Warning: for my regular readers, this gets graphic in description but there are no visuals to avoid.
Right, I rarely do this… But I just heard and saw the stills and footage of a man in Miami who ate the face off another man. Rudy Eugene was shot to death by police, four shots. I wouldn’t be talking about it at all if I hadn’t read a load of comments about this incident on a website. The reactions just astounded me.
From America: I like that cops kill people that are eating other people’s faces off. “Get over it” (the bit in quotes from several commenters).
From everywhere else: How terrible that the cop had to use lethal force and shoot the man four times to stop him. Surely something else could have been done, we don’t allow our police to have guns and you Americans are too trigger-happy. Tasers, pepper spray, baton bludgeoning, and shooting the assailant in the legs were all mentioned as possible methods.
Okay, you’re both wrong. “Get over it” is not a valid argument. Neither is stating that you are happy that you live in a place where the law can kill people just because they are allowed to. I’m the daughter of a retired cop, and almost became one myself. Cops are people, and they make mistakes just like people do: all the time, every day. Being glad that you live in a place where those mistakes can be legally lethal isn’t something to be ‘proud’ of. If you can’t come up with a logical reason for why you think this shooting was justified, please don’t talk. You are the reason other people don’t like Americans.
The system needs work; I believe that human error is a terrible thing when lives are in the balance. I am not anywhere near qualified or educated enough to offer up a solution.
Now, the non lethal suggestions. The victim and assailant were on the ground, prone, and by appearances they were both naked or barely clothed on a hot summer Southern Florida day. Tasering would have further injured the bleeding man, because their bodes were in contact via various bodily fluids and actual fucking TEETH. I’m pretty sure the attacker had to have at least one hand on his victim, because it’s hard to rip someone’s face off without holding said face still. So – no taser, an instant decision by the officer on scene, if he even had one: and correct.
Next, pepper spray. Now, would YOU spray pepper in the face of a man with no face? Because the eating was still in progress, you know. Bad man’s face right there with faceless man’s. No, you wouldn’t do that. Another instant decision.
Leg shooting? No help here, the guy isn’t running away! What would sudden, non-lethal injury do to him? Not much other than perhaps cause more damage to the victim.
Not suggested: going up and grabbing the guy’s leg to drag him away, after repeated commands to cease and desist were ignored. Um. You’d really have to have balls of steel to do this, and a lot of back up in case the assailant turned on you. A uniform and bulletproof vest isn’t going to help against someone willing and able to tear off another’s face with his own teeth. The idea would have crossed my mind, were I the officer on the scene -but I’m pretty sure that sort of risk is discouraged in training. It’s really, really risky and not guaranteed to help the victim at all, and actually might put not only the cop but any bystanders at risk if the assailant escapes.
Baton/nightstick blows? Again, no – you’d have to get too close, and the risk to yourself and the victim is too great. No guarantee it would work, either – and in the meantime, someone is being eaten alive right in front of your eyes.
Clearly the guy is nuts, NO ONE does that sort of thing. So, he’s nuts…not in his right mind and probably not deserving to die for it. No one else deserved to be hurt or killed either. I think his only recourse was shooting the assailant to death – I can’t say how far apart those four shots were, but if it were me behind the gun, I’d be dammed aware that the last one hadn’t quite done the job and another terrible, horrible, necessary, shot was needed. The other critique I read about the shooting is that the victim and perpetrator were, indeed, face to face – and there was a risk of hitting the victim as well. Maybe, maybe. I can’t recall the last time a cop shot a victim while aiming for the criminal, though I suppose it has happened. If it were me, I’d take the chance – not only as the fastest and most secure way to stop the attack. I’d also be thinking, in the back of my mind: poor fucker, I wouldn’t want to live like that, if I miss it will be doing him a favor.
Not saying that’s a justification. Just saying, ‘if it were me’. I sure as shit would rather die than live with what this man will have to live with – if he lives at all.
I’d love to hear what my father has to say about this – maybe he’ll allow me to post a comment on his behalf…