Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another day, another killing: cops shoot 72-year-old in his own home

On the morning of Thursday, May 7, police from Gwinnett County in the Atlanta metro area shot and killed Joseph Roy, a 72 year old man undergoing chemotherapy for stage four lung cancer. Police went to his home after receiving a 911 call claiming the man was suicidal. Police say they found him "barricaded in the bathroom" when they got there,

"When they got out to the situation they made contact with the subject inside," said Corporal Michele Pihera, spokesperson for the county police. "During the course of the incident our officers discharged their firearms and the subject is now deceased."

Having been treated for cancer, albeit not in my 70s but in my 50s, I know that cancer treatments themselves really mess with your head, never mind the realization that you may well be standing in your grave. Suicidal? I can't say "been there, done that," but I certainly saw it from where I stood six years ago.

But I also know that a 72-year-old man undergoing chemotherapy is not a real threat to anyone's life if the most minimal care is taken, if you don't charge in there like Pentagon special forces going to take out Osama bin Laden. And that's so even if what the police claim --that he had armed himself with a household kitchen knife and came out of the bathroom where he had sought refuge threatening them-- were true. Which claim I don't believe, by the way. Fool me once, shame on you. Try to fool me 3,000 times: go fuck yourselves.

It is entirely legitimate to experience fear and seek to protect yourself when hyper-aggressive armed thugs break into your home, with all sorts of noise, shouting all sorts of things you may not even physically hear very well because not just age, but also chemotherapy drugs degrade your hearing. Or even if you do hear it, you may not understand what is going on or what exactly is being said, given the chaos that's just broken out. Arming yourself with a knife, an AK-47 or even an M1 Abrams tank, if you have one handy, is completely legitimate and to be expected, and cops should not be allowed to use the panic and terror they themselves provoke as a pretext for murder.

When the cops got to the man, he was "barricaded in the bathroom," according to the spokesperson for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. What does that say? That he feared for his safety and his life, and tried to protect himself.

On the basis of their own account, the intervention by Gwinnett cops provoked a physical confrontation with a man who had tried to protect himself in his own home by locking himself in a bathroom. They provoked this confrontation despite having been called to the scene because the man was said to not be behaving rationally by threatening suicide.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations, which supposedly was going to carry out an independent and objective investigation, instead seemed to immediately go into cover-up mode.

According to news reports, GBI spokesperson Sherry Lang said shortly after arriving at the scene, "The subject opened the door, and started yelling threats at the officers and then charged the officers with a knife."

In that same press briefing, Lang and a press person for the Gwinnett police said they did not know whether someone else had been at the house at the time of the shooting, that they did not know who had called 911 claiming the man was suicidal, that they did not know whether the man's wife had been there in the morning or where the man's wife since the incident.

The one and only thing they were sure about, apparently, is that the man who was shot was guilty of attacking the cops who invaded his home, and the cops who invaded his home and shot him were just defending themselves.

So even before any real investigation had begun, the GBI, which Gwinnett County is now relying on to cover up investigate police murders officer involved shootings was already justifying the police killing of a very sick 72-year-old man on the basis that he asked for it.

But even if the cop version that he asked for it is true, what does it say about this society that we gave it to him? He may have been a very sick man physically and mentally, but our society is even sicker, politically and morally.

At any rate, cops know that their own claim to have felt threatened is an automatic "get out of jail free" card, even for murder, and murder most foul, as happened in this case. That thanks to the robed reactionaries of the ruling rich on the Supreme Court.

So even if the cops forgot to bring a gun to plant on their victim, they still escape any punishment by simply claiming that a 72-year-old-man suffering from stage four lung cancer and further weakened by chemotherapy, and who was cowering in a bathroom, seeking refuge from the sudden, violent assault on his home, that this man.threatened the police officers with a steak knife, and thus the cops had no choice but to summarily execute Joseph Roy in a confrontation that there was no need to stage at all and that I think any first-year psychology undergrad would have told them they should not have provoked.

Neither the race of the cops nor of the victim has been given by any of the news reports or police statements; however, TV coverage at the scene shortly after the shooting show only white cops. And the neighbors interviewed about what happened are Black. You do the math.

According to American journalistic style books and ethical guidelines, a person's race or ethnicity should not be mentioned if it has nothing to do with the story. How any journalist in the United States today could imagine that the race of those involved in one more police killing are not relevant is beyond me. In my mind, it only shows the complicity of the media with unjustified or just avoidable police killings.

Supposedly police had gone to the man's home after 911 received a call claiming he was threatening suicide. So the response was to send heavily armed militarized police trained to shoot to kill. Police officers who are absolved beforehand from any responsibility for their actions by the Supreme Court, provided only they claim they were scared. And now the man is no longer threatening to kill himself, thanks to the police, because they killed him.

This doesn't happen in other market-economy industrialized countries like Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Japan or Australia. Some people say, but those countries don't have America's gun culture. But they all have steak knives, the weapon the septuagenarian cancer patient supposedly attacked the police with when they finally cornered him cowering in fear in a bathroom in his home.

I firmly believe that if God or some other force summarily executed and hung from lamp posts for the moral instruction of future generations 10 or 20 cops every time something like this happened, or just blew up the police station involved during roll call the day after a killing, incidents like this would very quickly end.

And if this unending deluge of police killings does not stop, history teaches that something like that will happen. Guaranteed.

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