Via Vox: Two Brooklyn police officers were shot and killed execution-style today by a lone shooter, an African American male named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who had posted two messages on Instagram suggesting that he was putting “wings on pigs today” because “they take one of ours, we take two of them.” The message was accompanied by hashtags referencing Eric Garner and Mike Brown. The shooter later killed himself, and had allegedly shot an ex-girlfriend as well.
1. The dangerous escalation of rhetoric and the persistent misrepresentation of facts by civil rights advocates, activists, journalists and pundits made this kind of episode nearly inevitable. You cannot flood the airwaves with constant references to “police shooting unarmed black men” as if there was an organized racist liquidation of blacks by police in the streets and not risk sparking violence from the hysterical, the deranged, the angry, the lawless and the desperate.
2. The irresponsible “hands up” protests did not cause these deaths, but they probably helped create the conditions that led to them. The shootings of the two NYPD police don’t make the false “hands up” lie—which continues to assert that Michael Brown was executed when the evidence indicates he was not, and that there was racial bias involved, when there is no evidence of this at all—any more unethical, reckless or irresponsible than it already was. It was wrong from the beginning. It was wrong to assert these things before what happened in Ferguson had been investigated, and it was wrong to keep asserting them after it was clear that they were unsubstantiated or false. It is still wrong. It is still dangerous.
3. The response to the shootings by those who have continued to suggest racist murder by police in specific incidents absent any proof, and in Brown’s death, in defiance of the known evidence, continues the theme. Al Sharpton, who is a prime offender, wrote..
“I am outraged at the killing of 2 police officers in Brooklyn. That is why we stress non violence as the only way to fight for justice.”
Despicable. “Justice,” in this context, suggests that the killings are in response to injustice, and that the injustice is the intentional and racist killing of unarmed black men. Sharpton’s use of “justice” of late is well-publicized: “Justice for Mike Brown, ” “Justice for Eric Garner,” Justice for Trayvon.” This phrasing, setting off the murders of the police with “fight for justice” continues the lies, misrepresentations and manipulation of public opinion, especially among African Americans. There is no evidence that Brown or Garner, or other shooting victims like John Crawford or 12-year old Tamir Rice were shot because they were black, except that they were black, which for Sharpton and others like Eric Holder, is enough. Each of these is also a separate case in which “justice” is a complicated mess of facts and law, with no societal conclusions to be drawn or clarified by considering them together. Tying them together, as, for example, Rep. John Lewis did last week, will create irrational anger based on false narratives.
Similarly, Ferguson protest leader Deray McKesson tweeted…
“I do not condone the killing of the two NYPD officers today. I do not condone the killing of unarmed black people. I do not condone killing.”
Also despicable. He, like the alleged shooter Brinsley, is drawing a false equivalence between what may be legal shootings by police unrelated to color and the killing of the two officers, who were not black, in response. Mckesson, like Sharpton, like Lewis, like Colbert King in the Washington Post today, like Cosby accuser Beverly Johnson on NPR and in Vanity Fair, and like so many others equally dishonest and/or irresponsible to continue the “hands up!” myth, are playing with fire.
4. There are respected commenters on Ethics Alarms who have argued passionately that “hands up” is a legitimate rallying cry for reform even if the facts don’t support it in the Brown case. This incident, I believe, shows how naive and dangerous that argument is. False narratives of gross injustices, capital crimes and racism by the police cannot magically transform into productive platforms for reform and discussion. They sow anger, distrust, violence and hate, and incidents like what happened today in Brooklyn are made more likely as a result.
5. The deaths of police officers in the wake of the ongoing, high-profile campaign to demonize police and the justice system for political advantage were predictable. More such deaths are also likely, unless the rhetoric from civil rights and political leaders becomes responsible and fairly represents the facts and the law. Public figures, activists and journalists who continue the “hands up” lie or who link Garner, Crawford, Rice, Brown and Trayvon Martin in a manufactured conspiracy of the justice system to profile and kill unarmed black men are accountable for what happens next.
36 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Brooklyn Police Shootings”
Excellent, excellent post Jack. Thank you.
