the average citizen there.

Are there any other weapons that would be considered a “militarization”?  Most people will say “tanks.”  Well, police departments don’t own tanks.  You won’t see any re-purposed Bradley’s or M1A1 Abrams’  with a coat of black paint and a POLICE sticker slapped on it.  What some police departments own are APC’s (Armored Personnel Carriers) such as a Bearcat.


None of them have any canons or even guns on them.  It’s essentially a mobile shield.  That’s it.  And they’re used in bomb disposal calls more than anything else.  And they’ve saved the lives of numerous officers who were taking gunfire.

Citizens can also armor their cars.  It’s not illegal for them to do so.  In fact, a man named James Boulware legally purchased an armored van on ebay.


Guess where the armored van originally came from?  It was surplus police equipment.  Mr. Boulware then used the van, complete with bullet proof windows and port-holes for firing from, to launch an attack on the Dallas Police Department headquarters building before a Dallas SWAT sniper killed him with a .50 caliber rifle.  So is it really a “militarization” of the police for them to own an armored vehicle when any nut job can buy the very same vehicle when the police are done using it?

What about body armor?  Body armor is legal for your average citizen to possess.  Some states do ban body armor from being worn near schools and there is a federal law that prohibits body armor from being worn in the commission of a crime.  But once again, the average citizen is on even footing with the police.

What else is there?  Tear gas?  It’s non-lethal.  Pepper spray?  Non-lethal.  Tasers?  Non-lethal and the citizen version of the taser actually has a longer range and shock duration than the police issued version.

So I ask the question, if you are against the so-called “militarization” of the police, what specific equipment do you want to be banned from police use?  If you say semi-automatic rifles, you’re asking for police to be forcefully obligated to go into battle with potential criminals who are better equipped.  If you say APC’s, you’re asking police to risk their bodies being bullet sponges instead of an armored vehicle and you’re asking them to be at a disadvantage with people like James Boulware.  If you say body armor… well… if you say body armor then you’ve lost all common sense and there’s probably no hope for you.

So to answer the question…


Regarding Tamir Rice

Another controversial police shooting involving a black male. Let’s dig in.

To the layman, the video certainly appears that these officers drove into the situation with bloodlust just hoping to kill someone.

But there’s one blatant, obvious piece to this puzzle that everyone has been overlooking and that is that the officer who shot Tamir Rice wasn’t the one driving the car.

So let’s go over the details and cover some police tactics and training.

The person who called 911 reported a male pointing a pistol at people in the park. He also reported that the male was probably a juvenile and that the gun might be fake. The only information provided to the responding officers was that a male was pointing a gun at people. The dispatcher didn’t relay the additional information that Rice was likely a juvenile and that the gun was likely fake. There’s no way they could have had the foreknowledge that Tamir Rice was only 12 years old (which is actually irrelevant when it comes to being a potential threat) or that the pistol was a BB gun and not a more lethal gun.

So jump into the minds of the officers. On the way to the call they’re probably assuming that the male pointing the gun is an adult, because it’s extremely rare that a child has a pistol and even more rare that they’d be pointing it at people. They’re also probably assuming that the pistol IS NOT a BB gun, but the kind of gun that could end their lives in a flash.

They arrive at the location. Now this is where knowledge of police tactics (or lack thereof) can make someone misjudge how this all went down. You have officer Garmback driving the car and officer Loehmann in the passenger seat. I’m not sure how Cleveland police officers are trained but I’ll step out on a limb and say that they aren’t trained to drive right up to within mere feet of someone who has a gun. But that’s exactly what officer Garmback does. Why? I have no idea. Maybe he somehow didn’t see Tamir Rice until the last second. Maybe his training suddenly went out the window for some reason. But why he did it isn’t as important as the fact that he did it.

Officer Loehmann has no control over the car. He’s utterly at the mercy of how officer Garmback drives it. Garmback did Loehmann no favors by putting Loehmann’s door within mere feet of Rice and exposing him to possible danger. Rice, had he been carrying a “real” gun (BB guns ARE real guns but I digress) could have had the drop on those two officers, especially officer Loehmann, with the way Garmback drove up so close.

Again, at this point the officers have no way of knowing that 1) Tamir Rice is 12 years old (he was 5’7 and 195 pounds; the size of an NFL cornerback) or 2) that Rice’s pistol was a BB gun.

The video shows Rice reach down into his waistband with his right hand, at which point officer Loehmann must have seen the pistol. Maybe Rice was trying to show them the pistol to keep from alarming them but again, there’s no way officer Loehmann could have known if he was doing that or reaching for it with the intention of shooting at the officers. Loehmann, having been placed directly in the line of potential fire by Garmback’s horrible driving, shot Rice immediately upon getting out of the car. Notice at this point that Loehmann is not advancing on Rice as a bloodthirsty murderer, but instead immediately retreats to the rear of the police car to get to a safer distance and use the car as cover. This action indicates that Loehmann was obviously afraid that Rice’s pistol was a danger that could be used against him. Would someone intent on ruthlessly killing a 12 year old kid for no reason whatsoever retreat behind cover as if preparing to be shot at? Whether you agree or disagree with me up to this point you can’t deny that Loehmann was terrified, and justifiably so.

Rice’s BB pistol also had the orange safety tip removed further making it appear to be a real pistol.

Now listen, there is no question that Tamir Rice’s death is extremely tragic. I don’t believe the boy had any ill intentions towards the officers or anyone else. I don’t think most 12 year olds are capable of grasping the weighty ramifications of visibly brandishing what appears to be a real pistol, especially when police arrive on the scene. That’s what makes his death tragic. I wish an adult, preferably his parents, had told him that waving around a pistol and pointing it at people in the park was a bad idea.

But to say that officer Loehmann murdered him in cold blood is simply preposterous. His actions during and immediately after the shooting do not support such an accusation. Officers are required to make split second life-or-death decisions on the job and that’s what officer Loehmann did.


That’s literally how much time Loehmann had to make his decision. He chose to protect his own life, and given the limited information he had (man pointing a gun at people) I can’t find any fault in his decision. Again, if anything, I blame officer Garmback’s poor tactical decision to drive right up on Tamir Rice instead of approaching the scene with caution and stopping at a safer distance from Rice. Had Garmback done that, they might have had the opportunity to tell Rice to put his hands in the air and the whole thing could have been safely de-escalated. But when Garmback drove the car to within feet of Rice combined with Rice’s hand going to his waistband, Loehmann was only really left with one reasonable choice, and that was to shoot before he could be shot.

I know that explanation won’t satisfy most people, but then again most people have never suited up and performed the dangerous duty of a police officer. Most people have the luxury of hindsight and can pick a situation apart with all the time in the world from the safety of their living room. Police officers on the other hand don’t have such luxuries.

Criticism has also been leveled at the officers for inconsistencies or what appear to be lies about how the shooting happened. There are possible explanations for inconsistencies that don’t automatically mean they’re lying or trying to cover their tracks.

From Force Science…

ADRENALINE IMPACT. First, Lewinski points out, there’s the effect of adrenaline on memory.

“This has literally been studied for generations,” he says. “Most studies don’t even come close to exposing the research subject to the level of adrenaline surge an officer experiences in a gunfight or other life-threatening circumstance.

Yet even so, findings from both animal and human studies suggest that when emotional arousal and adrenaline are involved, it takes some time after an incident for the experience to become settled, deeply entrenched, and consolidated in the brain. This adrenaline effect can extend, conservatively, up to a dozen hours or more after the incident, and some research suggests that memory consolidation for extremely stressful and fearful encounters can continue out to a week afterward. This extensive period of post incident consolidation is one of the reasons for the frequently very vivid recall of traumatic incidents. Usually any errors in recall about the event are not in the core but on the peripheral details and can be attributed to visual and attentional focus issues in the incident and not to post-incident contamination or erosion of the memory during the period of consolidation.

Read the rest of that article here it’s very informative on the effects a highly stressful situation can have on memory retention.

It’s quite possible that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the officers may have mis-remembered details such as whether Rice was by himself on the bench or with other people, or whether he told Rice to put his hands up before shooting.

Here’s another fun little exercise to show you an example of how it’s quite easy for human beings to completely miss something that’s plainly visible… let’s see if you can correctly count the number of times the people wearing white shirts pass the ball in this video. It’s an important experiment to help you understand how humans can be mistaken even after being prepared to be correct.

If you didn’t notice the hidden things in that video you’re not alone. It’s human nature to make mistakes. Now imagine being crucified by every media outlet and possibly being charged with a crime because you didn’t notice the gorilla or the changing curtain color or the person in the black shirt leaving the screen. That’s the kind of small margin of error police officers face each day.

Other objections I’ve heard…

“Rice was simply a kid playing with a toy!  It’s what kids do!”

Rice’s “toy” gun was modeled after a Colt 1911.  After the orange safety tip was removed it became virtually indistinguishable from a Colt 1911.  Officers have to treat every realistic looking gun as if it IS a real gun until it can be safely determined that it’s a toy.

“But he wasn’t even pointing it at anyone!”

Wrong, as evidenced here…34306114001_3911285044001_video-still-for-video-3911316537001

Be honest, if you were at the park with your kids and you saw someone doing what Rice is doing in that picture, you’d be alarmed.  You’d probably gather your kids and leave.  You’d probably call 911.  Furthermore, the dispatcher had already told the officers that he was pointing the gun at people.

“But Ohio is an open carry state!”

