Can't bust every homeless guy who yells at somebody "Gimme a dollar!"
Meanwhile, Officer Jason Walters decided to go check it out. Thirteen years on the job, a routine roll. He got there, found out the guy was in the outdoor toilet, so he herded the tourists out of the way and went to go have a word. Door pops open, and the guy, bloody and waving a "razor" knife, charges out. ( I haven't heard exactly what kind of knife it was yet, but that's not important. People hijacked planes using boxcutters, a sharp is a sharp, the little ones kill you as dead as the big ones.)
The officer drew his gun and backpedaled. A slew of witnesses heard him yelling, "Put the knife down! Put it down!" over and over. The guy kept coming, the officer was, according to witnesses, in full retreat.
The knifer didn't stop.
The officer shot him four times. Guy fell over, the officer called immediately for medical aid, and the guy was dead by the time the ambulance got there.
Now if ever there was a righteous shooting, this is one. Charging loon with a knife, it's self-defense. Open and shut, anybody can see that.
But -- and you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you? -- given the assorted goings-on in Portland wherein guys have died from injuries during an arrest, a preteen girl got shot with a beanbag, and a despondent unarmed man was killed, the public's confidence in the police has been shaken.
The common thread was that those three didn't do what they were told to do right now!
Here a cautionary tale: If the po-lice in Portland tell you to jump, you jump and ask how high on the way up, else you might get kilt.
Now it might be that each of these was justified. I have discussed them, and in my mind, one of them was excessive, one was completely unnecessary. The third was just an out-and-out tragedy. Same officer was involved in both of the first two, by the by. And in the case of the homeless man who died from injuries sustained during his arrest for peeing in public, it took three years for the Chief to get around to finishing the investigation -- and allowing as how it was sad but nobody's fault.
That's not swift justice in anybody's book.
The local activists and city government are agitating and dickering for a citizens review board with teeth, and I'm guessing, despite the union's all-out effort to stop it, it's gonna happen. People want the ability to know what is going on, and they don't feel as if they have that.
The Portland Police have nobody to blame but themselves if it happens. If you want to show folks you have nothing to hide, you open the curtains and invite them to have a look. You don't fill the moat with monsters and raise the drawbridge and hope they'll get bored and go away.
The thin blue line becomes a thick blue wall when outsiders want to have a peek. On the one hand, I don't blame them; on the other hand, that trust that the police will police themselves has been rattled.
If there had been some kind of transparency so that the public got the information up front and fast, I don't think we'd be looking at things this way. And it might hamstring the police to have some do-gooder civilian board looking over their shoulders, but it's their own fault. You can't just shrug it off with, Well, shit happens, it's a tough job.
Yeah, it is, but civilians don't understand, and it is part of your job to make them understand, or you are apt to be seeking work elsewhere.
Spider Man said it: With great power comes great responsibility. Explaining why you did what you did goes with the badge and gun. If you don't volunteer it, somebody is going to demand it, and it's getting to that stage in Portland.