I was appalled at DiBlasio’s response when confronted by a reporter at the press conference that maybe some of the rhetoric was at the heart of the executions. He said “now is not the time for politics but to mourn”. He was quick to inject politics into the matter of Garner going so far as to reflect on the challenges and fears of his own bi-racial son regarding the NYPD.
Bratton should have resigned immediately out of contempt for the man. DiBlasio, et al helped created the hostile work environment that cost these two young men their lives. If being a cop is to be vilified by your own mayor, or other elected officials it is no longer a noble profession and no amount of money can compensate the police officers who were despised by the very community they are sworn to protect, let alone the families of the fallen.
I am tired of hearing about the community’s good feelings toward the police by the majority of residents. Where the hell were they two weeks ago when the streets were clogged by protesters?
The police should have a mass walkout to show the world No police – No Peace. Putting your life on the line to protect those who will condemn you for doing your job is insane.
Mr. President, when you get off the back nine I am waiting to hear your take on this event. I guess this is what he means by a healthy conversation about race in America.
Deblasio is complicit, and Holder. This is going to get worse, because the civil rights grievance industry senses a golden opportunity, and the Democrats and progressives either can’t see past their own biases, or they are equally corrupt, OR they don’t know how to do what’s right—insist on facts rather than “narratives”—without feeling like they are siding with racists or being one. I don’t see any way out of a multilevel catastrophe.
I don’t see Deblasio’s commets in the same camp, but then I may have missed some.
What I’ve seen reported was that the police union was very upset that he said he was disappointed that there were no charges in the garner case. Frankly I agree. Once Garner was was restrained, they had a duty to provide medical care as needed. Ignoring him and letting him die is negligence. All officers involved were equally culpable.
Follow up point: Garner is most definitely not “innocent” in my view. His crime plus his resistance put him there as you pointed out.
He also said that his bi-racial son was at risk, potentially, from police officers.
With respect… the perception is that innocent civilians are more in danger of being shot or killed by NYPD police than police are in danger from murderers like this one..
The numbers appear to bear that out.
The killer here had killed before. He killed himself after killing again. He’s not a representative sample.
I have a naive faith that, as most NYPD police are at worst trying to do a difficult job, and at best are heroic to put it bluntly, that it is statistically unlikely the victims here did anything to deserve censure, let alone the death penalty. Moreover, even if they had committed misdeeds worthy of capital punishment, if we return to the law of the jungle, vigilantism rather than due process, then even more innocents die.
When police investigate police and give themselves a clean bill of health regardless of facts, then there is due process in name only. So this kind of thing may happen, not involving a deranged killer (as here) but someone who has had enough. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet.
Police lie when it comes to shootings. Video shows reports are always fiction in the cases where they do something wrong, and there appears to be no penalty for that. They’re seen as just another street gang.
As with the late and unlamented Alfonse Capone, gangs might even do a better job of policing than the NYPD.
I don’t consider this to be a good thing, and I’m not at all sure that these perceptions aren’t more accurate than not.
Here’s an corresponding example to show what I mean: Another deranged killer.
There’s a lot of Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s in uniform.
PTSD is rampant among police, as is suicide, domestic abuse, depression and substance abuse. The reason is the job, and the stresses complicated by the “hands up” mentality. I see no comparison to Ismaaiyl Brinsley.
You carefully omitted the part that her husband a part time police officer returned fire from his service revolver.
Why is it that you can find a rationale to obviate any responsibility for minorities and women but males and especially police officers are always at fault. Is it at all possible that the job stresses create the conditions that lead to a mental collapse. If not, then then there are no sociological/psychological mitigating factors for others that persistently perpetuate violence as part of the culture in which they live.
This cop will probably be on death row for this.
How do the numbers bear that out? “Innocent” civilians? Brown wasn’t innocent. Garner wasn’t innocent. Innocent are the people who are shot in mistaken SWAT-style raids, but the issue there isn’t racism. The capitol punishment argument is intellectually disingenuous, because it posits an execution. Neither Garner nor Brown were executed—that’s the lie. Police used excessive force that wouldn’t have killed a normal, healthy male: there was no mens rea. Brown, it appears, was attacking with intent to do harm: self-defense isn’t an execution either. Had “enough” of what?
I’m willing to believe that police of both colors are more quick to believe that black suspects are dangerous than whites, more likely to harass blacks for minor infractions, more likely to see threats when there may not be any. On the other hand, this kind of anti-cop culture among blacks encourages displays of defiance, or aggression, and those can escalate into Brown-style tragedies.