Yes it is, but you have to be 18 to carry a firearm in Ohio.  Rice was 12.  Furthermore, open carry does not allow one to wave a gun around and point it in public in a menacing way for no reason whatsoever.  That information is important.  Had the officers been told “there’s a guy at the park wearing a gun openly on his hip, but he’s just sitting there not doing anything with it.” then it would be a slightly different situation.  But that’s not what Rice was doing.  Both the 911 caller and the officers were reasonable to think that Rice was behaving in a dangerous manner, not merely a person exercising his open carry rights.  Which, frankly, is the reason that you have to be 18 to open carry, because (most) 12 year olds are not yet mature enough to understand the ramifications of having a pistol in public.

“But Rice never even had a chance to tell them the gun was fake.  He never got a warning or anything!”

Contrary to popular belief, police aren’t required to give a warning if they reasonably feel their life is in immediate danger.  And given how close Garmback put Loehmann to Rice combined with Rice’s right hand going into his waistband, Loehmann was under no obligation to give a warning.

“But shouldn’t the officer have waited to at least see if Rice was even trying to pull his gun out?  Couldn’t the officer have then decided to shoot if Rice did in fact pull his gun and point it at the officers?”

In a perfect world, yes.  In the movies, yes.  But this article from Force Science shows that even if an officer already has his gun drawn and is on target, a suspect can still draw a gun and fire a round at the officer before the officer’s mind can register what he’s seeing and react appropriately.  That’s why you always hear officers scream, “Get your hands up!”  They want those hands as far away from any potential guns as possible.  In Tamir Rice’s case, Rice was so close to Loehmann that when Rice’s hand went near the gun Loehmann felt he had no choice but to stop the threat before Rice could get a shot off.

Now, not every officer is going to do exactly what Loehmann did.  I had a situation once where after chasing a burglar down an alley I finally got to within about 20 feet of him and he turned around and his hand went into his pocket.  I had him in my sights and had slack out of the trigger and was just about to shoot when the burglar finally put his hands up and surrendered.  But if I would have shot him I feel it would have been justified.  If he had a gun in that pocket he could have whipped it out and fired at me before I could have registered what he was doing and shot first.  So even though I didn’t shoot in my situation, I can’t find Loehmann at fault for what he did.  Because the standard is if an officer reasonably fears for his life, and Loehmann had every REASON to believe his life would be in jeopardy if he didn’t shoot first.

“But neither of the officers provided first aid to Tamir Rice after the shooting, so obviously they wanted him to die or at the very least didn’t care if he did.”

Not necessarily true.  Yes, they should have immediately provided first aid, but the fact that they didn’t does not necessarily mean they wanted him to die or didn’t care if he died.  Believe it or not, being involved in a shooting is a highly traumatic and stressful event, even if you are not shot.  That’s why they coined the term “shell shock” in the military.  If you’ve never experienced combat there’s a good chance your first shooting is going to lead to shell shock.  In fact the FBI agent that arrived and DID provide first aid to Rice stated that both officers appeared to be in shock.  I can attest to this in a police shooting I was involved in as a rookie.  A female officer had just called for cover because a man had attacked her while she was trying to arrest him for DWI.  By the time we got to her, she was standing there with her pistol in her hand and the man was down on the ground wallowing and convulsing in a pool of his own blood.  She said he had tried to take her gun away from her.  I wasn’t even there when the shooting happened but even I was experiencing some level of shock.  So many things were running through my mind because I had never been involved in something so stressful that it didn’t even occur to me to try to render first aid to the guy.  A more experienced officer then arrived a minute or two later and kind of snapped us all back to reality and we ordered an ambulance for him and then followed all the procedure we were supposed to.  I learned a lot from that event, but until I had gone through it, I was something of a deer in the headlights even with the training I had received.  Given Loehmann’s inexperience and the fact that he had just shot someone it’s not surprising that jumping in to provide first aid didn’t immediately come to the forefront of his thoughts, even if it should have.  But it absolutely doesn’t mean he was apathetic or hoping Rice would die.

“But, the officers arrested Rice’s mother and tackled his sister when they arrived to see what had happened to him.”

This may come as a surprise, but when family members learn that a loved one (especially a child) has just been shot they’re going to be hysterical, and rightfully so.  Still, despite their justified agony and hysteria, the police still have a crime scene to protect.  They can’t allow family members to rush into the crime scene and contaminate evidence.  For the sake of a thorough and accurate investigation (something that even Rice’s family would want) they have to keep everyone out of the crime scene, regardless of how much pain they’re in.  I don’t know the details but I imagine Rice’s mother was arrested for continually refusing orders to stay out of the crime scene.  There’s also the possibility that she was enraged at the officers for what had happened and posed a threat to the officers if not handcuffed.

To close this out, I want to repeat that I think Rice’s death was tragic. I wish officer Garmback had been more tactically prudent and perhaps officer Loehmann wouldn’t have felt so immediately exposed and vulnerable and perhaps Tamir Rice would still be alive today. But I don’t believe either officer had intentions of killing Rice for no good reason. I believe Loehmann acted in reasonable defense of his own safety after Garmback painted him into such a dangerous corner. I don’t believe either officer should be charged with a crime, but once again, that’s for the Grand Jury to decide, not you, or me, or the court of public opinion.

A response to Ekemini Uwan

This is a response to Ekemini Uwan’s article titled “Eschatology and the Black Lives Matter Movement” which can be found here.

Uwan starts with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr with the idea that his sentiments at that time in 1964 can still be wholly applied to America 2015. The end of the quote says, “If one doubts this conclusion, let him search the records and find how rarely in any southern state a police officer has been punished for abusing a negro.”

To pretend that we can compare what was going on in 1964 with what is going on in 2015 is utterly absurd. Yes, in 1964, there was massive injustice occurring. Yes, in 1964, you can make a strong case that officers frequently got away with abusing black people with little or no repercussions. That is simply not the case in 2015 and to imply that it is not only does a disservice to those black men and women who actually suffered injustice in the 60’s, but it also does a disservice to many of the hard working police officers today who have never had a hand in treating any black person any differently than any other race.

Uwan says, “How is it in 2015, the plight of black people is still one of restricted agency, subjugation, vulnerability and oppression at the hands of those who have sworn to ‘serve and protect’?”

You see I’ve noticed this sentiment among most (not all) black people that it is a GIVEN that police officers as a whole are still committing wholesale injustice against black people. There’s never any actual thought put into the assumption. There’s never any fact checking to see if it’s actually true. Nope, it’s just automatically assumed as an undeniable truth. Those few brave black Christian leaders who challenge this false assumption such as Saiko Woods and Voddie Baucham are immediately scoffed at as Uncle Toms or as just being plain ignorant.

I find this assumption ironic. Because isn’t that exactly the same kind of attitude that black people rightfully abhor when people make assumptions about them? Don’t they strive to be judged, not by the actions of black people as a whole, but by their individual actions? Aren’t we supposed to be denouncing stereotypes and collectivism? Then why is it acceptable to stereotype police officers? It’s not acceptable actually, yet I see it happening ALL. THE. TIME. and hardly anyone speaks out against it except for the families of police officers.

But what about the Rekia Boyds, Eric Garners, Dejerria Bectons, Kalief Browders, Aiyana-Stanley Jones’, and Tamir Rices of America? Isn’t that proof enough that there is widespread oppression by the hands of the police?

No, not at all. In 2012, 12 million people were arrested in America. Of those 9.3 million arrested people, 426 were killed by justifiable homicide. That’s JUSTIFIABLE homicide. Even if all 426 were acts of outright, cold blooded murder, that’s still 0.0035% of 12 million arrests that went down without a problem. But again, those 426 were JUSTIFIABLE killings. How many were unjustified? I’m not sure, but the only story I’ve even heard that remotely fits the profile would be the Scott Walker story in South Carolina where he shot a black man who was running away from him evading arrest after trying to wrestle the officer’s taser away from him.

Yet somehow, despite this EVIDENCE, the assumption that police officers today are really no different from those of the 1960’s or even the late 1800’s goes completely unchecked.

Are there police officers that abuse black people today? Of course. We live in a fallen world. But it’s hardly the single biggest plight of black people in America today. In fact it might not even register as a blip on the radar compared to other things that plague black communities like fatherlessness, abortion and a rampant crime rate including black-on-black crime.


Now that this idea that police officers are the biggest threat to black livelihood has been debunked, I want to address Uwan’s endorsement of the hateful, racist Black Lives Matter movement (hereto referred to as BLM). BLM may have started with good intentions, but after the justified shooting of Michael Brown, it quickly spiraled out of control and evolved into something hateful, racist and violent.

Deray McKesson, probably the biggest proponent of the movement, and someone who has been referred to as the new Al Sharpton (an insult if you ask me), wants to free a woman named Assata Shakur who killed a police officer, grievously assaulted another, and was charged with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, bank robbery and kidnapping. Why does Deray (and the rest of BLM) want her freed? Because she’s black and she “stood up to the man.” No other reason, really. Who cares that she killed another human being, escaped prison and fled to another country. All of that’s forgiven I guess.


And it’s not just Deray that loves this cop killer, nope, Assata Shakur is a beloved figure for all of the Black Lives Matter movement. Just look through the Twitter feeds of their leaders and members and you’ll see them wearing shirts that say “Assata Taught Me”. I’m not sure what Assata taught them to do, perhaps it was the murder of police officers, escaping prison, robbing banks or fleeing the country, but make no mistake BLM loves them some Assata Shakur.

