Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Only In America (from MySpace)

Current mood: somber

Category: News and Politics

A drunken off-duty cop walks into a White Castle. A star football player on the NYPD team, he is baby-faced handsome. He is just twenty four years old. He exchanges words with a gang of toughs, after they taunt him and demand that he buy them sodas. He pays for his order at the counter and leaves, but he immediately returns to the store. Again, he leaves - and again, he walks back inside - at which point, he is jumped by six men, who kick and pummel him. Badly hurt, he manages to crawl into the parking lot, where he draws his gun on a man he mistakenly assumes was one of his attackers.

Uniformed police arrive at the scene. The drunken young cop, who now has his gun pointed at the head of a man he believes to be one of his assailants, is commanded four times to drop his weapon. He does not. He is then shot by one of the cops. The arteries in both legs are severed. He loses so much blood, the doctors are forced to amputate one leg below the knee and remove his colon. He lingers in a coma for eleven days before he expires from his wounds.

He receives an inspector's funeral. The local tabloids hail him as a hero. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly eulogize him as an exemplary young man. They praise him for his bravery and his valiant struggle to survive. They tell us he was among the best of New York's Finest.

I fail to see how his behavior was heroic. On the contrary, it was his reckless and unprofessional conduct that provoked the situation. It is illegal for a police officer to carry his weapon when he is intoxicated, and his blood alcohol was twice the legal limit. He re-entered the White Castle twice, which strongly suggests he was not interested in avoiding a confrontation. Indeed, had he left the scene, there would have been no violence. Was he spoiling for a fight? He drew his gun on an innocent bystander, whom he might have killed, had he not been shot first.

This is a tragedy. No doubt about that. But the tragedy is not one of "mistaken identity".

The tragedy is, this cop was smashed. He got into an altercation, got his ass kicked, and when help arrived, he refused, for whatever reason, to drop his weapon.

A man was on the ground with a gun to his head. If he'd been shot and killed, that would have been a greater tragedy.

It's tragic, too, that we cannot mourn the senseless, unnecessary death of this young man without elevating him to "hero" status.

But heroes, especially dead, young, handsome men in uniform, sell newspapers.