March 19, 2009

Derek Copp

I just read the story on Econ's reading list side-bar about Derek Copp

That's frightening. That could have been us in college. The worst part is that, on the newspaper's website, some people left comments blaming Derek for the incident and saying that he deserved to be shot because he is a "drug criminal." Not only did police shoot, without declaring themselves to be police, an unarmed college student for having "a few tablespoons" of marijuana, but some people think they were justified in doing so.

The best part, though, and the part that clearly identifies that drug task force as dull-witted amateurs, is that they did not call Derek's parents. They shot an unarmed college student in the chest in his own apartment, and then left him uncharged in the hospital to call his own parents six hours later. At least they took him to the hospital, I suppose. But that's heartless. "I'm so sorry, we shot your son by mistake," would be better than, "What the hell, let's go have a beer."

I had thought the situation in Michigan would be improving after the last election. At least it sounds like his university is supportive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That reminds me of a scene from my work today.


Employee: Did you hear about the teenager who was running from security guards and fell off the top of a resort building?

Supervisor: Yeah. I heard he was hanging on the edge of the roof, but security couldn't get to him in time.

Employee: Did you hear the kid's actually from here?

Supervisor: What? That kid was from our town?

Employee: Yeah.

Supervisor: Oh my god ... Wow. I didn't even think ...
That's so terrible.

Employee: Well, I also saw some pictures of the kid and it looks like he was a total gang banger.

Supervisor: What? A gang banger?

Employee: Yeah. He was posing with gang signs real proud in a bunch of pictures I saw of him.

Supervisor: Oh ... Really?

Employee: Yeah.

Supervisor: Were there other kids in the pictures with him?

Employee: Yeah, him and a bunch of other high school Hispanic kids.

Supervisor: Let me guess. They were all doing gang signs?

Employee: Yep.

Supervisor. Jeez.

March 21, 2009 at 7:20 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing that stood out to me about the shooting incident was the guy's reputation coming out in the accounts of people who know him, saying he was nice to everyone he met, had a glowing personality, wouldn't hurt a fly, etc. Enough to make some people think twice about labeling him some kind of faceless drug criminal whose death the public can rationalize away.

Frightening and sad as it is that incidents like this happen, at least it paints drug prohibition in a very bad light and will be a thorn in its side for a while.

And hey, the guy made it out alive.

March 21, 2009 at 11:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I know that even in police actions toward an unarmed and non-violent suspect, factors such as anxiety, insufficient training, and pure chance can lead an officer to unintentionally harm a non-combative person. Because of that, I am, to some extent, willing to extend a certain benefit of the doubt to a police officer because the stress somehow makes it not entirely their fault, or at the very least, not a malicious or intentional act.

For example, I've never personally had to kick a door down, gun in hand and adrenaline rushing, not knowing what is on the other side (a threat to my life? or a guy eating chips?) But the source of that problem is that the law cares too much what goes on on the other side of the door in the first place.

The ongoing erosion of privacy and property rights has allowed and directly caused law enforcement to poke around in more private places and to poke around in those places more often. This not only puts innocent citizens at risk (armed no-knock raids, asset forfeiture), but it creates additional risk to the lives of officers as well (I'm aware of at least one documented case of a resident who, acting in what he perceived as self defense, shot a man who failed to identify himself as an officer during a no-knock raid.)

Privacy and property rights relating to search and seizure protections are arguably the biggest Constitutional victim of the drug war, and one of the most obvious cases is the loss of the sanctity of the home. Moral panics related to small town or rural meth labs, for example, have loosened the public's sense of respect for the private residence, because everyone is more willing to let law enforcement treat the home in a less sacred manner when you might have a drug dealer as a next-door neighbor.

March 21, 2009 at 11:55 PM 

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