Now listen, I have no issue with Uwan and others if they want to support groups that promote equality and justice, but BLM is not such a group. It may have started innocently enough, but now it exists solely to cause division, engender hatred towards white people and police officers, and promote violence to that end. That is a fact. And no professing Christian should stand behind such a movement, in fact they should be loudly professing their disagreement with it.

I will give Uwan credit in one regard. She hit the nail on the head when she said sin is the root cause of all injustice. Unfortunately, she singled out white people and cops when she said, “Sin has permeated our entire being, and it is the sole source of white supremacist violence, anti-black sentiment, systemic racism, and subjugation.”

Yes, sin IS the sole source of white supremacist violence, anti-black sentiment, systemic racism and subjugation. No disagreements there. My issue is with how one sided this article is. There is no mention of sin being the sole source of fatherlessness among the black community, or abortion, or the fact that 13% of the population commits around 50% of violent crime. As usual, the entire article has a “black people are completely innocent of everything and white people are to blame for all of our problems” vibe to it.

It’s like she’s saying, “White people need to repent of their sin and their supremacy and their privilege and their oppression and their racism and then all will be right with the world, because let’s face it, all of our problems stem from that, so once they repent of all their wrongs then we can usher in the ‘Age To Come’ and black people will no longer be oppressed and they can finally thrive.”

To which I would quote Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

The log: fatherlessness, abortion and black-on-black crime.
The speck: police oppression and “white supremacy.”

While we’re in the book of Matthew, let’s turn to Chapter 6, verses 14-15 which say, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Ms. Uwan, it’s clear to me that there is a bitter unforgiveness in your heart towards white people and police officers. Yes, white police officers committed atrocities to your people in the past. A white cop may have even committed an atrocity towards you personally (although I have a feeling we’d be hearing all about that if it were true). Regardless, you have to let that hatred and bitterness go. Forgive, so that you can be forgiven, before it’s too late.

Regarding Eric Garner

Much has been made of the grand jury’s decision to no-bill the officers involved in the death of Eric Garner.  As someone who’s spent nearly 8 years as a cop in one of America’s biggest cities, I figured it’s time to weigh in.  This will be a pretty lengthy post, because there are a lot of angles to cover. But anything worth learning usually takes some time to learn, so bear with me. Most cops don’t like to bring attention to the dangers we face every single day.  It’s just not considered very manly to talk about it when we are supposed to be brave, courageous, heroic, whatever.  Most cops also just don’t like attention in general, even good attention.  It just makes us uncomfortable.  We certainly appreciate when people thank us for what we do, but it’s still a little awkward.  But given how much ignorance and how many lies are spreading through the minds of society at large, I feel it’s necessary to talk about it, because only one side of the story is being told it seems.


Unlike most people, I do have inside knowledge of police tactics.  I often see comments from people who say the cops should have handled it this way or that way, all from the safety of their couches.  The problem is, despite their best intentions, they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.  Do you tell the doctor how to do his job?  No, because you admittedly have no clue as to what his job entails or how to make the correct decision if you haven’t been trained in his field of expertise.  Feel that’s too much of a stretch?  Fine, how about the military?  Anyone telling soldiers how to do their jobs while they’re in Iraq?  No. This is something you will readily admit with most people’s professions, but when it comes to how police work should be done, people throw all of that out the window.  Everyone’s an expert now.  Everyone’s apparently been through a police academy.  Everyone’s apparently actually faced danger on the streets.  Everyone has a law degree.  Everything could have been done better if only THEY had been the ones making the decisions, right?  This doesn’t mean police should be immune to criticism or even criminal charges themselves, but it does mean that the lay person watching a cell phone video probably isn’t qualified to render a fair assessment of what happened.  That’s what the grand jury does.  They’re presented with all of the available evidence (which you are not) and an explanation of the laws (which you are not), which charges the grand jury are considering (which you are not), witness and defendant testimony (which you are not) and then they come to a decision.


Eric Garner was told he was under arrest for selling cigarettes.  Whether this is a stupid law or not is something I’ll get to later, but it is and was a law in New York City.  A law that Garner was breaking.  A law that Garner had already been arrested for breaking multiple times.  Garner had been arrested 31 times in his short life and was confirmed to be part of an organized crime ring for smuggling cigarettes.  Now before you jump to conclusions and assume that I’m saying he deserved to die for these things, hear me out.  Eric Garner did NOT deserve to die for any of these things.  In case that wasn’t clear, let me repeat myself.  Eric Garner DID NOT deserve to die for selling illegal cigarettes.  He also DID NOT deserve to die for lying to police about his name, driving without a license, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest, or any of the other crimes he committed.  He didn’t deserve to die.  He didn’t.  Am I clear?  He didn’t deserve to die.  I feel the need to repeat this ad nauseum because it seems most people won’t hear or believe that I am trying to convey any other message unless I explicitly and repeatedly say that he DID NOT deserve death for these infractions.


But his lengthy criminal history does say something about him.  What it says is that he had no respect for the law, and apparently the laws and punishments in place did nothing to dissuade him from continuing to break the law, otherwise he would have stopped.  Garner clearly put the financial benefit of illegally selling cigarettes on one side of the scale and on the other side he put the repercussions for getting caught and decided the money had more weight.  It was worth the risk to him.  This is a simple, undeniable truth.  Now hold that thought and let’s talk about the arrest itself.


Garner was 6’3″ and over 350 pounds.  It SHOULD go without saying that if a man of that size decides to fight you, it’s going to be a tough fight.  I say it “should” go without saying because many people think that once a person goes through a police academy and puts on a vest and a gun that they’re an elite fighting warrior who can single handedly kick anyone’s butt with the greatest of ease.  Sure, we get extensive training and yes, we have weapons, but that doesn’t make us invincible.  And yes, there are inherent risks that come with the job.  But we’re not Batman.  We bleed just like you.  We feel pain just like you.  We get injured like you and we die like you.  And no one wants to take a punch or be tackled by someone weighing in at 6’3″ 350, whether it’s a cop or someone who takes punches for a living like boxers or MMA fighters.  A man of that size could in fact kill someone with a single, well placed punch to the head.  It’s been done before by guys much smaller than Garner.  The officers there know that.  The officers there very likely have been assaulted before while trying to make arrests.  I was told in the police academy that if you go through an entire police career without being assaulted and injured then you’ve done an extremely rare thing (and likely sat at a desk for most of your career).  And here’s a shocker, you usually don’t see it coming.  People don’t normally make a habit of warning someone before they throw a punch.  They just throw it.  And by then, the damage is done.


So let’s put ourselves into the officers’ shoes, as much as we possibly can.  They’re up against a very large man.  Much bigger than any single officer there.  They know without a doubt that if this guy decides to fight, someone’s going to get hurt, even if the arrest is eventually made.  Yes, they have the advantage of numbers, but like I said before, it only takes one swing from a guy this big to do some serious damage.  Want to be the first one to fall on that grenade?  The officers there know this is a possibility.  He was also very agitated and had raised his voice and was swinging his hands around in swift, angry movements.  What that would tell me as an officer is that I’ve got a guy that’s not likely to simply turn around and put his hands behind his back.  Those officers very likely had the same fear.  They knew that tensions were high and that they had a powder keg that could explode at any minute.  But they told him he was under arrest and gave him the opportunity to comply.  He refused.  And the moment — the very moment — that Garner pulls his hands away those officers know that things will probably only get worse before they get better.  They’ve already asked him, without laying a finger on him, to put his hands behind his back.  The order was refused.  So the next step was to actually grab his wrist and put the handcuffs on, even though he wasn’t complying with the verbal command.  Again, he refused by pulling his hands away.  Now this is where the first bit of controversy comes in.  What should the officers have done differently at this point?  Continued to ask him nicely with a cherry on top?  Stand around and talk about it for hours on end and hope that eventually out of boredom or exhaustion he finally complies and goes peacefully?  Walk away and let him continue to break the law?  Sorry folks, that’s not the way policing works.  That’s not the way the law works.


The officers then swiftly and aggressively took Garner to the ground.  Was it too aggressive?  I’ve had people pull their arms away from me in an effort to continue arguing or pleading that they shouldn’t be arrested.  I didn’t immediately take them to the ground, but then again none of these people were 6’3″ 350 pounds either.  At the point that Garner pulls his hands away (and thereby resists arrest by New York state penal code definition) there’s an increased risk of injury to the officers the longer they allow this to continue.  And have you ever heard the term “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile?”  Suppose they didn’t immediately take him to the ground.  Suppose Garner continues to pull his arms away any time the officers moved in to put handcuffs on.  Suppose this happens multiple times, and the officers continue to beg and plead and ask nicely for compliance.  Every time this happens, the officers are going to look weaker and weaker and more impotent.  And in Garner’s mind, confidence that he can continue to resist arrest without repercussions is going to grow and grow by each passing second.  The more confidence he has that these officers are a bunch of push overs the more likely he may be to push the envelope even further.  This is all hypothetical of course because the officers didn’t take this route, but you can see where the danger lies for the officers in this scenario.


