This Knoxville area police officer mistake should frighten all of us, coming so soon after the Philandro Castile incident trial in which the officer was cleared. You might want to watch the Castile traffic stop and shooting video here first, before reading the article about the Knoxville area arrest.
In both instances, the officer was probably mistaken in believing that the innocent citizen behaved in such a way as to merit the officer’s drawing a gun. In Castile’s case, the officer shot Castile, killing him.
In the Knoxville case, the officer happened to see the citizen doing something that looked like she might be stealing a car: she had bought the car, and was picking it up. During the officer’s questioning, the officer drew his pistol and held the citizen at gunpoint waiting for another officer to arrive.
The city officials insist this was proper police procedure: I get that, don’t permit the lady to reach into the bag to show her purchase paperwork until the other officer arrives. However, it is a serious thing to draw a pistol on someone, escalating the risk that the unarmed person will be shot.
Now, here is the point of this post. In a culture where people still believe in right and wrong, and where right is taught from birth, almost all of the adults in that person’s life exhibit at least the propensity toward good behavior. We all learn what about right and wrong. We may err, but we know better and the mass of us can be trusted most of the time. We get out on our streets with the expectation that we will not be robbed, accosted, run over by a homicidal maniac, or even held at gunpoint by a police officer. In such a culture, crime is rare, the criminal mindset is confined to the rarely encountered few. Police officers share these experiences, and they may start an encounter in a less-stressed frame of mind.
In today’s deteriorating culture, police officers may rationally fear for their lives when simply stopping someone for a taillight out. They may perceive a crime happening where there is none; they may be more likely to believe that someone like Castile “looks like” a bank robbery suspect. They may arrive at the car door already tense, already prepared to draw and shoot upon the next perceived provocation. They may perceive innocuous behavior as that provocation.
I do not believe that either officer in these two cases set out that day to abuse police power, to shoot anyone, or to draw a gun on a woman just buying a car. But, the more demented people there are running around out here, the more likely deadly encounters are. Put another way, those who presume to preside over our culture have led us into anarchy, chaos, and danger.