It’s been just over a week since 18-year-old unarmed teen, Mike Brown, was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. Brown’s story has triggered daily and nightly protests in the city, but the issue isn’t just racial.
Yes, Brown was Black teen, shot by 28-year-old Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, a White officer, although the exact actions that led to the killing are unclear. Witnesses say the teen surrendered only to be shot by the officer. A preliminary autopsy shows that Wilson hit Brown six times, shooting one final and fatal bullet into his head.
There is still a long process ahead, however. The incident is being investigated by both local and federal authorities, and the Justice Department will be conducting an additional autopsy on Brown’s body.
While Wilson remains on paid administrative leave, which is common protocol for police-involved shootings, one father can relate to the loss that Brown’s parents are experiencing. Michael Bell’s 21-year-old son, also named Michael, was shot dead by a cop outside of his home 10 years ago.
Bell, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, says that he “cautioned patience”throughout the process, yet within 48 hours, the shooting officers was cleared of wrongdoing. It was claimed that the shooting victim reached for his gun, yet no fingerprints or DNA evidence were found to corroborate that story.
Six years later, Bell and his family were awarded a $1.75 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. He used his portion of the money to continue campaigning for more “police accountability” in Wisconsin, but when his voice wasn’t heard (he contacted Oprah, the Associated Press, and more), Bell launched a website with the help of a former New York police detective. He also placed the ad, “When police take a life, should they investigate themselves?” in various national newspapers.
Earlier this year Wisconsin passed a law requiring police shootings to be investigated by outside agencies, becoming the first state in the nation to do so. Bell maintains that he’s not “anti-police,” and he’s not alone. Some Wisconsin officers and police unions supported the legislation.
Source: Politico Magazine