Now some people may (and probably will) make a case that the officers should have done this anyway.  That they should have continued to ask nicely until Garner finally decided to throw a punch or attempt to run and THEN move in swiftly and aggressively.  The main problem with this logical fallacy is that you’re sending a message that it’s OK to resist arrest and that the officers will be powerless to do anything about it until they’ve actually been assaulted, which can often lead to injury and occasionally death.  If you’re going to set a pretense that officers have to allow themselves to be assaulted and thereby likely injured or possibly killed before they’re allowed to take action, you’re not going to find anyone willing to do the job, especially at what we get paid.  No, the officers have the right to protect themselves from injury and death, even proactively.  I’m not talking about The Minority Report here, I’m talking about being proactive in making an arrest before you lose the element of surprise and thereby the advantage in getting a guy into handcuffs without being hurt or killed.  The kind of take down we saw in the Eric Garner video is not all that uncommon with suspects who begin to resist arrest, especially when they’re as big as Garner was.  And most of the time no one gets hurt, including the arrestee.  Even more rare is that the arrestee dies. If you compared the number of arrests with the number of deaths during arrest the contrast would be astounding.


The difference in the Eric Garner case is that he had asthma and hyper-tensive cardiovascular disease.  These medical conditions are not something that the officers likely knew about when they first approached him.  And even if they did, I don’t think it would or should have changed how they initially took him to the ground.  Once Garner was on the ground he complained of not being able to breathe.  It SHOULD go without saying that officers hear every excuse under the sun from people who don’t want to go to jail.  I don’t think I’ve arrested someone yet that didn’t complain that the handcuffs were painful and asked if I could loosen them or allow them to wear them in front.  When a suspect resists arrest and is taken to the ground, officers are trained, yes trained, to immobilize every part of the suspect’s body possible until the handcuffs are on. The idea is that if their head can move around they can bite you or spit on you.  If their legs can move they can kick you.  If their arms can move they can punch you or try to grab your gun.  If they don’t have weight on their back, they can still get off the ground by pushing off their knees and elbows. This is especially important when dealing with a man of this size.  None of the officers there started throwing punches or kicks or knees or elbows into Garner’s body once he was on the ground.  There was no malicious violence with the intent to injure or to sneak a sucker punch in.


The officers, as they were trained to do, eliminated every potential risk to their safety until the handcuffs went on.  The handcuffing itself is not a quick process either in this situation.  One reason is because there are so many people crowded into such a tight space.  The other reason is because Garner was a morbidly obese man and one pair of handcuffs aren’t going to work.  Most people that large don’t have the flexibility for their wrists to be able to touch behind their back.  So you have to interlock two or more pairs of handcuffs to compensate and allow for more slack.  All of that takes more time.  More time that Garner was being immobilized, and evidently more time that he was having trouble breathing.


As for the “chokehold”, it wasn’t a choke hold at all.  It was not the officer’s intent to choke Garner to death.  That should be clear to anyone who watches MMA fights.  His arm isn’t tight enough around the neck to stop the flow of oxygen like you see in an MMA knockout.  Even if it was, I don’t know that he had his arm there LONG enough to cause unconsciousness.  This is evident by the fact that Garner still has the strength to put his hands on the ground to stop from collapsing altogether.  People who fall unconscious from a rear naked choke suffer from complete muscular failure and fall utterly limp.  That’s not what happened to Garner or he wouldn’t have even been able to say he couldn’t breathe.  What contributed to his death more than anything else was the state of his health.  Healthy individuals can go through the same situation that Garner did and they don’t die.  In fact all of the officers in my academy class went through similar situations several times while we practiced such scenarios.  You play the role of the suspect and the other recruits practice taking you down, immobilizing you and putting handcuffs on you.  Uncomfortable?  Sure.  Deadly?  No.  So if you’re implying that the officers executed this man or intentionally killed him is the height of ignorance and/or dishonesty. And no, that doesn’t mean you’re up the creek if you happen to have a medical condition.  Officers will accommodate medical conditions up to the point where their own safety is in jeopardy.  For example, if an 80 year old grandma points a gun at you, you’re still going to eliminate the threat to your safety.  They made that decision, not the officer.  Eric Garner made the decision to resist arrest, not the officers.


The video that the media probably didn’t show you is that once handcuffed and no longer a threat, the officers moved Garner onto his side which is textbook medical procedure to help facilitate his breathing.  They also immediately called for an ambulance.  They assisted in lifting the 350 pound man onto a stretcher so that he could get into the ambulance quickly.  The man shooting the video says “Why aren’t you doing CPR?” and the officer says “because he’s breathing.”  Yep, you don’t do chest compressions on someone that’s breathing, that will only hurt them.  You do it for someone that’s not breathing and then you stop once they start breathing again.  The paramedic shows up, takes his pulse, they load him into the ambulance and off he goes, where he died before he could get to the hospital.  Essentially, from what I can tell, they took every measure available to ensure their own safety while effecting the arrest, and then took every measure available to tend to Garner’s safety as well.  The medical examiner ruled that the cause of his death was asphyxiation, which I don’t deny.  But the so-called choke hold wasn’t what killed him, it was his medical condition combined with all of the pressure being applied to his chest and head.


But the officers did what was necessary to effect the arrest while maintaining their own safety.  It’s certainly unfortunate that he died, I don’t think anyone believes that he deserved to die for selling loosies, even the officers involved.  But they didn’t treat this guy any differently than anyone else who resists arrest, whether they’re white or black, in good health or bad.  Perhaps this is the reason the grand jury declined to indict these officers for murder.  I certainly wish there could have been a different outcome for Mr. Garner, and I would have liked to have seen what might have happened if they hadn’t piled on top of him with such suffocating force, but I have to re-emphasize that the officers have a right to protect themselves from danger.  And it’s certainly easy to say “The officers weren’t in any real danger, Eric Garner wasn’t being violent he was only being uncooperative.”  And all I can say to that is that it’s easy to armchair quarterback and determine what’s a danger and what isn’t from the safety of your couch.  We can only speculate as to why the officers weren’t indicted given that we weren’t the ones sitting in at the hearing, although I hope my experience and the point of view from an insider can help shed some light on the possibilities and perhaps give you a view that the media or the layman certainly doesn’t have.  Now that we’ve covered that, let’s move onto the bigger issue of some of these ridiculous laws.


Was selling illegal cigarettes really something worthy of such dramatic action?  I will say this, the focus on this particular crime, which is essentially tax evasion, reeks of a “revenue generation” type of law.  No doubt the city makes plenty of money on the extra tax they receive on cigarette sales.  Given the size of NYC you would think that the police there would have bigger fish to fry.  However, I’m not sure why the police were there in the first place.  It’s been reported that some of the local business owners called to complain about him selling loosies, and thereby possibly hurting their business.  There was also something said about him trying to break up a fight.  Regardless of why they were there, they were there.  And once they are there, they’re not really supposed to turn around and walk away, regardless of how trivial the crime is or is perceived to be.  The other problem is that if you allow subjectivity to determine whether or not someone should be arrested for something, you start down a slippery slope.  The next guy might feel like he shouldn’t be arrested for punching his wife in the face.  Should the officers walk away from that too?  Where do you draw the line?  That’s why the law exists, to provide an objective measuring stick.


Want to make an argument that a law like this shouldn’t exist?  I’m actually inclined to agree with you.  NYC law makers are notorious for enforcing their personal views on how people should live their lives, whether it be the size of sodas or smoking cigarettes, I agree that you should mostly be able to do what you want as long as it isn’t hurting someone else.  So was Eric Garner hurting anyone else?  Well, I imagine the business owners that called the police felt that way or they wouldn’t have bothered calling.  Is it fair for officers to look the other way when someone ignores the cigarette laws while the law-abiding business owners are forced to sell their cigarettes at a higher price?  That’s definitely a debatable subject that I won’t get into here, because it’s beside the point of this article.


Whether an existing law is something we agree or disagree with, it’s still a law.  And law enforcement officers are obligated to enforce them.  Is there a certain amount of discretion allowed by officers?  Of course, but when a tax-paying, law-abiding business owner calls to report that the law is being broken, how does it look if the officers show up and ignore what they see?  You want to talk about a lack of trust towards officers?  How about if they just start picking and choosing which laws they want to enforce?  Do you see where this leads?  No, officers don’t enforce EVERY violation they see, otherwise they’d do nothing but cite for jay walking and minor traffic violations all day.  A certain amount of discretion is definitely necessary, but if the officers ignore what Eric Garner is doing they lose the trust of law-abiding citizens.  If they enforce the law, and someone tragically dies as a result of that enforcement, they still lose the trust of everyone. Again, discretion is the better part of valor, and again, that’s why Eric Garner’s lengthy criminal history comes into play.  If it was the first time he had been complained on for selling loosies they might have very well told him to hit the road.  That wasn’t the case here, however.  For all we know, the officers did attempt to use discretion and asked Garner to leave.  Maybe he refused, and therein lies the conflict.  Maybe one of these officers had crossed paths with Garner before or had checked his criminal history and saw that he’d already been arrested multiple times for the same offense and didn’t feel like walking away or writing a ticket was the appropriate response.  Either way, they weren’t obligated to walk away.  They were within their rights to arrest Garner and they did so.  The fact that he died is another matter altogether and needs to be treated as such instead of lumping it all in one category.


I can understand where people would be upset that a man is dead, and had this law not been in effect to begin with, he’d probably still be alive.  Makes sense.  For the sake of argument let’s say I even agree with you.  So what should we do?  Well, we need to find a way to do away with that law (or any others that we disagree with).  That’s where voting comes in.  That’s what democracy is about.  And although democracy is obviously preferable to a dictatorship, there are plenty of things wrong with the American political system.  It definitely seems rigged from the start.  Often times the candidates that you’re given the option of voting for are merely slightly different faces on the same side of the coin.  What we probably need is a whole new coin.  But until we can find a way to get that whole new coin, we have to find a way to work with what we DO have.  And until that day comes, it’s not fair to police officers to ask them to enforce the laws that are in place and then hang them out to dry when they do so.  That’s putting the cart before the horse.