Yes, police lie in these situations: no wonder. Look at how complex, life-threatening, in the field, difficult decisions are going to be second-guessed and turned into accusations of racism and viciousness by the press and activists waiting to pounce. The starting point for avoiding police violence is for responsible citizens, of any race, to obey the law, respect the police, be compliant if stopped or arrested, don’t resist arrest, and never, never be aggressive to police.
I didn’t mention race once.
Actually, I was thinking of the many who get hit by NYPD bullets when they obviously weren’t the target. I also said NYPD, not police in general.
Please read what I wrote, not what you assume I must have written based on the current racial hysteria that’s going about at the moment.
I don’t see what you think you are getting at here, ZB, I really don’t. I could, and would, cite those stories for the opposite argument, that police work is fraught with such on the spot, make the wrong ones and you are dead choices that criticizing the choices after the fact is the purest consequentialism, and ignorance of moral luck. In the first story, are the police supposed to just let a gunman fire in a crowded area, at them and others, because the police bullets might hit bystanders too? In the second, what if the man had been pulling out a gun, and shot bystanders as the police stood by, afraid of missing him, hitting others, and getting sued? Are you objecting to the felony-murder theory that a criminal is responsible for the deaths he causes by setting in motion a series of events related to a crime?
And the issue IS race. White protesters have been prevented from participating in some protests—it’s race. This is the MX theory of debate—change the location under cover. “White police are hunting our black teens!” “Prove it!” “Well, police use excessive force, then!”
Police use excessive force when the result is that a black man is killed. That’s what the hysteria is about. Do you really think Sharpton and Holder (Obama) are concerned about white victims when they treat the parents of Brown as martyrs? Why weren’t the stories above national controversies?
Not that far away from where I live, there was a recent event that left 2 innocents dead, 3 wounded.The police have not been criticised for not going in guns blazing. We understand that it is a risky business, all you can do is your best. We won’t second-guess, after OKing the training they receive as the best we can give.
That would have been better on the evidence, yes.
16 shots were fired by police. 12 hit bystanders. 10 hit the gunman.
The gunman didn’t hit anyone.
Had the police not fired under those circumstances – or, more reasonably, not blazed away in a situation where they were certain to cause more casualties than the gunman could have – but had fired fewer, more carefully aimed shots – then fewer casualties would have resulted.
In the incident in Sydney, after a shot had been fired inside, the police went in “mob handed” with everything they had. But they aimed carefully, most of the explosions were not gunshots, but stun grenades.
They were under fire too, one policeman got wounded by a shotgun blast. The killer got off one shot many seconds before they entered, one shot as they were about to enter, and at least one at the police.
But none of the hostages were shot by police. By luck, none were injured by the grenades either, though they could have been – the killer had an eye put out for example, but as he was shot by multiple 9mm aimed rounds, that’s irrelevant.
These were trained SWAT teams, so rather better at this in training and equipment than the average plod, but the principle is obeyed by all police.
We expect our police to put themselves in harm’s way. We expect them not to endanger innocents unduely even if they are in fear of their lives.
There’s been a lot of BS written about the militarisation of US police. The fact is, it’s all superficial. The US military these days obeys ROE – Rules Of Engagement – sometimes even silly ones – even at the risk of their own lives. The NYPD has the trappings, but apparently no more discipline or concern for innocent lives than any other gang.
This post is already too long, but if you treat your society as a warzone where you are surrounded by hostiles, expect them to treat you as the enemy.
Well, if we’re going to broaden the issue from NYPD to police in general, perhaps you can explain to me how your advice would help in these two additional cases.
With respect… the perception is that innocent civilians are more in danger of being shot or killed by NYPD police than police are in danger from murderers like this one..
The numbers appear to bear that out.
You went on to say the killer was not a representative sample. So if that is the case why did Diblasio condemn his entire department after Garner. Why do the leaders in that community state that police departments across the country systemically engage in racially biased brutality or that the U.S suffers from persistent systemic racism? How convenient it is when non- police perpetrators of violence are never a representative sample but all police are perceived as racist. If Black lives matter then you better work on convincing those young black males that take more black lives through violence each year and the abortion mills that provide unfettered access to
terminating potential black lives.
