Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Troy Davis to be Executed

Via the wonderful blog Season of the Bitch, I became aware of the execution of Troy Davis scheduled for tomorrow in Georgia.

The Amnesty International site has the chilling story of a man railroaded for the killing of a police officer.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.

Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

Did you ever notice how killing a policeman is considered worse than killing any other human person? I find something wrong with that. It reminds me of the sense of inherent privilege and entitlement people sometimes arrogate to themselves. Americans do it travelling abroad. Rich people do it whenever they have to rub elbows with the regular people. Young white males do it all the time. It especially bothers me when policemen do it though. It really comes out when one of them gets killed and the others get talking, using the word they invented for exactly this purpose: cop-killer.

The problem is that cop-killer has become so loaded a term that in places like Georgia, the judges and jurors are often blinded to the fact that justice is being subverted, even justice according to their definition.

The killing must stop. Capital punishment is wrong, not because tomorrow in Georgia they may execute another innocent man, but because it fails to meet the Prime Criterion for killing: defense of self or others. The State has other ways of protecting us from damaged and violent men.


  1. Mike,

    I think in cases like this there is enough evidence that the death sentence should be set aside.

    I have thought of the issue of killing cops also but approached it from a different angle. I think this is where most people have seen it. What does it say about a person who is willing to risk their life by killing a cop?
    There are levels of risk in killing anyone, but someone willing to take that risk is more of a danger then someone willing to kill a 90 year old grand parent.

    Also, while I don't think very high of many cops levels of readiness and training, for the most part that readiness and training is higher then the average person. If someone can and will kill a cop, was it luck or skill that made the murder possible. One of the interesting tidbits that I've picked up is the number of gang members joining the military, getting small arms training and then coming back to train other gang members.

    Lastly, consider the issue of cop killing in regards to "who will protect us now". Gun control laws, which you endorse, have effectively disarmed a large percentage of the population. Killing the cop is killing their guardian; eliminating the last line of defense.

  2. I don't think a murdered cop is any worse than a murdered accountant. But I'm not a cop.

    I can see how eager they would be to find someone who killed one of their own. Its more than just a co-worker...its family.

    But I don't understand the coercian efforts you often read about. I would think that in these cases, almost more than any other, they would want to ensure that the right man/woman is gonna hang.

  3. Reading a bit more about it, apparently the Anti-Terroism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 has a lot to do with Davis not getting another trial.


  4. We disagree about capital punishment but I'm with you on cops not being special. It was the Robert Peele that gave us the word "bobbies" that wrote:

    Peel's Nine Principles of Policing:

    1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

    2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

    3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

    4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

    5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

    6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

    7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

    9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

    Bolding and italics mine, most especially Number SEVEN needs reminding to many.


  5. Earl, Thanks for that link to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

    Does that count as moving us closer to fascism?

  6. No comment on Robert Peele, mikeb?

  7. Tom, Please refresh my memory about Robert Peele. Did you send me a link about him? I couldn't find it.

  8. It's in my post above, memo to his London Police forces about cops being citizens not above them or special.

  9. 7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    in case you didn't feel like scrolling up :-)

  10. Well, I have to say, a "cop killer" is also scary since (as my grandfather used to say) it means they ain't afraid of NOBODY! And that is a scarier-than-average person.

    Then again, I know what you mean...it is understood that "cop-killers" are going to be roughed up from the time of their arrests, all the way through the system. Many don't even make it to the execution, and are executed far earlier.

    Great post.

  11. Yes, Robert Peele. His point number 7 certainly does need reminding to many. But, is he this one:

    "Robert Peel was born in Bury, Lancashire, on 5th February, 1788."

  12. Mike,

    I think your point of Peele's comments being a couple hundred years of out date is off base.

    As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Peele's comments are just as valid, if not more so.

    Modern Law enforcement has forgotten much of what they were intended to do. The mentality of superiority can be carried to extremes, witness:

    SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A man has been charged with battery on a police officer for allegedly passing gas and fanning it toward a patrolman.

    Jose A. Cruz, 34, of Clarksburg, W. Va., was pulled over early Tuesday for driving without headlights, police said. According to the criminal complaint, Cruz smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and failed three field sobriety tests before he was handcuffed and taken to a police station for a breathalyzer test.

    As Patrolman T.E. Parsons prepared the machine, Cruz scooted his chair toward Parsons, lifted his leg and "passed gas loudly," the complaint said.

    Cruz, according to complaint, then fanned the gas toward the officer.

    "The gas was very odorous and created contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Patrolman Parsons," the complaint alleged.

    Police seem to forget that the population has a right and a responsibility to prevent crime as much as the police - Peele's #7.

    The became clear to me about the 8th time I heard a cop stating that someone who acted in self defense shouldn't have "taken the law into his own hands." Think about that, the police basically saying that an average citizen shouldn't interfere with a criminal but leave that, after the fact, to the police. This was one of the factors in seeking my concealed carry.

    By the way, other documents from hundreds of years ago also stands up to the test of time, the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, etc.

  13. Bob, I think you're getting a little carried away with reading my mind and jumping to conclusions based on what I write. For example, I simply asked Tom if I had the right Peele. You concluded this:

    "I think your point of Peele's comments being a couple hundred years of out date is off base."

    Like most mind readers, Bob, you were completely off base.

  14. Mike,

    You are right, I did jump the gun. Not sure I wasn't accurate :) but I apologize sir.

    I'll try to avoid that in the future.