People often talk about how cops are immune from prosecution if they break the law.  This is patently untrue.  If this were the case, the officers involved with Eric Garner’s death never would have gone before the grand jury.  Same can be said of Darren Wilson.  There’s a system of checks and balances in place, and officers are well aware of it.  You may not agree with a grand jury’s decision on a particular case, but the fact remains that there’s a process by which cops (and everyone else) are examined to determine if they deserve to do jail time for their actions.  The grand jury in Eric Garner’s case examined all the evidence and made their ruling.  They’re the only ones that had access to all of the available evidence, myself included, so we should probably respect their decision. I can assure you that officers have gone before grand jury’s before and have been indicted and subsequently found guilty of crimes and have gone to prison.  Just because it didn’t happen in Eric Garner or Michael Brown’s case doesn’t mean it never happens, so don’t fall for that straw-man argument.


But there’s still one thing we haven’t talked about yet.  Eric Garner’s own involvement in his death.  Again, let me repeat in case you forgot, Eric Garner did not deserve to die for illegally selling cigarettes.  We good on that?  OK.  But the fact still remains that Eric Garner’s decisions played a role in what happened.  If you’re in bad shape, have asthma and cardiovascular disease, which Garner knew he had, I’m not sure that resisting arrest is the smartest thing to do.  He had been arrested 31 times, how did he think it was going to go down if he resisted arrest?  Did he think that they would hit him with pillows and throw marshmallows at him until he put his hands behind his back?  Why does society gloss over this fact?  Why is it suddenly OK for people to break any law they please and if the police step in to do ANYTHING about it, we’re putting them on trial instead of the instigator?  At what point in time did we lose the idea of taking responsibility for our decisions?  Much like in the case of Michael Brown, if Eric Garner had simply complied with the officer’s commands, he would very likely still be alive today.  Yes, he might be in some trouble, but he’d be alive.


The next argument I can hear coming is “the Jews complied with everything the Nazi’s said and look where that got them.”  This kind of massive leap in logic is such a flawed analogy.  To compare America’s police force with Nazi Germany is laughable and quite frankly offensive to the families of those who actually lost loved ones in the Holocaust.  There are no cops in America forcing people of any race into gas chambers just for being a certain race.  There are no massacres taking place in America.  I can understand where blindly following every law right up until you’re standing in your own grave is a problem.  I don’t believe that’s the place that America is in right now.  Yes, Eric Garner and Michael Brown were both black.  But that’s not the common denominator.  The common denominator is that they both resisted arrest or outright attacked police officers (in Brown’s case).  I’ve still yet to see a guy end up dead because he said, “Yes sir.” and put his hands behind his back.  That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen, and if it does it’s such a rare anomaly that to try to argue that it’s commonplace is absurd.  To make the assumption that either of those men were killed solely because of the color of their skin would make you just as prejudiced if not more so than the people you’re accusing.  The irony of it is palpable.


And here’s the danger of it all.  Police officers around the country are taking notice of what’s going on right now.  When they have to start worrying about being thrown under the bus, indicted, prosecuted and thrown in prison every time they are required to make an arrest, they’re going to stop making arrests.  Now some of you might think that would be a good thing.  And you know what, some of it might be.  But eventually the pendulum will swing so far in the other direction that crime and lawlessness will run rampant in our country.  And when people say, “Why aren’t the cops doing anything about this?”  All you will hear in reply is, “There was a time that we tried to, and we’d actually like to, but I don’t want to end up in prison for doing my job.”  It already happened in Ferguson.  People were asking why the police weren’t doing anything about the looting and arson five minutes after they complained that the police are a bunch of invasive storm troopers.  It really is a can’t-win situation for cops these days.


One of the more frequent things I’ve been hearing from black leaders is along the lines of “Ask yourself why this many people are upset!”, “Why can’t you just understand what black people go through?”, “Why can’t you just mourn with us instead of trying to rationalize everything away?”  Those are good questions.  And whether someone agrees or disagrees that the black community SHOULD feel that way, it’s important to acknowledge that they DO feel this way.  I mentioned that people have no idea what it’s like to be a cop unless they ARE a cop, the same logic applies here.  It’s true, I have no idea what it’s like to be black.  I have no idea what that feels like.  I haven’t experienced pain or fear that comes as a result of being black.  I can empathize with the black community in one aspect however.  I absolutely DO understand what it’s like to be judged because of the poor decisions of a few members of my “race”, my brothers and sisters in blue.  And while I don’t believe Darren Wilson or the officers involved in Garner’s arrest are guilty of murder, I can acknowledge that there are bad cops out there that do bad things.  To suggest otherwise would be dishonest.  And when someone believes that I’m just as guilty as they are because of the uniform I wear, it makes me angry, it makes me sad, and it feels unfair.  So I can empathize with that.  We have some common ground there.


And that’s really my biggest concern.  And to be honest, I can handle it if someone dislikes me, whether they have a legitimate reason to or not.  Trust me, if your happiness is based upon whether or not you’re liked, you won’t have a very enjoyable career as a cop.  My real concern is that this sudden surge of hatred towards police will end up getting my fellow officers injured or killed.  Another concern is that there will be officers out there who will take that hatred that’s being directed at them and turn it back around on the public.  And the domino effect will very quickly spiral out of control.  I can’t tell you how much I would hate to see that happen, for my fellow officer’s sake AND for the public we serve.  No one will win in that situation.


If that does happen, however, I feel there’s one entity that will be mostly to blame.  Not black people.  Not white people.  Not the police.  No, the media will be the one to blame.  The media loves to stir up controversy.  They love to stir up emotions.  That’s what sells.  So take a few minutes to see past all of the sensationalism with me and let’s just look at some cold, hard numbers.


This is a popular chart I’ve seen going around lately…



I guess this is supposed to be a “gotcha” kind of statistic.  And honestly I couldn’t find this exact chart anywhere on the FBI’s website.  I could never find where it broke down by race the people that were killed by officers during arrests, it only listed the total number of people killed in justifiable homicides and what weapons were used, which can be found here .


I also noticed that on charts where the FBI does categorize by race, the only categories are black, white or other, yet this chart lists Hispanic.  So the validity of this chart is now in question, although I’ll gladly admit I’m wrong if someone can point it out to me.  But let’s take a look at what this is really saying.  The first line of “US Population” is supposed to serve as an accurate comparison for how much more often black people are being killed by police during arrests.  The thought they want to invoke with this is “Look, only 13% of the entire US Population is black but 31% of people being killed by cops are black, cops are racists.”  At face value I can see how this would seem unjust.  What if fails to report is what percentage of blacks are being ARRESTED compared to other races.  In 2012, the same year of this chart, 28.1% of all people arrested were black.  So in reality, you have 28.1% of all arrestees being black, and in comparison 31% of all people being killed during arrest are black (if the above chart is even accurate).  A difference of less than 2%.  Hardly evidence that there’s some kind of wide spread, wholesale killing of black people during arrests that aren’t happening to other races. David Klinger, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St.Louis, says that black cops statistically kill about the same amount of blacks that white cops do.


But since we’re going to bring charts and statistics into the fray, let’s look at a couple.


According to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), an estimated 320,082 whites were victims of black violence in 2010, while 62,593 blacks were victims of white violence. That same year, according to the Census Bureau, the white and black populations in the U.S. were 196,817,552 and 37,685,848, respectively. Whites therefore committed acts of interracial violence at a rate of 32 per 100,000, while the black rate was 849 per 100,000. In other words, the “average” black was statistically 26.5 times more likely to commit criminal violence against a white, than vice versa. Moreover, blacks who committed violent crimes chose white victims 47.7% of the time, whereas whites who committed violent crimes targeted black victims only 3.9% of the time..


Where is the outrage over that statistic?  Or how about this one…

If black lives matter, and they most certainly do, wouldn’t it behoove us to focus our attention on the group that’s killing 91% of black lives? According to Pro Publica, only 2.8% of all black murder victims were killed by the police since 1976.  So let me get this straight, there’s national outrage over the 2.8% of blacks killed by cops, but the nation doesn’t seem to mind the 91% of blacks killed by other blacks?  What message does this send?  It screams “We only care if cops are killing us, otherwise it’s no big deal!”   And again, it’s hard to even find fault with the black community over this discrepancy when it’s the media that cherry picks which stories everyone sees.  If you were shown a cell phone video of every time a black man killed another black man, it would drown out the relatively miniscule amount of videos you’d see of a cop killing a black man.  This statistic cannot be ignored.


There’s a growing assumption out there that all cops are just trigger happy, violent people just hoping to kill someone if an arrestee shows the slightest bit of resistance.  In 2012, 12 million people were arrested across the nation.  Of those 12 million, 410 people were killed by justifiable homicide.  That’s 0.0035%.  Myth busted.


Let’s take a look at another chart…



This chart shows that although 13% of the US population is black, 43% of officers killed in the line of duty were killed by blacks.  See how charts and stats can be twisted to fit an agenda?


