Posted tagged ‘Tragedy’

Well, this is awful

January 8, 2014

A North Carolina teenager suffers from schizophrenia. His family calls the cops for help during an episode.  The first officers on the scene taser and restrain the boy, Keith Vidal, 18 years old. Another car rolls up, and, according to the boy’s parents, Mark Wilsey and Mary Vidal, the new officer on the scene decides to handle the situation his way:

“We don’t have time for this,” Wilsey recalled one of the officers saying before he fired in between the two officers who were holding the teen down.

1280px-Thetriumphofdeath

You can guess what comes next:

The Boiling Spring Laes Police Chief has cleared his officers of any wrong doing at the scene. Chief Brad Shirley says an internal review shows his officers did not break any laws.

That may not be the last word. The local prosecutor is investigating:

DA Jon David offered few new details other than that the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) had been called in to investigate. He said that it would take time to determine if a crime had been committed…

…but the parents have their doubts:

the family said that they were not invited to attend….Outside the press conference, the family held signs, demanding justice for Keith Vidal.

It is early days, of course, and the lawyer for the cop suspended after the incident says his client will be seen to be innocent, which is the presumption until a jury says otherwise.  All the usual disclaimers apply.

But on the facts established so far (like this one: “The first unit on scene reported a confrontation in the hallway, but told Brunswick County Dispatchers several times that everything was OK.”), this looks very bad indeed.

And even if there are mitigating circumstances that come to light, still, this is what happens when guns are the first tool you reach for instead of the last.

That’s the deep problem with American gun (nut) culture.  There are just too many guns out there, available to anyone “responsible” or not.  The reality, of course, is that there are lots of situations where guns are inappropriate and lots of people for whom guns are just a really bad idea.

Some of those people are cops.

The last full measure of the misery of this story?  The same couple whose kid  was just gunned down in front of them just lost their daughter to a car wreck.  I can’t imagine…

I hugged my son extra hard when I got home last night, I can tell you.

Image:  Pieter Breughel the Elder, The Triumph of Death, c. 1562.

 

Oy. (Guns Are Not Toys/Every Gun Is Always Loaded, Folks Dept.)

February 14, 2012

I know that I’ve been even more than usually AWOL around here lately — and that’s not going to change very much for the next while, given the awesome comprehensiveness of the ass-kicking my day job is giving me these days.  It’s hard, really, because the more or less total collapse of the GOP primary field is turning some of my favorite media star-hacks into clattering, gibbering, addled parodies of what were pretty much cartoons to begin with.  What we might call a target-rich environment. (A singularly poor choice of image, as you will read in a moment.)

But there you go. Astonishingly, those who pay me daily expect me to respond daily.  The nerve!

And thus it is that I drop in just to offer up this, which isn’t funny at all.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Authorities say the daughter of a pastor was accidentally shot in the head at a church in St. Petersburg.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Grace Connection Church Sunday at about 12:24 p.m. Sunday.

Investigators say Moises Zambrana was showing his gun in a small closet to another church member – the victim’s boyfriend, according to CBS affiliate WTSP – who was interested in buying a firearm. Zambrana reportedly took out the magazine of the Reuger 9mm weapon but did not know there was a bullet in the chamber.

The gun went off and fired through a wall, striking 20-year-old Hannah Kelley. She was transported to Bayfront Medical Center to undergo surgery and remained in critical condition late Sunday.

“There is a big level of concern ’cause she may or may not survive. But we’re all praying for her and, right now, I guess that’s the best we can do,” church member Tony Diehl told WTSP.

Deputies said Zambrana has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

No charges have been filed. [CBS/AP via th]

Y’all may recall that  I’m no fan of guns — I think a gun is a damn stupid thing to have around the house, and I especially disdain the notion that a more heavily armed society is safer than one less well strapped…

….Still, I wouldn’t say that no one should have a gun.

I’ve shot at targets before and enjoyed it, and I come from a couple of generations of career gunners in the Royal Artillery, so it would be hypocritical (as well as insufficiently filial) to  suggest otherwise.

But I do think we are lax in the demand of absolute responsibility of those who choose to own guns.  I’m a strict liability kind of guy in this area.  If  you decide to own a gun, you own all of it.  It’s your job to secure it — if someone steals it and uses it to cause harm, that’s at least in part your problem. You fail as utterly Mr. Zambrana did, you should have criminal and civil liability to deal with…and so on.  A gun is a tool that is designed to apply deadly force at a distance.  Owning such a tool should carry the most rigorous obligations with it.  Anything less is disrespectful of the machine itself.

Your mileage may vary.   Have at it (and me).

Image: Antonia de Pereda y Salgado, Allegory, c. 1654