Military and Police

Left Turning Sinners into Saints is Going Too Far

No one cringes more than police officers after hearing about a “bad” officer-involved shooting (OIS). And, by bad I mean an officer shooting someone without good faith and with malice—a crime. Cops know a truly bad shooting when they see one.

Today, too many people consider anytime the police are forced to shoot a suspect, even in good faith and without malice, a bad shooting. This is the case despite the rarity of wrongful police shootings—those rising to criminal. Others are tragic accidents based on faulty information or due to unfortunate circumstances. Hell, some cops even shoot other cops by mistake or accident.

Not all people who criticize police actions in deadly force incidents are anti-police. Some just don’t understand the nature of police work. Some take the time to learn, and others are still willing to give cops the benefit of the doubt. But unless governments and agencies take the time to teach the public a bit about law enforcement’s mission, can we blame the public for their lack of knowledge?

First, you have the why-didn’t-you-shoot-the-gun-out-of-his-hand folks. These people aren’t necessarily anti-cop, but they don’t understand police tactics and training; they understand Hollywood tactics and training. These people are ignorant but not in the pejorative sense. They simply don’t know what cops do or how and why they do it. They should learn. We should teach them. Send me an email ([email protected]); if you’re civil, I’ll chat with you about your questions and concerns.

Second, there is the person who believes anytime there is a police shooting, the cop should have done something differently or “better.” They believe if someone gets shot, the cop must have done something wrong, right? No!

Rather than something having gone wrong, if an officer shoots someone who would have otherwise shot an innocent bystander, his intended victim, or an officer, cops have done the right thing. How do I know? Because the cop, the innocent bystander, and the intended victim go home to their families instead of to the ER or morgue.

Third, look at the left’s violent, anti-cop political faction, which grows by the second and is absorbing the Democratic Party. These groups are comprised of people who help to create and then promote anti-police myths.

These are the folks turning sinners into saints. The guy who was turning his life around, the stellar student-athlete, the loving father, the loyal brother, and the son with a heart of gold. The “saint” who’d just robbed a couple at gunpoint and then wouldn’t drop the gun when the cops told him to.

I’ve often wondered why governments don’t do public service announcements, briefly explaining certain police procedures that can confound the uninitiated. Sadly, I don’t think leftist government officials have any interest in explaining police tactics. If they did, use-of-force incidents would be harder to exploit.

In the vast majority of cases, cops shoot people whose behavior has put a target on their chests. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), most police shootings involve armed suspects. Even those who are not armed were otherwise dangerous, attempting to take the officer’s gun, or acting as if they were armed. This is common in suicide-by-cop scenarios.

Sadly, some police shootings are cases where officers made an honest mistake or an error in judgment. These are tragic for all involved. Yes, even for the officers. Contrary to popular anti-cop opinion, unintentional shootings devastate cops.

Many officers suffer post-traumatic incident issues and will never fully get past the event. This can also be true even when everything went “right” during a shooting. Taking a human life, even when justified, is a significant life-event for most human beings.

I remember many years ago a friend of mine was involved in what was ruled an “unintentional” shooting. On arrival at a domestic violence incident, he was met by the female victim who yelled, “He tried to kill me; he’s got my baby!”

The officer saw the suspect run across the backyard and jump over a fence. The officer chased him on foot to a vacant lot. He caught up just as the suspect had climbed over a wire fence and fell down. The officer leaned over the flexing fence and pointed his gun at the suspect who was lying on his back. As the officer was ordering the suspect not to move, he inadvertently pulled the trigger.

The suspect was black, and the officer was white. The suspect was unarmed, but the officer had no way to know that. The officer had no idea how the suspect had tried to kill the victim, as she’d told him, or what had happened to the baby she mentioned he took. The officer must presume the suspect is armed and act accordingly. He’d already, allegedly, “tried to kill” someone only a few moments ago.

Of course, cop-critics leapt to a racial conclusion. This always gets me. Officers are not psychic. The officer wasn’t out prowling the streets, hunting for people to shoot. A female victim called 911 in fear for her and her baby’s lives. She needed officers to respond, and that’s what my friend did. The victim (a black female) needed help because she was in danger from the suspect (a black male), and a (white male) cop arrived and risked his life and safety to help her.

Then, something went tragically wrong. But, after hearing all the evidence, an inquest jury ruled unanimously the officer did not shoot the suspect intentionally. Then, as happens so often in these cases, anti-cop disciples converted the suspect from criminal into saint. As we understand the circumstances, the suspect should not have been shot. That’s why it’s called an accident. But the suspect was not an innocent victim. The real victim at the scene had just accused him of committing a serious felony.

But, to the radical left, the man is no longer the domestic violence suspect whose girlfriend said tried to kill her and took her baby. Now, he’s the harmless, African American victim of a brutal, consciously biased, racist white-privileged cop who woke up that morning intent on killing a black man.

Wait. Let’s pause for a moment. Be honest; if you’re not a cop, were you imagining this shooting incident happening during the day, in warm weather, on level, clear-of-debris terrain, with plenty of light and time to react and discern the situation without making any mistakes? Cops know better than to make these assumptions. But average people often do exactly that when they imagine an officer’s actions in any controversial incident.

