Saturday, March 23, 2013

Editor's Note: Justice Was Not Served

Editor's Note:
I ranted about this story on Facebook this morning, which probably isn't the best place for such a lengthy post. I am reposting with some edits for The Cooper Chronicles.

This story scares me so much. I honestly don't think the cops thought they were doing anything that would result in killing a man over a movie ticket. But, we have a long way to go with community outreach and education so that confrontations over movie tickets (and other equally pointless, stupid and ultimately harmless actions) don't occur to begin with. To me, this is a story of intolerance, abuse of power and lack of perspective. Had the movie theatre employees had some compassion, had the off duty police officers been trained with a little more sensitivity (or used the training they were given. I don't know what kind of training they receive, if any, on dealing with people with intellectual disabilities), had the bystanders in the theatre had a little backbone, this whole thing could have been avoided. Actually, had any of these people had ANY of these traits! Ultimately, who cares if a man who clearly has an intellectual disability watches the movie twice but only pays once?  Do I think he should be allowed to break all the rules just because he has Down syndrome? Absolutely not. But to allow this situation (over what? $15 max?) to escalate to the point of needing to be restrained IS the fault of the professionals. Whether serving in an official law enforcement capacity or not, they were the professionals and the authorities in the room. Ultimately, they are responsible for the proper use of that authority. While I don't necessarily feel these officers should spend the rest of their lives in prison, they should at least be held responsible for being terrible at their job. I know cops aren't social workers but there has to be training in de-escalation and there should be some minimum standard of proper perspective when dealing with situations like this. The police are the police for all of us, even those who may not understand the full ramifications of their actions and may not possess the capacity to be held equally responsible for the end result of such a confrontation.

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