Cops Kill Mentally Disabled Man Holding a Toy Gun

toy gunLast night, at 11:08, our nation was shocked, saddened, and downright embarrassed when a man who maintained his innocence until the very end, Troy Davis, was killed via the death penalty. I'm sure you know the details: There were inconsistencies in the witness testimonies, seven of the nine witnesses recanted their testimonies, and there were claims that some of the witnesses were coerced by police into testifying against Davis. The fact that a man who very well could be innocent had his life barbarically taken is unbelievable, to say the least, and it makes one seriously lose faith in the American (in)justice system.

So, in honor of Troy, and American justice in general, I'd like to rewind a few weeks for a moment here. To September 1. When two Miami Beach police officers shot and killed a mentally disabled man who was holding a toy gun.

Will they get the death penalty?

Advertisement

The incident began when officers responded to several calls about a man seen walking around with what looked like a rifle. They were told that at one point, the man even aimed the rifle at a neighborhood dog.

According to the police report, when the cops arrived at the scene, there was some sort of altercation which caused one officer to open fire on the man in question. After further investigation, though, it was revealed that the "rifle" was actually a toy. The injured man was then taken to a hospital where he died a short while later. He was identified as 56-year-old Ernest Vassell, a man who was mentally disabled after a brain injury as a child, a man who had no history of violence.

Vassell's older sister, Claire Harding, said: "They could tell him to drop the gun. They say they told him to drop it and he raised his hand. He probably raised his hand to hand them the gun because he is afraid of police."

So, what I'm getting at here -- and I'm sure you see this coming -- is are we going to skip the whole clemency thing with these officers who killed a perfectly innocent man? Are we just going to get right down to business and fire up a nice cocktail for them and invite Vassell's family to watch the whole thing live like they're at a taping of Dancing With the Stars? I mean, they killed someone -- there's actual proof. That's how this system works, right? Seems like it does after last night.

Odds are these officers will not get the death penalty. In fact, I'm not even so sure they'll get kicked off the squad. There will be a million and two reasons to justify killing Ernest. They thought the gun was real, they felt they were in danger. Blah, blah, blah. And they'll get off with a slap on the wrist. Sort of like Casey Anthony.

But Troy Davis, who may not have done as much as hurt a fly, is dead now. Something about this system just doesn't seem right.

What do you think?

 

Image via ganesha.isis/Flickr

Read More >

crime