What the numbers show is that most murder victims are perpetrated by people of similar races. The number of people shot by police in the line of duty is dwarfed by the number killed and injured by other non-police. And, the number of police killed in the line of duty outpaces the number of questionable police shootings annually. Yes, I left out the number of blacks killed by police in non-questionable shootings because if they did not discharge their weapon then they or someone else would probably be dead at the hands of the black person that was involved. Should we count the black man that got killed after he hacked up several officers with an ax recently? What about the officers that were assaulted on the Brooklyn Bridge last week? Do you suggest that they wait to be shot at before they defend themselves?
The police are sitting ducks right now because some wanted to incite more hatred for political or financial gain. Tell me how Rev. Al can owe the IRS $5 million + on a clergyman’s salary? How does he earn the money that would create such a tax bite? He, and all the others that foment distrust do so to enhance their personal power and lifestyle. Keep in mind he is the one yelling no justice no peace and the people in the streets were yelling “what do we want – dead cops – when do we want them – now. Well you got them.
Not one “leader spoke up to condemn those cries until it was too damn late. No one has the right to incite violence. The young better wake up and learn that they are being exploited as canon fodder for their leaders who wash their hands on any wrongdoing when the shit hits the fan.
You went on to say “When police investigate police and give themselves a clean bill of health regardless of facts, then there is due process in name only. So this kind of thing may happen, not involving a deranged killer (as here) but someone who has had enough. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. Police lie when it comes to shootings. Video shows reports are always fiction in the cases where they do something wrong, and there appears to be no penalty for that. They’re seen as just another street gang.”
Again, you misrepresent the facts. Grand Juries failed to issue an indictment – those are people like you and me. The notion that video shows that all reports are always fiction. That’s pure hyperbole presented as a fact – which is just another way of saying playing fast and loose with the truth. Personally I am sick of this and the way politicians, lawyers and activists become semantic contortionists to claim they were not lying.
If you are told over and over that the police are against you and that serves your narrative that helps you avoid personal responsibility as a human being you will be in the streets protesting every thing they do. So perception and feelings may drive the bias against the police but that does not make it reality. It is delusional. The neighborhoods in question seem to want it both ways. Keep them safe but don’t arrest or question anyone that may look like them. Get real.
I wish you had to go to the 13 year old son of officer Ramos and tell him that the police are a bunch of lying racists as he lies awake in bed crying for his father. You just lumped him into that broad category with your set of beliefs you displayed in your post. Merry Christmas – the inmates are taking over the asylum.
“With respect… the perception is that innocent civilians are more in danger of being shot or killed by NYPD police than police are in danger from murderers like this one..
The numbers appear to bear that out.”
Wow. Thank God I didn’t have to respond to that BS.
Erm…to get this stereotype out of the way, but uh….
Allahu ackbar anyone??
One final point
The family of officer Ramos and Lieu should file suit against the leaders of the march that yelled for wanting dead cops. The blame and financial responsibility should fall squarely on those that fomented the hatred that led to this. DiBlasio included.
Viscerally, I agree; legally, I don’t see it as possible.
“The family of officer Ramos and Lieu should file suit against the leaders of the march that yelled for wanting dead cops. The blame and financial responsibility should fall squarely on those that fomented the hatred that led to this. DiBlasio included.”
I’m sure some left wing foundation / billionaire would pay any damages on behalf of Sharpton, Deblasio, etc…
And to ensure that the cycle continues, now police have reason to believe that African Americans hate them and would like to harm them. And THAT, I would say, will get some blacks killed. Good plan, Al, Mayor, Mr. Attorney General…Eugene Robinson, Rep. Lewis, and the rest. This is really going to work out well for everyone.
Re: #4. I am once again saved from the time and trouble of finding the right words to argue a point. It seems that a great many people do feel (or want to feel) that the end DOES justify the means if the end is perceived as a shortcut to an ideal, however vague and reinterpretable (justice, reform) that end may be, however disruptive the means, however questionable the motives to start with
…. Have you ever noticed that saying something is unethical just doesn’t quite do it??
