after weeks of silence the president and candidates weigh in
Eric LaMont Gregory
Due process, one of the miracles of our republic will render ultimately a verdict in the Florida teen shooting case.
The first official to speak with the shooter at the scene was a narcotics officer. Narcotics investigators bring with them a certain skill set which includes the ability to judge sobriety as well as illicit substance induced erratic behavior. The testimony of that first on the scene officer is crucial. And, yet and in spite of a fatal shooting by one civilian of another, no blood test or even a breath test was administered.
This is the first shortcoming in the shooting investigation, and the prime reason the chief of police of that city has resigned, temporarily at least.
But scientifically there is still hope, unless the same officials who did not test the shooter for illicit substances or alcohol that night have also advised him to shave his head and other body hair to its roots. A hair sample will reveal a number of things about the sobriety of the shooter on that night even at this late date.
Failing that, there are other equally revelatory body reservoirs that retain substances through which it can be ascertain whether or not the shooter was under the influence of an illicit substance.
Medical reports will also be important. The struggle as described would have left significant trauma, cuts and abrasions, on both the shooter and the teen. Having one's head repeatedly forced into contact with a hard surface as reported by one witness would have required the police to have the shooter checked out by a doctor, x-rays ordered , and other examinations to ascertain whether there was internal bleeding. To fail to do so would leave the authorities liable if an injury presented later that could have been discovered by a timely medical examination. Where are the reports of the medical examinations?
There is no doubt, to the contrary, that all possible forensic evidence producing tests have been run on the victim.
We will hear a lot of rumblings about the urban teen behavior of the victim and need to know about the behavior of the shooter as well, such as, what is his actual occupation and social skills that would allow him to believe that he was qualified to follow and possibly be called upon to use force to apprehend anyone, especially under the poorly lit circumstances he encountered that night.
The apprehension here is that it was his belief that he could overpower the teen he was following against the advice of the police dispatcher, and he was armed.
Why this is so important in this case, is that the community watch volunteer ignored the advice of the police dispatcher to watch and wait for the police, who arrived on the scene just one-minute after the fatal shooting.
What triggered the shooter to ignore the dispatcher's advice, follow the teenager and then engage in such confrontational and lethal behavior?
Was the fatal incident the first and only time the shooter had engaged that teenager that night, or had he engaged that teen or any other teen on that night or any other night? How long had the shooter been a community watch volunteer and what is the record of his past interventions, had he ignored or generally followed the advice of dispatchers over his tenure as a community watch volunteer? These are some of the questions that the 'full field investigation' being conducted by the FBI will clarify.
The ability, or inability of the investigators to establish or fail to establish a pattern of behavior on the part of the teen as well as the shooter is vital to an understanding of why there was a struggle between the two and why someone died that night.
Had the shooter, in fact, seen the teen leave the gated community on his way to the convenience store and then confronted him on his return trip?
Remembering that the solution to a crime is infinitely easier than its prevention.
This shooting is a tragedy for everyone involved, and we can ill afford to allow it to become a travesty by rushing to judgement.
This case raises a number of issues including the weeks of silence by the president and the Republican presidential hopefuls, the gun laws of Florida, should community watch volunteers be armed, the nature of the training they receive, whether they should watch only and call the police, and as importantly, the way we as a nation handle these highly charged incidences.
I believe in the American people and that our system of justice, our constitution, will guide us to the truth.
That is the American way.
Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas
Second Inaugural Address
Saturday, March 4, 1865
Fellow-Countrymen: On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.