Saturday, April 3, 2010
Justified Shooting; Does he deserve to die?
I'm not going to lie, this is a hard piece to write.
Most of you guys were either stuck in traffic because of it or saw it on the news. I'm talking about the shooting that took place at the McDonald's on Yarbrough and Gateway West. Yeah, the one with the off duty police officer's and the yellow Pontiac Sunfire.
You probably have have heard or read alot of things about this story. But as long as it didn't involve anyone you know you will just move on with your busy life.
That's not the case for me. I knew both parties involved. Yes, this cruel small world has played an evil joke on us and put my family in the middle of this. Both the driver that was shot and the female officer that was injured are friends of the family.
They didn't know each other, their paths had never crossed to my knowledge.
Michelle was the officer that grew up with one generation of my family while Andy was barely growing up with another generation. Only 20 years old he is still considered a kid to the family.
Let me take you back to that day, before I knew who was involved.
I was one of the many stuck in the traffic jam on April 1st. I remember complaining about the rubber neckers that were causing me to be late. The incident was not even on the freeway yet traffic was slow on both east and west bound lanes. Somehow I made it to my destination. Then someone mentioned it at the meeting. They said it involved a yellow Pontiac Sunfire. I paused but then thought....what are the odds?
I figured I would see what happened on the 10 o'clock news once I got home. The story came on and I saw the Sunfire.......NO IT CAN'T BE! I grabbed my phone and dialed frantically. No answers. I began to worry. I finally got some sort of response.....a text message telling me my family was fine but Andy was shot!
The yellow Sunfire belonged to a member of my family.
I was up late, consoling some family and desperately tracking down others. There was a sense of outrage but I had to be the voice of reason for them. I just couldn't understand why this could happen.
I said all sorts of explicit things about the police officer's, not knowing who they were at the time. To me they were just badges that shot a friend of the family. They were nobody to me and their well being meant nothing.
Andy was taken to the hospital in critical condition with a bullet wound to the neck. His mother was notified and was by his side. Andy went through surgery the next morning and has been unconscious in critical condition since.
I talked to a family member to check on his status the day of his surgery. That's when I was told Michelle was the officer who was injured. That threw me for a loop. All the anger and explicit things I said about "that officer" were on hold now that the officer had a name, a face and history with my family.
Now I wondered, is she O.K.? Was she badly injured? How is her mom handling it?
I didn't know what to think, didn't know what to do. Whose side should I take? Who have I known longer? Who have I interacted with most? Do I like one more than the other? Do I ask my family what I should do? I just didn't know!
It was a long day for me. I had meetings all day, had to drop off then pick up the kids. I had to catch up on some work that I had been falling behind on so I didn't have much time to myself to think. But then I stopped and thought....What is the right thing to do? I catch myself asking myself that alot now that I am getting older. Some people say its called growing up.
I read all the stories and saw all the videos. I put myself in the situation and it came to me. I can't be biased on this. I had to remove myself from any relationships and knew what ever came out would make somebody upset with me. So no use in holding back.
It seems that it all started with a fender bender. Yeah, just a simple fender bender. Now remember I was not there, I am only making assumptions from information I gathered.
According to the news the two off duty officers got out of the SUV they were in after being hit. The report said they were going to get the drivers information. The driver then tried to escape and somehow the female officer was trapped underneath the vehicle. That's when the male officer gave verbal orders to stop then shot the driver in the neck fearing for the life of the female officer. That sounds cut and dry to me. But is it?
I can't say what Andy was thinking or can I ask him since he is still unconscious. I don't know why Andy would try to flee the scene but I know that if I saw two people coming at me and at least one had a gun, considering all the violence in our neighbor city, I would probably try to run too.
But let's analyze the shooter real quick. Yeah, I'm the only one calling him the "shooter" while others refer to him as the officer. In most cases referring to him as the "officer" minimizes his actions and frankly almost justifies his actions.
The media has frequently said that their was no relation between the two officers even though they shared the same last name. They are right, they are not kin but seems like they did have an romantic relationship. Why is that relevant? You'll see in a minute.
Judging by the video taken by the TXDoT camera and footage taken by an onlooker that provided it to the media, Michelle was not badly injured. You can see her a little distraught but definitely not laying on the floor bleeding to death.
You can also see several people on cell phones that we can only assume are calling 911. But if you look closely, Andy is still in the vehicle. No one is helping him! You have a wounded person in a car and the two police officer's cant render aid?!
They claimed they didn't help him because they feared he would hurt them. He has a gun shot wound in his neck and is hunched over on the steering wheel. They were within 10 feet from him. If they feared for their lives they would have fled or at least been farther away from the vehicle. Or did they think he was dead? Did they not want to touch anything that would risk the investigation? Was their investigation more important than Andy's life?
Lets go back to the romantic relationship between the two officers. How would you feel if someone hit your girlfriend with a car? You would be furious just like I would be if someone hit my girlfriend. I think having that relationship clouded the officers reactions and caused him to over react and shoot Andy. Passion makes people do some crazy things. Remember the officer is human and humans do make mistakes.
I also come to that conclusion by watching Michelle get near the car as Andy is still bleeding inside and puts her hands to cover her face in what seems to be disbelief. She walks away and seems to gesture to the male officer on the phone a hand gesture that normally means get away or leave me alone. Judging by her actions I can only assume that Michelle didn't agree with the actions taken by the male officer.
Friends and family have visited Andy at the hospital praying for his recovery. Officials say that "if he survives" he will be charged with aggravated assault. Yes, Andy is under arrest as he lays unconscious in his hospital room and once again is not given any hope.
I really can't say what happened that day. But I ask you guys;
Does he deserve to die?
I would like to see the police department perform an in depth investigation and not allow the possibility of lawsuits against the department hinder their efforts.
Both men should be under investigation and should both be treated equally. We like to use the saying "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" very loosely yet we have Andy under surveillance at the hospital and the shooter on administrative leave.
I wonder if that would be the case if there wasn't an officer involved. What if it was two guys off the street. Would the shooter still be at home or would he be in county jail as Andy lays in the hospital? Why does the badge make such a big difference?
All I'm saying is that investigations in El Paso that include police officers have historically not been handled to the liking of many. Let he who was at fault be justly punished and not just punish the one who can't defend himself.
After reading this both you and I can tell what side I took on this matter. It was obvious that I was one sided no matter how much I tried not to be. And we now know which family will be angry at me. My apologies to them.
I have never been a fan of police abuse since I myself have been down that road. It is not a pleasant feeling to say the least. It is something that you never forget as long as you live. Fortunately for me I can walk around and talk about it.
Let's just pray Andy can do the same.