This story about the police beating death of a schizophrenic man drew an enormous amount of traffic to my site when I posted it--much more, in fact, than any other case of police violence I've covered. Although the number of visits to the post fell from thousands in the first couple of weeks, it has sustained quite a bit of traffic right up to today. Clearly, this particular incident really got to people, perhaps because the man was sick, and the beating was so violent, continuing even after the young man's heart-wrenching cries for 'Dad' stopped as he fell unconscious. And I imagine that the photo showing the gruesome injuries he sustained was also deeply affecting for those who saw it.
I was pretty evenhanded in characterizing the cops in my initial post, but I found the merciless, savagery exhibited by those police officers to be thoroughly disgusting. It was blind, mad rage unleashed. And even if a couple of officers lost control in an escalating situation, the others who were present failed in their moral duty--their duty as civilized human beings--to put a stop to the beating.
What those officers did is the worst nightmare of a parent with a mentally ill or challenged child. We expect the police to protect our most vulnerable citizens, not kill them.
I return to this story today to report that two of the cops involved have been indicted. One of the officers was charged with felony use of excessive force, the other with involuntary manslaughter.
These are very serious charges, but I do wonder if the charges would have been even more serious had these men been civilians. It seems to me that mob beatings resulting in death often get everyone who got a lick in charged with murder. And the perpetrators often draw charges of first degree murder, even if it isn't clear that their intent was murder.
For example, this week a man who beat and robbed a partially disabled, local man of $10, was charged with first degree murder because the victim died later of his injuries.