The point of this article was not to say that police officers are always right.  The truth is, we’re not.  We make mistakes.  We’re human, so how could anyone expect anything else?  And believe it or not, we face the consequences of those mistakes just like everyone else.  And our mistakes are usually under the microscope, for the whole world to see.  No, the point was to get you to maybe see things from a different angle, to stop and think things through with a rational, logical thought process devoid of sensationalism.  To determine if wrong doing actually occurred before you bring out the noose and throw it around an officer’s neck.  My hope is that you’ll at least attempt to put yourself in a cop’s shoes before coming to snap decisions.  Do some research on your own instead of swallowing every story the media spoon feeds to you.  I think a little bit of understanding can go a long way, on both sides of the racial line as well as both sides of the thin blue line

Regarding Sandra Bland

Another viral video involving a black citizen and a white cop. And another smattering of anti-police rhetoric from the evangelical intelligentsia. It’s becoming a common theme.

This time it’s involving a black woman named Sandra Bland who was stopped by a white Texas State Trooper for failing to signal a lane change. Video here… [WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE]

Now, before I get into the particulars of this case, I need to address something. As usual, there’s the Romans 13 refresher…

Romans 13
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

Now, as Christians, is there ever a time that it’s OK to disobey an order from a cop? Yes, there are 2 such occasions and here they are.

#1 – When an officer tells you to do something that violates God’s commands.
Example: An officer tells you to worship Buddha or go to jail. A biblical example of something like this is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were told by the authorities (Nebuchadnezzer in this case) to stop worshiping God. They obeyed God rather than man. But notice something, they didn’t attack Nebuchadnezzer. They didn’t resist arrest. They didn’t attempt to flee. They simply obeyed God and accepted the consequences, which in this case was to be death in a fiery furnace. The Bible is full of examples like this.

Matthew 26:50 says, “Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Simon Peter was trying to prevent Jesus’ arrest (talk about an unlawful arrest!) and Jesus rebuked him for assaulting the high priest. The apostles were arrested and martyred yet you’ll never find a single verse where Jesus or the apostles encourage resisting arrest, assaulting a Roman guard, trying to stage an insurrection, etc.

#2 – When an order from the officer is unlawful.
If an officer tells you to shoot yourself in the head or be arrested, yeah, that would be a good time to disobey the order. But again, that never grants you the right to resist arrest, attack the officer, try to kill the officer or try to run from the officer. Even if you’re being arrested for something bogus, we as Christians have a duty to respond a certain way. There is still recourse for you. It’s probably in your best interest to still do as the officer asks, and if you were illegally arrested, by all means do whatever you legally can to get justice. That might mean going to the news, that might mean suing the officer for damages, getting him fired, whatever. But fleeing, resisting or assaulting is NEVER the appropriate action for a Christian (or anyone else) to take.

Expounding on point #2, if you’re going to disobey an order from an officer because you think the order is unlawful, you’d better be 110% sure that you know what you’re talking about. I would say 99% of the public doesn’t. They think they do because they watch police dramas on TV, or they have a degree in criminal justice, or they know someone who knows a cop/lawyer/judge who told them they were right. Let me just tell you as plainly as I can: there’s an high astronomical chance that the officer knows the law better than you. So if you’re going to play that card you’d better really know what you’re getting into. If you haven’t spent at least 6 months studying the law (and sometimes years in addition to that practicing it and enforcing it) like police officers do, then chances are you don’t know the law quite as well as you think you do.

Now, having laid that groundwork, let’s get to the Sandra Bland arrest.

She was stopped for failing to signal a lane change. The officer goes back up to her car with a written warning. If she had simply signed it, she would have been on her way in a matter of minutes, and very few of us would even know who Sandra Bland was. Instead, she copped an attitude. She copped an attitude before even knowing what was going to happen. She had no idea that the officer initially had no intention of arresting her or even giving her a ticket. Instead, she’s mad that she’s even being stopped, and it must have been written all over her face as the officer asks, “Are you OK?” Then she vents about how irritated she is about getting a ticket (even though she wasn’t getting one.) Now I can’t read the officer’s mind, but my guess is that after all the attitude he received, he changed his mind about letting her off with a warning.

He asks her, in an EXTREMELY nice way, to put out her cigarette. She refuses and gives more attitude. He then commands her to step out of the car.

This is where most of the confusion comes in. Why was he asking her to put out her cigarette? Is she legally obligated to? Is she legally obligated to step out of the car? The answer is yes, she most definitely IS obligated to step out of the car if the officer asks her to.

Pennsylvania vs Mimms led to a Supreme Court ruling that an officer CAN lawfully order someone to step out of the car during a traffic stop. (Read up on it here if you desire)

Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977), is a United States Supreme Court criminal law decision holding that a police officer ordering a person out of a car following a traffic stop and conducting a pat-down to check for weapons did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

She refused the lawful order to exit the vehicle. Now, back to the cigarette. A cigarette can be used as a weapon to stick into the officer’s eye, especially if the violator then plans to flee or assault the officer further. He was probably thinking proactively when he asked her to put it out, but regardless, that plays no bearing on whether or not she had the right to remain in the car.

And aside from Pennsylvania v. Mimms, he could have arrested her solely for the failure to signal intent to change lanes. Yes, you can be arrested even for a traffic violation. The only exceptions are speeding and open container in the state of Texas. Most of the time an officer will give the violator an opportunity to sign a promise to appear in court (a citation/ticket) instead of arresting them and taking them directly to the magistrate right then and there, but in the state of Texas he’s well within his rights to arrest her so long as the violation isn’t speeding or open container. (Read up on that here should you wish to.)

So there should be no confusion now as to whether or not he had a right to tell her to exit the car.

He asks her multiple times to exit the vehicle. She refuses. He tells her he is giving her a lawful order (and he is, as I just showed you) and if she doesn’t comply he will drag her out of the car if necessary. Once again, she refuses. Finally, after being warned that she will be tased if she doesn’t comply, she complies.

Understand something else, when you’re under arrest, you no longer have the right to hold your phone, to continue video taping, to call your mom or to call your lawyer. Yes, you are allowed to make phone calls, after you’ve been booked into jail. Phone calls are not allowed to be immediately made because suspects can (and have) called family and/or fellow gang members to come and help the arrestee escape custody or kill the officer.

After the handcuffs are on, she continues to move around despite the officer telling her to stand still on the sidewalk. This creates a danger for the officer. You may say, “What danger could she be if she’s in handcuffs?” At which point I would ask you to consider the families of these 8 officers who were killed by handcuffed suspects (and there are many more stories than just these.)

Apparently at some point she attempts to jerk away from him and kicks him in the shin and he forcefully subdues her to prevent further injury to himself. That’s assault on a peace officer, folks. Cut and dry. Simple.

Some have complained that they “illegally searched her car” but officers are required to take an inventory of the vehicle if it’s going to be towed. The purpose is to document all property inside the vehicle so that nothing will “go missing” from the vehicle. It’s to protect the property of the driver and it also protects the officers from false allegations of theft.

Once the officer books an arrestee into jail, the staff at the jail takes custody and the officer leaves. Those who want to blame the arresting officer for Sandra Bland’s death are being absurd. Yes, you can say “Well if he had never arrested her she wouldn’t have ended up dead in a jail cell.” Yeah, we can play the Butterfly Effect game all day. If that TV show I was watching wasn’t so interesting I wouldn’t have stayed up so late watching it and I wouldn’t have hit my snooze button that extra time the next morning, and I wouldn’t have been running late for work, and I wouldn’t have been speeding, and I wouldn’t have ran that red light and T-boned another car in the intersection. So hey insurance company, go after the producers of that TV show OK? It’s their fault!

By that logic any time anyone ever dies in jail, the arresting officer is to blame for their death.

Many have said that Sandra Bland’s death is suspicious and they have already made up their minds that someone murdered her. There’s just no possible way that she would have killed herself they say. But the fact is that by her own admission she was suffering from depression and PTSD, as seen in this video…

In addition, she disclosed that she had attempted suicide in 2014 and reported that she was feeling depressed on the day she was booked in (read more on that here)

Perhaps she was murdered. (Autopsy showed no signs of a defensive struggle and her neck had ligature marks consistent with hanging herself) But to smugly sit there and say “I KNOW she didn’t kill herself, therefore someone HAD to have murdered her” is ridiculous. How could anyone possibly KNOW that unless they were there to witness it? People commit suicide all the time and the unsuspecting family members always say, “I just never saw it coming. Sure, they had some problems. Sure, they struggled with depression sometimes, but I could never have imagined they’d kill themselves.” That kind of story happens ALL. THE. TIME. Did anyone see Robin Williams killing himself? How about Heath Ledger?

Maybe an investigation will show that she was murdered. But don’t you think, especially in light of Ferguson, that we should wait for the facts to come in? Especially as Christians? Shouldn’t we wait for an investigation to be done before we make accusations of racism and murder? Listen, we can mourn with those who mourn without making wild, uneducated accusations. It’s tragic that Sandra Bland died, whether it was suicide or murder, the loss of her life is tragic because yes, her life mattered! But can we agree that officers lives matter too?

As Christians, shouldn’t we be hesitant to demand a pound of flesh from a police officer until there’s some evidence that he is guilty of some wrong doing?

Look, if you want to argue that taking a person to jail for failing to signal a lane change is ridiculous by all means make that argument. But the emotions facts say that the officer was within the parameters established by the Texas Transportation Code to arrest her. If you don’t like it, petition to get the laws changed, but resisting arrest is not the answer. In fact it’s Biblically indefensible.

Edit: Sandra Bland’s autopsy revealed no signs of a struggle, her death has been ruled suicide.

