Case of Off-Duty Cop Who Shot Enraged Father Gets More Complicated

The other day, I wrote about a tragic situation involving an off-duty police officer who was riding his motorcycle, accidentally hit a little girl who had darted into the road, was attacked by the little girl's family, and ended up shooting the girl's father, killing him.

The situation is a tragedy every which way you turn. The officer must feel terrible. The father lost his life. And now the 18-year-old man who joined the little girl's father in the altercation, John Passley of Bellwood, Illinois, has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault of a police officer.

This is one situation, based on the many comments (and emails) I've gotten, that clearly has touched a nerve.


It all started when 4-year-old Taniyah Middleton apparently ran into the road and a police officer (who hasn't been named in any of the news stories I've seen) reportedly tried to avoid her by ditching his bike. He and the girl were injured, but not seriously. At this point, reports say that Taniyah's father, Christopher Middleton, ran out of a nearby restaurant and began punching the bike's driver. Cousin John Passley joined in.

At some point, the officer drew his gun and shot Middleton, killing him. The only version of events we've heard so far is from the spokesman of the Fraternal Order of Police, who says that the officer shot in self-defense.

Fair enough. Yet, in my earlier post, when I asked whether or not the officer could have fired into the air or into Middleton's leg, one reader emailed me to say that she hoped I drive home drunk from a "mommy blogger party" and hit someone. I understand being passionate, but really?

I chose to ask questions. I also asked, "Why was the little girl in the road?" I get that cops are trained to shoot to kill, but they are also trained to do a lot of other things to defuse a situation. Maybe the officer couldn't do any of those things. I don't know. I wasn't there -- but these are the kind of questions we should be asking.

Did I ask a dumb question? Maybe. But considering the post was all about letting cool heads prevail, even under incredibly stressful situations like this one, what I got in return was anything but cool heads.

My point in all of this, which was clearly stated in the first post -- angry words and fists do not solve anything. No one wins here.


Image via Aranami/Flickr

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