Why “Criminals” Should Have Rights, Part 12

When law enforcement behaves as if criminals have no rights, that also means civilians simply suspected of crimes see their rights disregarded, regardless of actual guilt or innocence.

Which results in Roy Middleton, searching through his mother’s car while it is parked in his own driveway, getting shot:

Within minutes, officers Jeremiah Meeks, Sgt. Matthew White and Charles Wright arrived on the scene.

Meeks and White ordered the 60-year-old man to show his hands, and when Middleton allegedly hesitated and made what was described as a lunging motion, they unleashed a barrage of 15 bullets, two of them striking the man in the legs.

The officers and their superior, Sheriff David Morgan, have maintained that the use of force in this case was proper because Middleton did not immediately comply with their orders and appeared to reach for a metal object.

As for the so-called “lunging” motion? Per Middleton:

He said he backed out of the vehicle with his hands raised, but when he turned to face the deputies, they immediately opened fire.

“It was like a firing squad,” he said. “Bullets were flying everywhere.”

The metal object in question? A key chain with a flashlight.

Were the cops justified?

Sheriff Morgan sided with his officers and sounded a defiant note amid the firestorm that has erupted in the media since the incident last month.

‘There was nothing glaringly apparent to us that the officers did that was out of the ordinary in the given set of circumstances as have been given to us,’ Morgan said in an interview with CNN.

An unarmed man on his own property, searching a vehicle parked on his property that belonged to his mother, and it is not “out of the ordinary” for officers to fire FIFTEEN gunshots at this man? Apparently what IS out of the ordinary, per Sheriff Morgan, is for his officers to do some corroborating:

“They should have asked me, did I live here? Ran my address or license plate or something,” he said.

When asked to respond to Middleton’s comment, Morgan said, “How long has Mr. Middleton been a law enforcement officer? It’s a car burglary in progress. You don’t roll up behind the car, expose yourself or your partner and wait for the tag to come back. The officers get out of the car … respond to the suspect. At this time Mr. Middleton was a suspect at that time.”

Sadly, Sheriff Morgan is correct: when we allow government to treat us as criminals with no rights, actions like this are nothing “out of the ordinary.”

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