A Thin Line

The article describes the circumstances of the death of  Israel Leija Jr and the proceeding lawsuit which was lost by his family. The article is written by Pete Williams former government communicator of the year and assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Mr. Williams is also a Stanford graduate and a respected journalist. He states Israel Leija Jr started to flee from police after a policeman approached Mr. Leija’s vehicle to warn him about warrants issued.  Leija immediately sped away and began an eighteen minute car chase. Leija called police multiple times claiming he would shoot if the chase was not stopped. Police had the idea to set up tire spikes at three spots on the interstate. Then Trooper Chadrin Mullenix of the Texas Department of Public Safety got the idea of trying to stop the car by shooting at it. He radioed for approval from his supervisor, who told him to stand by to see if the tire spikes worked first. Mullenix got out of his patrol car, took a position on the overpass, and fired six shots at Leija’s car. After hitting the tire spikes, Leija’s car rolled two and a half times. Authorities later determined that Leija was killed by Trooper Mullenix’s shots, four of which hit him in the upper body.  In November, the supreme court tossed the case against Mullenix.  There has been growing animosity between the people and the police department throughout the United States. More and more officers are being videoed and convicted by the media for police brutality. If the problems continue america could be heading towards a setback and potential civil war.

Later in the article Pete Williams quotes justice Sonia Sotomayor saying the ruling endorses a “shoot first, think later” approach to policing. There is a thin line between police brutality and proper policing. The line is being crossed too many times according to the public’s frustration. Policemen are knowingly crossing the line and disobeying protocol and orders. Mullenix was told to be on standby until after the car had crossed the spikes.  Mullenix, on his own, decided to shoot what he referred to as “Six shots in the dark” at the vehicle.  The problem is not only did Mullenix disobey orders but he also could have harmed any near bystanders with his shots. Mullenix was wrong in the situation but was rewarded with a innocent verdict for killing a man. The court also made this decision based solely off of written documents. There was never any oral arguments therefore leaving the american people to believe the court thought the case was clear cut. I do not believe in every case all policemen are guilty of brutality. In fact, I believe more times than not policemen are wrongly accused by media of brutality. The public uses only a small portion knowledge they have on the situation without waiting to find more details before making judgements. The public’s ignorance causes good policemen to lose their jobs and potentially  wrongfully go to jail. Although I am in support of the police I do believe when policemen disobey orders and murders another human they should be held responsible for their actions. We, as a society, must begin to demand for better police treated and also understand that one officer’s actions does not reflect  on every policeman.

For a successful democracy the people must be able to work along side of the government. The reason a democracy will work is because the people do not fear the government but trusts the government. The discourse and hostility between the people and the government will cause our country towards war and mayhem. We need the police and government to ensure none of our constitutional rights are violated.  Expectations and protocol must be met and followed by the police we trust to protect us but as people we must allow policemen to do their jobs without hostility towards them.


About SaintsGOV16
We are students in Dr. Ostroff's sections of U.S. Government at All Saints' Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas. (www.aseschool.org).

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