Letter: Wanting a less violent society
To the editor:
My note expresses the disappointment with the decision rendered by the Dakota County Attorney Office in the OIS. This is not an indictment of the officer in the shooting death of Mr. Keagan Lloyd-Johnson, rather, to ask "How did we get here," and implore an examination of both our criminal justice system and community. I admit that I have the extreme privilege of playing a Monday morning quarterback. Shouldn't we all?
The DCAO's decision offers no moral or pragmatic path to the Hastings Police Department or society for reducing violence. At its best, it promotes a moral vacuum. At its worst, it condones violence. It sanitizes the actions of the DCAO and that of HPD, but stains this community with Mr. Lloyd-Johnson's blood.
Moreover, I am horrified at the language used by the (DCAO) "Justified Killing" to exonerate the officer who killed Mr. Keagan Lloyd-Johnson. That language may ring true to those in lock step with a more militaristic approach to law enforcement, but it rings hollow with me. The language used misses the moral tone this community must hear.
In his book, "The Empathy Instinct: How to Create a More Civil Society," Peter Bazalgette talks about the "empathy deficit."
"The ability to put ourselves in somebody else's shoes, to see the world through somebody else's eyes."
The Hastings community desperately needs an empathic approach. Certainly, Mr. Lloyd-Johnson family needed to hear that voice. Sadly, the DCAO committed a moral misfeasance in its legal decision by condoning an "immoral killing."
The purpose of law enforcement is to enforce the law and to protect the public. The intrinsic objective of that protection is to reduce violence. Reduction in violence is a goal for all members of society. That includes the actions and behaviors of police officers.
Every officer takes a sworn oath to protect and serve. This oath is a moral and legal obligation. They agree to put their life is harm's way. It is indefensible to use "I was in fear of my life" as justification to use deadly force.
A social imperative is to obey the law. Our laws protect citizens and policemen from harm and the misuse of laws against citizen, particularly children, and even those with mental health challenges like Mr. Lloyd-Johnson.
What we will never know is "did Mr. Johnson understand and have the mental capacity to carry out the orders of the apprehending officers?" Victim blaming by using the term "Suicide by cop" fails to absolve the department's actions.
Mr. Lloyd-Johnson was known to have mental health challenges and suffered from some addiction issues. Given this knowledge shouldn't we expect the HPD and its officer to understand this in conducting their duties? Given the aforementioned supposition, shouldn't we have a reasonable expectation of a different outcome? A reduction in violence is the goal.