Justine Ruszczyk and Police Brutality
Her death was confirmed by the law.
There is a concept in law called "Qualified Immunity" which prevents government employees from being sued when taking action in their official capacity. Furthermore, prosecutors and police officials have "prosecutorial immunity," which means that they cannot be prosecuted in many circumstances. For instance, if a prosecutor lies or withholds evidence or the police kill the wrong person, they won’t be prosecuted.
Many years ago, the Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted, where college students participated in a mock prison scenario. Some were assigned the role of correctional officer while others were inmates. The experiment started out fine, but things quickly got out of hand. The quasi-correctional officers began abusing their power. The quasi-inmates became demoralized. What this experiment proved was that prison is hard for both inmate and officer. It also proved that people given absolute power over other humans become tyrants. That is what is happening with American police.
Recently, Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk was murdered by Minneapolis police after she called to report a possible assault. She was shot in the abdomen after allegedly "slapping" the officers' squad car. So, a “slap” to the car deserves a bullet in the belly? What happened to force-to-force? She was set to be married soon. She was taken too soon, for no adequate reason. What can we take away from her death? How significant is it in the grand scheme of police work?
Ruszczyk's death could have been prevented not just that day but decades ago. Not all police are bad, but police culture is corrupted by overzealous officers and a system that does not hold them accountable for their actions. A man named Andrew Scott was killed in his own home by a deputy who had no warrant. The courts have upheld the deputy's actions, citing that even though the gun Scott brought with him to his door was aimed at the floor and that he was no threat, and even though he never fired one shot and closed his door before the officer who never identified himself as an officer fired three rounds which hit him in the back and killed him, the officer's actions were "not clearly illegal." Rulings like these have emboldened reckless cops to the point where they frame suspects on camera and still beat the case.
By all means, police should not have to worry that every time they make an arrest or use force that they will be locked away. But there has to be a balance. Officers cannot continuously be held above the law. They cannot be allowed to unjustifiably murder people and not have to answer for what they did. None of our lawmakers have come forth and suggested how to deal with rogue officers. Instead, they have hidden behind big words and speeches on safety and understanding the delicate work of police. These lawmakers are cowards and pacifists as guilty as the officer who slays a 61-year-old man in his own home.
They say that justice is blind. A blindfolded woman holding a scale represents that saying. But maybe Lady Justice has been peeking from underneath her blindfold. Maybe her scale is a bit imbalanced in favor of reckless police and a faulty judicial system. Maybe she is biased, as she supports and justifies the lies of a system overly in need of a complete and total overhaul. Maybe Lady Justice is simply a myth, a lie told to pacify that masses as the masses pacify their children with falsities of a jolly man who delivers toys for Christmas.
In a way, Ruszczyk's death was meant to happen. It was written long before it took place. It was written by the courts, the prosecution, the police and the system as a whole. It was written into the law and absorbed by the wrongdoers. It will continue to be exercised years from now. It will never stop, not until the police are made to answer. The question is not if the police will unjustifiably take another life. The question is, when?