This question from George Stephanopoulos to Officer Wilson was unanswerable.
Imagine this answer: “Yes, I could have done things differently.” No need for a grand jury–he would have indicted himself! He would have admitted that the use of deadly force was unnecessary.
With the answer he actually gave–No, he would have done nothing differently–the officer was simply saying, there were police procedures, and he followed them to the letter.
Thus, the unanswerable nature of the query clarifies the controversy:
First, did the officer follow police procedure? Obviously, yes. The grand jury agreed.
Secondly, police procedure granted, was he WISE in following them to the letter?
The officer admitted during the interview that when he showed up at the scene all alone, he just wanted to delay Mike Brown for thirty seconds–in order for back-up to arrive. Okay, then, what ELSE could the officer have done?
How about staying in the cruiser? When the suspect began fleeing, was it necessary to get out of the car and pursue?
Why not wait for the back-up that the officer had been hoping for all along? Mike Brown would have been easy to locate (at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds). And the crime he was accused of was–a misdemeanor. (If shoplifted items fall below a certain dollar value, the crime is a misdemeanor. A handful of cigars wasn’t at the level of a felony.)
Pittsburgh’s well-known pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, had an insight on why the officer DID get out of the cruiser. In addition to following police procedure–he was pissed! He’d been punched. The suspect tried for the officer’s revolver.
I am not one to double-guess a police officer contending with fleeting moments that could cost one’s own life. Somebody once said, “Only a person who has been in combat can know what it’s like for a soldier.” In other words, we the uninitiated do well not to judge from the safety and distance of an armchair. Besides, most of us know nothing about what ARE police procedures.
A commentary written in the Post-Gazette recently (a very heartfelt and pained observation) wondered why during the ABC News interview, the officer had no inflections or emotion in his voice showing remorse. Everything was robotic monotone.
It turns out, THAT itself IS police procedure. Using a monotone voice in reporting. Defense attorney Mark O’Meara pointed this out on CNN.
Okay, then, back to the possibility of staying in the cruiser rather than pursuing. To stay put rather than charge after the suspect, the officer would have needed to absorb the humiliation and pain of being punched in the face. I don’t know that ANY police officer would have exercised such self-restraint (not to mention whether I myself could do that).
But this IS what is meant by “turn the other cheek.”
“Turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-42) does NOT mean: Let someone have his way with you. Rather, “turn the other cheek” means: Show that you are strong enough to take it. BE strong enough to take a blow–for now!–rather than respond immediately. Absorb the injustice–for now! Show that you are strong enough to take it while thinking of a better, wiser way to respond. Wanting justice immediately often results in making a situation worse. When we want justice NOW, what often results is injustice.