No, the incident happened at about 2:30 a.m. on a dark and cold January morning. Does this change your thinking? If not, then you don’t want to know what it’s like for cops in those situations. You’d rather cling to the anti-cop myths because it fits your ideology.

The anti-cop faction manufactures outrage whenever a cop shoots a minority, even accidentally. For example, a suspect holding a cell phone or TV remote, which the officer mistakes for a gun. This can occur especially in low-light, constricted spaces, and inclement weather situations.

Regardless, if an officer tells you to drop the gun, under any circumstances, and you’re holding a cell phone, I’d suggest you drop the cell phone—and anything else you’re holding.

Still, I can understand the civilian’s view of an OIS. From the comfort of their device, computer, or TV screens, they watch, sometimes in slow motion, over and over, an incident unfold. Then they watch the follow-up coverage. Clearly, that cell phone doesn’t look like a gun, sitting there on that table, under all those lights.

Of course, it doesn’t. Not in the 20/20 clarity of a video. But, in the murky darkness of an unlit backyard, obscured by the tall grass, it sure could be a gun in that guy’s hand. If you were a cop, would you bet your life that the object the guy or gal is refusing to drop is only a cell phone?

Again, in those situations, I might understand people uninformed about law enforcement tactics could be upset, especially family members and friends of the person police shot. But, the left’s beatification of criminals into saints is a step too far and occurs in so many high-profile police shootings.

We all know about the Ferguson police officer who shot a burglary suspect after he’d assaulted and tried to take the officer’s gun. Canonized Saint Michael Brown by Black Lives Matter.

There’s the suspect shot by Seattle police officers after they saw the known felon in possession of a firearm reach for that gun. Saint Che Taylor, sanctified by socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.

In Baltimore, police chased a known drug dealer with an extensive criminal history for suspicion of dealing drugs. The suspect later died after severely injuring himself while riding in a prisoner van. Declared Saint Freddie Gray by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

And recently, Portland police officers shot a person suspected of just having shot two people. The officers shot the suspect after he refused to drop his gun and allegedly pointed it at the cops. Saint Patrick Kimmons was consecrated by BLM and Antifa. A candlelight vigil was held for the man—who was suspected of shooting two people.

Now, you must give latitude to what mourning family members say. They are grieving. But those understandable familial sentiments don’t change the facts of what happened, and it doesn’t make them saints. Anti-cop leftists, however, are a different story. They should be held responsible for their lies, provocations, and violence.

Can you imagine how many police officers the leftists would fire, or worse, toss into prison if they could? If their radical confederacy of anti-cop, fascist, and socialist Democrat groups ever had a controlling majority of the executive, congressional, and judiciary branches, that’s what they’d do.

You think race relations and anti-police attitudes were bad under President Obama? Now, that they’ve got control of the leadership of one of the two major political parties, just watch how bad it would get. If reasonable liberals and Democrats don’t rise up and take their party back from the radicals, what will happen to law and order in America? Would any police shooting be justified?

It seems, for the anti-cop left, the only reasonable police shooting would be if a black cop shoots a KKK member, wearing a white sheet and hood, standing before a burning cross in the front yard of a black family’s house, armed with an AK 47 in one hand and a Molotov Cocktail in the other, about to firebomb the place.

Cops wonder because, especially in leftist-run cities, some of the most anti-cop people occupy (pun intended) the mayor’s office, police oversight boards, and city council chambers.

In fact, right now in Washington State there is an anti-police initiative on the ballot for the upcoming elections. I-940 will make it easier to prosecute cops for use-of-force incidents, even if they acted in good faith, harbored no malice, and feared for their lives. Proponents disguised it as a police accountability and training initiative. And the state’s far left attorney general has made certain everything associated with this initiative is biased toward its supporters.

Another example, Seattle city Councilwoman Kshama Sawant refused to stop referring to two police officers, who killed an armed suspect, as “murderers.” In fact, the officers are suing Sawant for defamation.

Sawant is an open socialist, so, as with so many in the neo-socialist, Democrat left, due process and the presumption of innocence are reserved for leftists (think: how the Dems treated Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh compared with Democrat Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison). The differences are striking and, for the Dems, a window into their collective souls.

I recently heard a poignant comment about leftist behavior from Michigan Senate candidate John James. Putting it succinctly, he said, “The left calls the right’s speech violence but calls the left’s violence speech.”

Just consider how often the left has violently shut down conservative speakers on university campuses, accusing them of “hate speech.” Then the left proclaims the conservatives’ “hate speech” to be “violence,” somehow justifying their actual violence. Nice bit of political alchemy there, eh?

In general, aside from individual criminals, the left also proclaims radical protesters are virtual saints. They believe the leftist activists’ virtue and moral authority, with which they imbue themselves, makes it so. They are right, and you are wrong is all you need to know. In other words, they are saints and you are sinners.

But we on the right do have a potent weapon to determine what the left’s plans are. If you’re ever wondering what the left is up to, just listen to what they’re accusing the right of doing.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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