The gift of life is the most important and treasured possession that can never be priced nor replaced, yet it is taken for granted as if it is a fundamental right. Once taken, it can never be replaced hence it has to be treasured. This then should be enough caution for how we handle each other in society despite our differences. The deadly police chase of November 29 2012 in Ohio, Cleveland raises questions as to whether the police went over the line of duty or were simple driven by other motives.
After reviewing articles and watching the podcasts pertaining this particular chase, I came up with a conclusion. That is, the police officers violated the pursuit policy and might as well have even committed murder. According to Atassi, “Investigators later found no gun or spent shell casings in the couple’s vehicle”. This makes me wonder then as to the statement that the initial police officers issued which said that the couple had fired on them.
In reference to Atassi’s report, I would therefore say that the officers were bored and looking for something to boost their insulin, Williams and Russell just happened to give them that opportunity. The tragic end could have been avoided if the other sub units had not joined to give the get-away car a look of suspicion as if they were escaping from a murder scene.
Atassi further says “Some city leaders joined the activists and relatives of the deceased in speculating over whether the shooting was racially motivated. Both Williams and Russell were black. Cleveland Police Chief McGrath confirmed Monday that 12 of the 13 police officers who shot at the couple were white, one was Hispanic”. This brings about the issue of racism. The question that arises is, did the couple really shoot at the police or the police saw that they were black and in an attempt to teach them a lesson initiated the chase? This question can never be answered since both Williams and Russell are no longer around to defend themselves. It is now the word of the officers against evidence.
There is enough incriminating to fire the officers and even convict them for murder. For starters, Sutyak, Buckingham and Bates reported that “The pursuit lasted about an hour and involved 80 police cars from nearly every district. The chase went over three cities”. Williams and Russell had not killed any officer, nor did they try to rob the Central bank, so why such a laborious, hard and deadly chase after them.
The number of squad cars and the distance spanned by this case clearly means that the police were gunning down for the couple and would not have stopped for anything. Atassi further goes on to say “Someone with authority at a Cleveland police district saw hazards in a high-speed police chase last Thursday and ordered the district’s officers not to participate five minutes before the pursuit ended in a deadly barrage of bullets on a dead-end road in East Cleveland”. These five minutes could have saved the couple’s lives had the instruction been followed. It therefore makes sense to say that the officers broke the law and should be convicted for murder.
However, there is a twist to this case, according to Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine, “To state the obvious, this case could have ended without tragic results if Timothy Russell had simply stopped the car in response to the police pursuit. Perhaps the alcohol and cocaine in his system impaired his judgment. We will never know.” This means that the couple were just as responsible for their tragic end as much as the police officers involved in this deadly chase.
Alcohol lowers one’s senses to response and perception. Hence in his state, Russell might have posed a threatening stance to the police officers who had no option but to fight for their lives. Driving under influence always comes along with negative effects, according to an Australian Department of Transport report;
“If you drink alcohol and drive, you may likely find it difficult to: judge the speed of your vehicle, judge the distance between you and other cars, notice traffic lights, pedestrians and other hazards…” (2). Thus driving under influence always yields fatal results that usually involve massive death tolls in case of an accident.
In this case, Russell was under the influence of both alcohol and drugs-cocaine, hence there is no telling to what he could have done and what he was capable of doing at any instant. Despite the fact that death is not an easy matter, the police officers can be pardoned. In such an instance, it was either their lives or those of any other innocent person who might have come across the couple that fateful night; or the couple itself and the couple was on the offensive side resulting in their untimely death.
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To sum up the matter, due to the fact that no gun was found on the couple’s car but only traces of cocaine were found in Russell’s blood system, the couple could have been found guilty of “driving under the influence” – had they been still alive, instead of the officer’s words that stated self-defense since they claim the couple fired at them first. The unjustness of the situation is that there are no eyewitnesses to the initial scene. The word of the police officers is the only evidence around this deadly chase that led to a tragedy.