Edit: Many are complaining that Sandra Bland wasn’t read her Miranda rights.  Most people (due to TV) don’t understand the function or applicability of the Miranda warning.  A Miranda warning is usually given if the officer isn’t sure about something and needs to ask the suspect a question.  Any answers to said questions before the Miranda warning is given can be thrown out of court.  The Miranda warning notifies the suspect of their rights to NOT answer any questions if they don’t want to and also warns them that from that point forward, any information that they do give can be used in court against them.  In the case of Sandra Bland, the officer wasn’t asking her any questions pertaining to the offense she committed.  He already had everything he needed to arrest her, he didn’t need to go fishing for clues by asking her questions.

A response to Mike Cosper

This is a response to Mike Cosper’s blog titled “McKinney, Privilege and our Circle of Concern” which can be found here.
The relevant video is found here. (Warning: foul language)
I’m still seeing an alarming number of professing Christians who appear to be either utterly ignorant of the law and the enforcement of that law or they simply don’t care because they’re letting their feelings override good common sense.
Cosper says, “There’s something so stark, so nauseating, so horrific about the video footage of a police officer violently throwing a teenage girl to the ground and planting his knees on her back while she screams for help and cries out for her mother.”
Cosper, like most other Christians consumed with white guilt, completely fails to mention the reason this happened in the first place.  Or perhaps he’s completely ignorant of the reason why, or perhaps he doesn’t care.  The problem is, these things matter.  You can’t ignore certain aspects of a situation like this and focus only on what appears to be a “violent” take down.
So if Cosper is indeed ignorant, I aim to eliminate that excuse from his reasoning.  Since I’m stubborn enough to care about things like facts, truth and reality over raw emotion, let’s look at this objectively.
It’s already been established that the pool party was against the HOA’s rules.  A security officer, who represents the HOA, had already instructed her and the other party goers that they were not allowed onto the private property.  So according to the Texas Penal Code, the party goers were guilty of an offense called Criminal Trespass.  I’ll paste the relevant portion of the Texas Penal Code for you to see…
CRIMINAL TRESPASS  Texas Penal Code Chapter 30.05
(a) A person commits an offense if the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent and the person:

(1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or

(2) received notice to depart but failed to do so.

(b) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Entry” means the intrusion of the entire body.

(2) “Notice” means:

(A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;

(B) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;

(C) a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden;

The security guard (who acts as an apparent authority for the owner of the pool) had notified Dajerria Becton (the young black girl in the orange bikini) that she was not allowed to be on the privately owned property (satisfying condition #1) and requested that she depart, which she failed to do, (satisfying condition #2)  At this point she’s guilty of the offense and can be lawfully arrested.  In case the security guard somehow failed to notify her, Officer Casebolt also commanded her to leave, but she didn’t respect officer Casebolt’s lawful command either.

At this point, officer Casebolt is under no obligation to continue to ask her to leave.  She appears to be thinking about leaving, but stops to linger some more while officer Casebolt tells a separate group of people to leave.  The video doesn’t show what she said to the officer, but even she admitted “i guess he thought I said something rude to him.”  Clearly whatever she said made the officer feel as though Ms. Becton needed to be arrested for Criminal Trespass instead of merely being given yet another opportunity to simply leave.  And again, the officer was under no obligation to give her multiple warnings to leave to begin with.

Just as with the Eric Garner case, this is where most people really get appalled.  The video is too distant, shaky and off-center to capture exactly what happened, but my educated guess is that he told her she was under arrest and she immediately resisted the idea and began to argue.  And this is something that needs to be stressed to everyone: if an officer lawfully tells you that you’re under arrest, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO RESIST THE ARREST.  It doesn’t matter how unfair you think it is.  It doesn’t matter that other people were allowed to leave.  It doesn’t matter what race you are.  It doesn’t matter what race the officer is.  It doesn’t matter if the officer was verbally rude to you.  You comply with the lawful commands.  And if you don’t, you will be physically subdued using whatever force is necessary to effect the arrest.

The officer then moves in to arrest her, and my educated guess is that she pulled away and resisted arrest.  At this point he could have charged her with resisting arrest if he wanted to (and I think he should have).  The officer forcefully takes her to the ground.  Does it look bad?  Sure it does.  Forcing another human being to physically do something they don’t want to do is never going to look “good.”  There’s not a graceful way to physically force someone to do something they don’t want to do.  The bad appearance of this takedown is compounded by the fact that he’s white and she’s a young black female wearing only a bikini.

So to sum up the arrest itself…

  • It was established that Ms. Becton was committing an arrestable offense. 
  • The officer gave her a chance to leave with no repercussions. 
  • She declined that opportunity. 
  • The officer attempted to arrest her. 
  • She resisted arrest. 
  • He used the level of force necessary to effect the arrest.

Did she sustain injury?  Not to my knowledge.  Still, Cosper wasn’t too happy and tweeted this…

It doesn’t matter what any of us thinks is an acceptable use of force, what matters is what the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure tells us is an acceptable use of force.  Here’s what it says….
Art. 15.24. WHAT FORCE MAY BE USED.  In making an arrest, all reasonable means are permitted to 
be used to effect it.  No greater force, however, shall be resorted to than is necessary to 
secure the arrest and detention of the accused.
Mike, could you explain to the class exactly what the officer should have done differently?  Should he have asked her pretty please with a cherry on top to comply with the arrest?  Should he have attempted to somehow perform a Jedi mind trick to get her to comply?  What exactly should an officer do, when someone physically resists his attempts to restrain them, especially when he has no handcuffs?  I eagerly await your answer to that question, Mike.  It would really save both officers and arrestees a lot of grief if you know of a better way.

Back to Cosper’s words, he says, “It’s even more nauseating in the wider context of the video, where boys with black skin are being systemically culled out of the crowd and told to sit while white folks seem free to move about.”  

I’m not even sure what he’s talking about here.  Did you even watch the video?  Are you talking about the guy in the tan shirt and denim shorts?  Pretty sure that guy wasn’t one of the people attending the party and refusing to leave the pool.  Most people don’t show up to a pool party wearing denim shorts and tennis shoes and a button up shirt.  No, I think anyone that has put any thought into this video at all can probably tell that this man wasn’t one of the party goers who was causing a disturbance at the pool, and officer Casebolt probably recognized that as well.  And can you also mention all the other black people that were allowed to leave?  Could it be that certain individuals there were a bigger problem than others?  Must we ignore those possibilities for the sake of detaining an equal number of white people (if there even were an equal number of white people there?)  Could it be, Mike, that you don’t have the full story to know why certain people were detained and others weren’t?  As you said yourself…

You might want to follow your own advice in this instance. 
Cosper says, “And it’s chilling to see the cop pull a gun when the girl’s friends try to step in and help her.”  Help her with what Mike?  Help her break the law?  Help her resist arrest?  Help her escape a lawful arrest?  What you call help is what the Texas Penal Code calls Interference with Public Duties, and it’s a crime.


(a) A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with:

(1) a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law;

