Kid Dealing Pot Didn’t Deserve to Be Shot
A university student is in possession of marijuana and sells some to an undercover officer. The police raid his room and, as he’s lawfully reacting to the break-in, an officer shoots him in the chest.
There’s no question that there was a crime here to investigate and bring charges for. But that doesn’t make the situation any less disturbing. The officer in the case was called to account only for having his trigger finger in the wrong place and will probably face no more than a reprimand. Indeed, his supporters are apparently rallying against even that. But the chain of irresponsible decisions on the part of the police goes much deeper than a misplaced finger.
Even if you think that people that sell pot should face death, it just as easily could have been someone other than Copp who happened to be in that apartment when the officers busted in (indeed, officers break into completely wrong addresses and shoot unarmed people all the time), someone else completely innocent that got shot, maybe even killed. It was the officers in question that chose to use that level of highly chaotic force to deal with what by all accounts was wholly non-violent case of possession and sale. And they are thus at least partly responsible for what has become a highly predictable outcome: citizens (and sometimes even officers) maimed or even killed in the course of those tactics. I say predictable because this sort of needless death and violence has become a very common occurrence with police raids all across the U.S. and Canada, and there is rarely any justification in retrospect as to why the paramilitary tactics were actually justified or necessary to enforce the law.
Moral responsibility is not a binary question, or even zero sum. Just because one person has done something wrong does not blanket justify everything that anyone else does in trying to deal with the consequences.