Atlanta Cops Won’t Show Up For Work If They Can’t Even Shoot Suspects In The Back
Cops did not collectively protest when Derek Chauvin brutally killed George Floyd in front of other officers who just watched. They didn't refuse to come to work when ordered to beat the crap out of people exercising their constitutional rights. Their consciences weren't shook when thugs who wore the same uniform critically injured an old man.
However, Atlanta police did choose to protest an apparent injustice Wednesday. Hours after the Fulton County district attorney announced felony murder charges against the cop who killed Rayshard Brooks, a number of officers called in sick before their shifts. This blue flu wasn't Shake Shack-related. It's more likely that cops feel personally brutalized if they aren't free to brutalize others. Maybe they consider the brutality one of the benefits of the job, like four-day weeks? There are few other professions that'll pay you to break a black woman's collarbone. We don't have slave overseers anymore.
District Attorney Paul Howard charged former officer Garrett Rolfe with 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault. His partner and accomplice, Devin Brosnan, was charged with aggravated assault. They both were charged with violating their oath of office, which apparently does not allow for shooting suspects in the back.
Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is… https://t.co/KyAKKtWVV8— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta Police Department)1592440990.0
It grows clearer every day that police model themselves more after The Punisher than Batman. If Brooks resisted arrest, tried to flee the scene, or even took an officer's Taser — which the police repeatedly insist is not a deadly weapon — it still doesn't justify his summary execution. Brooks should've lived to stand trial. Rolfe and Brosnan are enjoying their due process rights, despite denying them to Brooks.
Brooks pissed off the cops, so they killed him in cold blood. That's what happened here. Their own statements are a Whitman's sampler of white tears. They were so afraid. They were protecting the world from the stumbling drunk. Rolfe in particular keeps mentioning the alleged crimes Brooks committed, but even though Georgia has the death penalty, it's not his job to administer it.
Howard's investigation however showed clear malice on the officers' parts, and it's chilling because we know it's not unique to this situation.
Howard said following the shooting, the officers failed to give Brooks any medical attention for two minutes and 12 seconds.
"During that two minutes and 12 seconds, Officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks as he laid on the ground, while he was there fighting for his life," Howard said. "Officer Brosnan actually stood on Mr. Brooks shoulder."
After shooting Brooks in the back, Rolfe reported exclaimed, “I got him," which was both sociopathic and self-evident. At least no one said, “Booyah!" Howard's team concluded that the Taser Brooks swiped had already been fired twice so Rolfe knew it was useless and no threat to anyone. Brooks was also 18 feet away when Rolfe shot him. They had his car. They wouldn't have needed to bring in Sherlock Holmes to track him down.
NEW: ATL Police Union spokeman Vince Champion tells me that officers around the city are protesting the charges ann… https://t.co/YHwOWmhrPk— Charlie Gile (@Charlie Gile)1592452473.0
Atlanta cops — and likely many across the nation — consider this acceptable police work. What's shocking is that according to Brosnan, he specifically called for an officer with “experience in roadside evaluation" because he suspected Brooks was impaired from a "medical condition or possibly from alcohol." But Rolfe managed the situation as though dealing with someone fully in control of their faculties.
What are cops doing out there on the streets if they'd consider this particular outcome a personal threat? They apparently believe it puts them in jeopardy or at least just makes their jobs real hard if they can't shoot fleeing suspects in the back, deny them immediate medical attention, and play kick the can with their dying body.
The killing of #RayshardBrooks teaches us, again, that there is no technological fix for a cultural problem. These… https://t.co/531yrv5Od8— Charles M. Blow (@Charles M. Blow)1592488181.0
This is why I think if Se7en happened in the real world, Det. Mills would've kept his job. The cops would've defended him and claimed the handcuffed John Doe lunged at him or something, leaving Mills no choice but to “fire his service weapon in the direction of his head."
The Atlanta police union confirmed the protest but said it wasn't organized or a formal walkout. The cops weren't pressured or coerced. This is what they wanted. But a collective temper tantrum violates their oath of office. Here are two key passages:
As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.
Cops are conditioned to view themselves as a separate community, but it's hard to see how sitting on their asses protects the innocent, the weak, or the peaceful.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, political beliefs, aspirations, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
New York police tried a pouty slowdown a few years back, and the city didn't devolve into Taxi Driver. Delivering groceries is essential work, but we can go a few days without police beatdowns. When cops openly protest the Fifth and 14th Amendments, they're behaving like gangsters. Maybe they always have been.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."