The blog of Chicago-based freelance writer David Johnsen.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Idiot of the Day
I am toning down my Bastard of the Day award today since this woman lost her husband. He was shot by police at a Dominick's grocery store. According to the Chicago Tribune:
As one officer detained an unidentified woman near the checkout lines, three tried to detain [James] King, who was described as 6 feet, 2 inches, tall and almost 400 pounds. One officer sprayed him with mace, and another got one handcuff on him before King withdrew a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, police said. Three of the officers "left the immediate scene," [Supt. Philip] Cline said, leaving one to fend off King. That officer shot and killed King in a shooting police have judged to be within department guidelines.
(A Chicago Sun-Times account says that this was all captured on the store's security cameras and mentions a detail omitted by the Tribune: that King not only drew but pointed his gun at the officer who then shot him.) Obviously, the three cops who left one alone to subdue this large man screwed up. One cannot imagine how they could possibly justify their actions. Two were probationary officers (first 18 months on the job), so they were fired. The third has been suspended for now and may be fired later. But the Idiot of the Day is widow Audrey King:
King's family said the father of two might be alive if the three officers had stayed to do their jobs. "It's devastating," said his wife, Audrey. "They were trained to handle situations like that. They're supposed to be professionals."
Your husband might be alive if he hadn't pulled a freaking gun on a police officer who was trying to arrest him! Sure, the police are "supposed to be professionals," but citizens aren't supposed to point guns at them! For that matter, who is to say that the situation would have played out differently with four officers instead of one? Is there a certain number of police who need to be present to discourage a person from drawing a gun on them? Maybe James King told Audrey, "You know, if there's just one cop, I'm gonna try to shoot him. But if four cops are there, I'll go quietly." Blaming the police for your husband's death after he draws a weapon on them in a grocery store is utterly ridiculous. The police are professionals, and they are trained to counter deadly force with... deadly force.

I'm sorry that Audrey will have to raise those two kids alone. But maybe their father should have thought about that before he pulled out his handgun. She has no right to fault the police for his death.

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