The wait is finally over. This MSNBC article confirms that the officers who shot Sean Bell are not guilty. Phew. As I look at the angry mob at the court house, I can’t help but think: This case was not even half as cut and dry as the OJ murders. Where was Al Sharpton and company then?
I don’t know if there will be a “civil disturbance” over this, although I am sure Al Sharpton would like nothing less. I do know the system worked here. Here are a few reasons why:
1. If you try and run over a peace officer (or any one else for that matter) then it seems fair for the officer to defend themselves. Especially when you do it a couple of times, and your friends are there to help.
2. Assume for a minute — which I do not — that this is a bad shooting. That doesn’t make it a crime. I have warned many a time that if we start prosecuting, as opposed to disciplining, officers for uses of force that are out of policy, we will lose our cops by the dozens.
3. The court apparently heard “conflicting” testimony on what happened that night. We are all innocent until proven guilty, and beyond a reasonable doubt is a tough, tough standard. Even the witnesses for the prosecution couldn’t nail this thing down consistently. Given that ambiguity, the verdict appears just.
Finally, and let’s not forget the good Dr. Sharpton (where is that PhD from?) and his antics here, the judge must have been swayed by the negative publicity here. I have long believed that Sharpton, Jackson, and the others are all just hurting themselves when they rile up the populous around these events. No doubt the judge heard them loud and clear - which probably made him think even harder on whether he was being swallowed up by the publicity machine. Good work, Al.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. I wonder, by the way: Do those angry folks in NYC think the OJ verdict was a rip off, too?