If the reactions to my earlier post about Devin Brown are any indication this is an issue that a lot of people feel very strongly about, unfortunately everyone don’t feel the same way. And worse, this isn’t the first time here in LA when something has happened with police officers and the community has been split. Mack Reed at LAVoice is talking how bull horns on both sides are throwing around the “R” word. People are either threatening a recurrence, hinting at, or straight up trying to incite. But how is this all going to play out? Mack has a prediction:
Devin Brown’s death – a senseless, horrible tragedy – will be found to have been “within policy.” LAPD officers will be exonerated by both Internal Affairs and D.A. Steve Cooley’s office: whether you agree with them or not, there is a good deal of precedent essentially allowing cops to use deadly force to defend themselves against a ramming attempt, which is usually classified as “assault with a deadly weapon.”
If the peace holds – and it should, provided everybody can calm the f*ck down in the next few months and vent their frustrations directly and non-physically at the people responsible instead of L.A.’s innocent shopkeepers, pedestrians, strip malls and other random bystanders – there will then be a civil suit filed by Devin Brown’s family.
Litigation on that will stretch on for a good year and a half – unless the LAPD does the right thing and settles out of court for whatever it takes to admit enough fault and accept enough punitive damages to soothe the public’s rage.
And then a verdict will come up short of the sort of total vindication that the public – not versed in the intricacies of tort law and the subtleties of use-of-force policies demands.
And then we shall see whether Los Angeles remains smart enough not to repeat the horrible, self-destructive lapse of clarity that caused us all so much pain and loss in 1965 and 1992.