Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

A cop, or an executioner?

Oscar Grant and his daugher.

Oscar Grant and his daugher.

So you might have heard of it, on CNN, BoingBoing or Jacob’s livejournal entry – 27-year-old BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, a BART police officer, was involved in a fatal shooting of a 22-year-old father, Oscar Grant, on New Year Day. It was alleged that Grant and a few other passengers, who were pulled off the train at 2am in the morning by BART officers, were involved in a fight (something more than unruly conduct in public). Citizen journalism started to kick into action, with several citizen videos popping up on the Internet after the incident. Speculations and the absent of a statement from the police officer caused a peaceful protest to spiral out of control, culminating in the Oakland Riots.

Here are two videos shot by passengers on the BART train, shown on Channel 2:

I couldn’t help but shake with fear as I watched the video – under the circumstances shown in the videos (well, there might be other things happening off screen or before the video recording started that might REMOTELY justify the use of a gun), the police officer crossed the line and played the role of an executioner instead of a cop maintaining law and order in public. There is a fine line between carrying out your duties to prevent public unrests and disturbance, such as intercepting an impending fight or unruly behavior, and literally executing those involved.

In the video, Grant was in a seated position and at one instance, putting both hands up in the air as a sign of submission and willingness to cooperate. Soon after that, two police officers were scene moving Grant from a seating position to a face-down position on the floor, kneeling on top of Grant. A brief struggle ensued between Grant and the police officers… and then moment came – one pulled his gun out and fired a shot, wounding him mortally and caused his death. There is even this outrageous alternative explanation around this shooting incident that the officer might have mistaken his gun for a Taser, while it should be noted that the feel of operating a revolver and a Taser is completely different.

I am deeply saddened by Grant’s death because the police officer had abused his power:

  1. Grant was unarmed – And what justifies the execution of an unarmed civilian that had shown willingness to cooperate? Why necessitates the drawing of the gun?
  2. Grant was seated and did not put up a struggle – It’s only necessary to use a Taser (and not a gun!) on a person when he/she turns violent and aggressive. Grant did not even put up a struggle prior to arrest, and he was in fact in a sitting position against the wall.

And you know what, this is murder. The police officer is punishable with the crime of homicide/murder, with a maximum jail term up to ten to fifteen years. A death sentence on him will not set things straight though – an eye for an eye never works.

My heart goes out to Grant’s widowed wife, his fatherless daughter and his friends and family.

[Edit]: A photo-grab from Flickr, showing civilised behaviour of a policeman and a passerby asking if he could join the protest in Oakland:

{007} Stand-off

{007} Stand-off

While I was standing there taking this picture, the guy in the left of the frame was asking the police officer whether he could join the protest. The officer told him very politely that he could not, because it was an unlawful protest and the police officers were now just trying to contain it. The guy in the left of the frame asked about his Constitutional right to assembly. “I understand how you feel,” the officer said, “But these people have already committed acts of vandalism. Right now, our job is just to contain them.”

Thanks to TYWKIWDBI for the link.

Broken Glass

Broken Glass - A lady inspects the damage done to the glass panels of a shop.

More photos of the Oakland Riots – read more about it on the Flickr blog as well.

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