As a teenager I took a summer course called “Criminal Justice Systems.”
I learned some obsolete lessons, like how to inspect the filament of a light bulb to see if it was lit when the car crashed.
I learned some timeless lessons, like don’t shoot into a moving car.
As an adult I learned to recognize a pattern in news stories. When police want to shoot somebody they step in front of a moving car, gun drawn, and blast away in “self-defense.”
A typical story is last week in southern California. “Fearing for his life” the officer shot at a car that wouldn’t have hit him.
We know it wouldn’t have hit him because he didn’t kill the driver. He killed a passenger and a dog. The car stopped because the driver hit a roadblock.
If he had killed the driver, the car still would have kept rolling in whatever direction it was going. It wasn’t going to slam on the brakes on its own. In a few years, maybe, but for now pedestrians still have to jump out of the way.
Shooting into a car in these circumstances isn’t a legitimate use of force. A freeway sniper with a rifle might do the job, but not a street cop with a handgun. This is how police execute people. This time they executed the wrong person.
This may be an urban tradition. When I learned not to shoot into cars I was in the mostly-rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Here in Massachusetts I read about police shooting drivers in the back of the head.
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