Cosper then retweeted this gem from notorious race-baiter Deray…
Wrong.  The officer drew his gun because he was out numbered by a dozen angry people that were shouting and moving in on his blind spot.  His holstered gun was exposed and within arm’s reach of these angry people, particularly the man in the turquoise ball cap who lunges towards the officer and appears to be reaching into his waistband with his left hand.  So yes, he drew his gun. 
His actions were reasonable.  And he probably didn’t want to end up like this officer, who was blindsided while trying to make an arrest. Or like this officer who took multiple punches in the face from an onlooker while trying to arrest someone else.
Is this the kind of thing you had in mind when you spoke about a friend stepping in to help her? 
 Mike, if you were surrounded by a dozen people shouting and yelling and cursing at you while you tried to do your job, and suddenly out of the corner of your eye you see one of them bum rushing you while your attention is turned to someone you’re trying to lawfully arrest, do you think that might be a little scary Mike?  Have you given no thought whatsoever to the fact that officer Casebolt is a human being just like you, capable of being injured and killed?  Have you given no thought to the fact that he would like to go home at the end of the day to his family?  Have you given no thought to the fact that he doesn’t want to leave his wife a widow and his children fatherless?  Have you allowed culture to influence your mind to the point that you forget there are human beings, created in the image of God, wearing those uniforms? 
 Cosper continues, “Is her plight – and the plight of those who are subject to the officer’s abusive speech – something we should feel compelled to respond to, or something we can in good conscience shrug our shoulders at?”
 What plight are you talking about Mike?  The fact that she was uninjured while being lawfully and legally arrested for committing a crime after being given every opportunity to simply go home?  And while I will agree with you that the officer shouldn’t have used the foul language he did, let’s not pretend that everyone there was appalled by the language.  Pretty safe bet that the music provided by the DJ at that party had plenty of foul language in it, but suddenly it’s only offensive if a white cop uses those same words?
 Cosper continues, “I think the answer to that question relies, to a degree, on the color of your skin.  If you’re an African American or person of color, she’s the girl in the pond.  Her suffering demands a response not because you can rescue her, but because what she was subjected to is something that you, your family, and your community are at risk of suffering as well.  It’s proximity is very, very close.”
 Again, Mike, what suffering are you talking about?  I’m sorry, but being arrested for committing a crime after being given ample opportunity to leave is not suffering.  Your definition of suffering needs serious revision.  When you use the word suffering in this instance it waters the word down and detracts from ACTUAL suffering.  And I’m not too worried that me or my family is at risk of this “suffering” because I obey the law and respect authority and I teach my children to obey the law and respect authority as well.  Her parents evidently didn’t teach her to respect authority, which is why she ended up in handcuffs.
 Cosper continues, “If, like me, you’re not an African American, then the situation is much different.  One can watch the video, find it horrifying, be moved with empathy at the particulars of the case, and move on with one’s life.  The overarching theme of brutality that targets black skin doesn’t necessarily break through to your circle of concern.”
What is this overarching theme of brutality that targets black skin, Mike?  You speak of it as if it’s an irrefutable fact.  Can you provide any objective evidence that shows police officers target black people and brutalize them today?  Sure, the media will tell you it’s an epidemic, but is it really true?  Can you prove that assertion with anything more than emotion and anecdote?  Furthermore, much like how your definition of suffering needs work, your definition of brutality needs work as well.  Did Ms. Becton suffer any injuries?  Not to my knowledge.  Wouldn’t brutality, at the very least, require some kind of injury?  Or is any arrest where the officer must use force to overcome resistance now defined as brutality?
Cosper continues, “You haven’t experienced similar things in your life and in your community.  You don’t have to warn your children about how they mind themselves with police are around.”
Yes we do, Mike.  That’s the whole point.  We do teach our children to respect authority & obey lawful commands from that authority.  And there are many black parents who do as well, and to no one’s surprise, their kids don’t end up being forced to the ground in a viral Youtube video.  And there are many white parents who don’t teach their kids these things, and their kids end up in handcuffs too.  You see it’s not about race, Mike, as much as you want it to be.  It’s about respecting the law.  Ms. Becton didn’t and she reaped the consequences of that decision.
 Cosper says, “You don’t have to live each day with the subtle legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation that cause a crowd to assume that you don’t belong at a swimming pool in a middle class neighborhood.”
There was no assumption that Ms. Becton didn’t belong at the swimming pool, it was a fact that she didn’t belong.  Much like if I were to walk unannounced into your privately owned home without welcome.  I wouldn’t belong there unless you had given me consent to be there.  The HOA has rules that you must be a resident of the community or a guest of the resident, and each resident is only allowed 2 guests.  It wouldn’t have been any different if she was white.  If she wasn’t a resident or 1 of 2 guests of a resident, she wasn’t allowed to be there.  Period.  Race has nothing to do with it.  Again, you ignore the facts of the case and immediately assume racism.  Yet a black resident (you know, someone who lives there and actually witnessed this whole thing as opposed to watching a 7 minute video from their couch) said the community is diverse and accepting of all races, and that the police were called because fights were breaking out.
Here’s another resident that actually witnessed the whole thing…
The community is accepting of all races.  What they’re not accepting of is their community pool being overrun and over-crowded by people who haven’t helped pay for that pool (and in fact were charging admission) and want to play loud, vulgar music and smoke weed around their kids.  How dare them, I know, the bigotry is astounding!
Cosper continues, “This is what it means to be ‘privileged.’  It means that society assumes some things in your favor.  Or perhaps, it means that you aren’t subjected to certain bias, suspicion or violence.  Privilege is the ability to look the other way.”
Again, Mike assumes that Ms. Becton (and everyone else there that was black) were told to leave simply because they were black.  I would challenge you Mike to support that belief with evidence.  Because I’ve already provided testimony from a black resident and a white resident that the police were called because the party was out of control.  In fact only one person there was even charged with a crime, and that was the friend that interfered with the lawful arrest of Ms. Becton.  Ms. Becton and her parents should be thanking the McKinney Police Department for not following through with charges of Criminal Trespass, but then again, no good deed goes unpunished these days.
Cosper continues, “The video isn’t a threat for white folks because all the white folks in the video walk away unscathed.”  Again, Mike, can you watch the video again and just count exactly how many white folks we’re talking about that trespassed into the pool and were allowed to walk away?  And while you’re counting, can you count the number of black folks who walked away unscathed?  And really, the word unscathed is yet another poor choice.
unscathed (uhn-skeyth d)
1. not scathed; unharmed; uninjured.
Was Ms. Becton injured?  Not to my knowledge, so even she walked away unscathed in the end.  Temporarily detained, yes, but unscathed.
He continues, “They are invisible to the officer who is rounding up black kids because it is assumed that they belong there and black kids don’t.  If you’re white, you can ignore the whole thing and go on with your life, confident that you, your children, your white friends and neighbors aren’t likely to be subjected to overly harsh treatment based on the color of your skin.”
Again, Mike, you’re operating on false assumptions and you’re psycho-analyzing the officer and the people who called 911.  What evidence do you have that the police were called merely because the party goers were black?  What evidence do you have that the officer made arrests merely because they were black?  Could it be that the people officer Casebolt detained had run from the police as soon as he arrived, arousing his suspicions?  In fact the other officer in the video says, “Don’t take off running when the cops get here.”  Could it be that none of the white people at the party had done that?  Could it be that the white people you see in the background of the video were never actually observed in the pool area and thus were never committing a crime?  The point is, there could be a huge number of different reasons as to why the officer detained who he detained, but for you to automatically assume racism makes you ironically guilty of the very bias you speak against.  There hasn’t been a single resident of that community that has said the officers came out there and just started throwing black kids around for no reason.  In fact we see just the opposite.  And this is from people who were actually there.  You, on the other hand, don’t have the whole story, so it’s irresponsible of you to make proclamations of racism as if it were indisputable fact.  I believe that’s what the Bible calls “bearing false witness.”
Cosper says, “For white folks, the girl pinned to the lawn by the knees of a police officer might as well be on the other side of the world.”
Two things wrong with this.  One, not all white folks feel that way (you, Mike, would be a good example of such a person) and two, just because we don’t join the lynch-mob of angry citizens who want the officer to be immediately burned at the stake doesn’t mean we feel as though the whole thing might as well be on the other side of the world.  Believe it or not, some of us believe in a fair judicial process that can be carried out by people who actually have access to the full story and all the facts therein.
Cosper continues, “Privilege can dismiss this as a tragic, but isolated incident.  Privilege can look at this case – and Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner, and Walter Scott, and many others – as isolated incidents where “bad apples” acted with unjustified violence.”
That’s because “bad apples” are isolated incidents.  For every Walter Scott and Tamir Rice there are untold thousands of arrests that go down without anyone getting killed or hurt.  But because only the Walter Scotts and Tamir Rices of the world make the news, you are brainwashed into thinking that these stories are commonplace, every day events.  (By the way, the officers who shot Walter Scott and Tamir Rice will go before a grand jury to give an account for their actions, so don’t act like they got off scott free just because they weren’t immediately hung in the public square like you would probably prefer)
Yep, plenty of arrests go down in America every day without making the news.  In 2012, 9.3 million people were arrested across the country.  Of those 9.3 million, 410 people were killed by justifiable homicide.  That’s 0.004%.  It’s amazing that the media can take a number so miniscule and brainwash the masses into thinking it’s some kind of widespread problem.
Cosper says, “Meanwhile, African American parents have to respond to this incident, like the others, by telling their kids to expect injustice and to go out of their way to comply with authorities.”
Here Cosper actually endorses black parents telling their kids to expect injustice from cops.  Unbelievable!  No wonder cops are so demonized!  When kids are indoctrinated into hatred from a young age it’s easy to see why!  And yes, we should all be teaching our kids to comply with authorities, are you suggesting they shouldn’t?
Does your Bible look like this Mike? bible
If so, I’ll paste the first 5 verses of Romans 13 for you…
“Let every person (that would include Ms. Becton) be subject to the governing authorities (that would be officer Casebolt).  For there is no authority except from God (that would be the McKinney Police Department in this case) and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities (that would be Ms. Becton) resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (that would be her arrest).  For rulers (that would be the police) are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad (that would be Ms. Becton’s conduct).  Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? (that would be her defiance and resistance towards officer Casebolt) Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval (that would be the people who left when they were told to), for he is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain (that would be the officer’s pistol).  For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.  Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
Mike do you realize that every time you excuse and even condone criminal activity you are in defiance of God’s Word?  Do you realize that every time you tweet anti-police rhetoric that you are essentially saying you reject Romans 13?  I’m not talking about corrupt cops Mike.  And you aren’t either. You’re talking about ALL cops when you endorse stuff like this.  The kind of broad-brushing and stereotyping you commit against police officers is exactly what you rightfully hate when it’s done towards black people.  So can you answer why it’s OK to judge all police officers based on the actions of a few while simultaneously condemning that judgment when it’s towards all black people?  Your double standards are blatant and I urge you to repent of it.
Cosper says, “When my brother weeps because his sons are roughed up by cops for no reason, when my sister weeps because her daughter cried out for help and no one could help her, this should lead me to weep too.”
Do you weep for the 216 murder victims that have been killed in Chicago just since January, most of them black victims, most of them killed by black suspects?  Or is something only weep worthy if it’s a perceived injustice at the hands of a white cop?
Another question for you, Mike.  Do you weep for officer Casebolt?  He’s a flesh and blood human being, created in God’s image, who has suffered injustice as a result of this event, even if he wasn’t perfect throughout it.  Do you weep for him because he was essentially forced to resign from his career?  Do you weep for him and his family as they had to uproot their lives and go into hiding for their safety after receiving numerous death threats?  Is there any sympathy for him at all, or have you demonized and de-humanized him in your mind to such an extent that you’ve become either completely apathetic or actually feel that he and his family deserve it?
You started your blog with an ethical question called “The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle.”  Ironically, police officers like Darren Wilson and Eric Casebolt, who have had to quit their careers, uproot their families and go into hiding just for doing their jobs, are drowning.  But I guess your circle of concern doesn’t quite expand to them, does it?