December 5, 2013

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Life on the mean streets with Officer Alex

America's youth have a new obsession that, for once, doesn't involve producing their boxer shorts in great abundance or bending over and shaking that ass in uncomfortable proximity to the crotch of another or towards a camera. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

While I'm trying not to make it the actual topic of this column, I'm referring to the new American pastime known as the "knockout game."

The goal is obvious: To knock someone out with a single punch, someone obviously not expecting this to occur, and consequences be damned. It establishes the masculinity of the one doing the punching and results in many high-fives, as well as the occasional death of the unsuspecting subject of the punch.

For me, accidentally killing someone is where things stop being funny, but at least four deaths have been attributed to this pastime in the last year. And that doesn't touch on the ones still in medically induced coma's for suffering injuries in their limp and unpredicted falls to the ground which, as most of us can relate, consist of hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete. I'm sure someone will blame the victims for not walking on mattresses or on trampolines, but that logic is the subject of another story. Or is it?

While this is certainly a step above Tipper Gore's old battle cry of listening to raunchy music lyrics in the 80's and Hillary Clinton's issues with violent video games, it's not the pastime itself that has me speaking to you here in the form of a public service announcement, but an illustration to explain why deadly force is occasionally employed against those who are unarmed. (I know, right?)

Last year, a teenager punched a man out. Knocked him backward onto the concrete, then straddled him and beat him severely. The victim never regained consciousness and died nine days later.

Clearly this echoes the Trayvon Martin incident, but we all know how that actually ended because young Trayvon could never have done something like that. He wore a hoodie and was straddling someone and beating their head onto the concrete, and he was shot for it therefore making him the victim.

In this instance, the 29-year-old was an El Paso police officer as well as a Marine Corps veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He was off-duty and unarmed (a crucial difference here), and a 17-year-old popped him in the face when confronted about having scratched the off-duty officers car. The officer fell back and struck his head on the concrete. The young man then straddled him and began beating his head further into the ground. He died nine days later from injuries to his head.

While the circumstances were by no means identical (including the fact that George Zimmerman is a complete moron, but based on the evidence in the Martin case he was still the victim receiving the beating no matter what prompted the exchange), it shows why unarmed people are occasionally shot despite only being armed with a fist.

In our line of work, something people have a hard time accepting is why we use force before the other guy (or girl) does in rare instances.  People view fights based on their knowledge of boxing; a sport that has rules and even requires licensure.

When cops fight, it isn’t in a ring, and they aren't intended to be fair.  They are intended to either be avoided, prevented, or won…in advance if possible. There's a difference.  We know that you can be knocked out with a single punch (therefore making our gun belts an open market for the person still conscious) and so we cut to the chase and in the process, offend folks sensibilities.  While that makes me sad, well…I deal with the sadness so I can go to the next call.

One hit can make a difference. These instances (like Zimmerman's) are often judged by people who have never been in a fight, much less a gunfight, but there are things you simply can't learn from television or never having experienced them for yourselves, as difficult as this may be to believe. 

Google the phenomena and see businesswomen, schoolteachers, and an assortment of other people knocked completely unconscious before they hit the ground for no other reason than the sheer entertainment of doing so, and usually on video. Cops are generally comprised of humans which means they can be knocked out too, and this is why we react the way we do to the threat of such.

I do truly hope this inspires thought, but if not?  Here’s looking forward to your hate mail.  Hugs.

December 5, 2013

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