I notice it all the time, but it is the safest word to use on an ethics blog when the others are emotionally loaded. This particular issue shocked me when it arose here, and puzzles me still. Charles, who I respect tremendously, even argues that “hands up” is no longer understood as referring to Wilson and Brown, and that those who use it are not accusing Wilson of murder, but making a larger point. Of course, they are both making a larger point AND accusing Wilson of murder, contrary to the findings of the grand jury and the evidence. Thus the argument really is that it is OK to falsely accuse a cop of being a racist killer if it serves a greater end. No, it isn’t.
How is it okay to repeat the “hands up” meme when it is nothing less than defamatory of Officer Wilson? Elanor Holmes Norton made a fool of herself justifying the reciting of it on the House floor; saying she’s only interested in the “bigger picture” not “who struck John.”
What a cruel idiot.
I’m not even going to dignify Zoe’s attempted hit job on policemen with a comment. I would note here that Comrade DeBlasio, at his most recent public showing, was greeted with a line of NYPD cops all turning their backs on him. I don’t think there’s a precedent in Big Apple history for that… and they’ve had some “interesting” mayors in the past! But I wouldn’t count on anything like Hizzonner’s resigning. He was still elected by a large margin.
I’m not even going to dignify Zoe’s attempted hit job on policemen with a comment.
No kidding, what a load of crap.
I’ve totally lost all respect for that poster.
“I would note here that Comrade DeBlasio, at his most recent public showing, was greeted with a line of NYPD cops all turning their backs on him.”
The sheer stupidity of the Looney Left, as epitomized by DeBlasio in this case, never ceases to amaze. Who the HELL is supposed to promote all of their agendas (forced equality, gun control, forced association, etc… ) after they have completely undermined the police state. Who is going to protect their dumb asses? I submit it is THEY who need the cops more than anybody.
I am hearing a LOT of scary talk from both sides. So far, its mostly talk but may not stay that way for much longer. This is not going to turn out well.
The Left doesn’t have a problem with police or police power. They have a problem with decentralization. As it is the only police power the left likes is that which resides at the federal level in the agencies.
Were the city police more like a gendarmerie, and controlled by the national authority you’d be damn certain the left would soil itself in love of the police.
Tex – you make an interesting point. Is this part of some long term plot to undermine local police and usher in the “Federales”? Somehow, I think thats giving DeBlasio too much credit.
But not Obama, Holder and Jarrett, Bill.
Here’s a link to an article that I read just this morning; it gives some insight into the police point of view In these matters:
Good referral, Jim. Problem is, it’s only a statement of valid, highly desirable discussion points ending with a plea for that discussion to take place — “It does not matter if the cobblers and the masons fail to do their jobs well. But if the Guardians fail, the democracy will crumble.” — Plato’s voice has never been a rallying cry. Slogans are louder and heard by more and have never required validation. Though they do get analyzed after the fact. I think Zoe was speaking to some of those points, presenting solid evidence. Too little, too soon, perhaps. (I hope, not too late.)
I have no reason to trust police in general; I have, in fact, several reasons to do otherwise, but I have had good friends among them — no, they didn’t become enemies, I outlived them (I had the easier life). Not to make a pun, but of all jobs under the sun, being in charge of enforcing … not making, not interpreting … the law is not a black-and/or-white situation. It never will be. The cause of the present uproar is bogus, the Cause now being propounded is spurious, and the police target is — for now — misplaced, an add-on, and as been pointed out, a deliberately constructed diversion by individuals with political or power agendas.
This is not new action or reaction; it is a continuation of unsolved ongoing problems.
It was only a matter of time before the Unfinished Business of making-equal-while-keeping-separate the races popped its national cork and all the poison and confusion came spewing out. (Unlike the similar, quieter uprisings of genders, classes, religions ….) Yes, it will probably drain itself out into rivulets of bitter frustration, nonagenarian reminiscence, and happy academic probings (anyone remember Watts? Selma? – oh, you’ll get that movie in January, folks; say, how about those fights about whether it was the Black Hand or Serbian Intelligence who set off the assassination that triggered WWI?) What is left of any democratic process will fall to inertia, return to “real” life and the tv version thereof, and leave a wider divide for the succeeding generations of police and civilian, American and African-American (dumbest designation ever), and the political and economic polarizations WITHIN and among them.
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