As the media is busy covering the latest rumors over which celebrity will be wearing the trendiest designer clothing to the Oscars, one particular story has gone unnoticed — the declaration by the federal government that the Michigan police officers who shot at a homeless man 47 times (hitting him 11 times) will not face any federal charges. Not even a slap on the wrist.
In what amounts to an entirely outlandish event that is both disturbing and highly revealing when it comes to the state of our society, Michigan police officers ended up firing their weapons 47 times at 49-year-old Milton Hall following a report that Hall had stolen a cup of coffee from a convenience store. A crime that undoubtedly set back the convenience store by around 5 cents in costs for the Chinese made cup and maybe another couple of cents for the coffee itself.
On July 1, 2012, officers surrounded the homeless man who was reportedly dealing with a history of mental illness and carrying a pocket knife. Captured on video, you can clearly see the entire horde of officers unloading their weapons in unison against the 49-year-old mentally ill homeless man:
But according to federal authorities from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, the officers did not act unlawfully.
“After a thorough investigation, federal authorities have determined that this tragic event does not present sufficient evidence of willful misconduct to lead to a federal criminal prosecution of the police officers involved,” a joint statement from the agencies read.
The same sentiments were also backed up by state prosecutors, who found that the officers also acted within the law in shooting Hall 47 times. As a result, Hall’s mother has launched a wrongful death suit against the city, which ultimately found that the first officer on the scene was already preparing to shoot Hall once she arrived on the scene. According to the suit, the first officer stated that she was “going to have to shoot this guy” unless other officers could arrive quickly to the scene.
Additional officers, of course, did arrive quickly to the scene and instead of helping to diffuse the situation assisted in shooting off 47 rounds at a close ranged target with extreme inaccuracy.
The reality of this story is that this injustice is yet another symptom of a police force that is trained to consider citizens as the enemy. The reason we continue to read such horror stories about the execution of citizens for holding Wii remotes and other harmless objects that don’t even look like firearms is due to the fact that the police are now led to believe in their training programs that average citizens are in fact the largest threat — that a terrorist is hiding behind every suburban corner. When officers see citizens (or even children) that we can perceive as harmless holding some type of non-threatening object in their hands, they default to their fear-based training and act without thinking.
As the police force of the United States is further calibrated to military-style training with the American people as the enemy, we will only see a sharp increase in horror stories such as 49-year-old Milton Hall’s.