By now you likely have heard about the murders of New York Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
The men were shot at point blank range while sitting in their patrol cars.
The New York Times reports gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot the officers in the head and upper body and then killed himself. He is also believed to have shot and injured his ex-girlfriend earlier. Brinsley had ranted on social media that he wanted to kill police officers and was upset about the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Liu had just gotten married two months ago. He was a seven-year veteran of the force. He didn’t stand a chance in the shooting. It happened so quickly, Liu & Ramos had no time to draw their weapons.
The New York Post reports both men were working overtime on an anti-terrorism drill when they were killed.
Ramos is survived by a wife and 13-year old son. He has been with the department since 2012. Funeral services for the officers have not yet been announced.
The double murders are a reminder of just how dangerous police work can be. The killings also have the unfortunate potential of intensifying the tensions between police officers and the thousands of protestors nationwide in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The police union has accused of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio of sending out wrong signals about police officers in the wake of the grand jury decision not to issue an indictment in the Garner case.
Officers were seen turning their backs on the Mayor at the hospital where the officers were pronounced dead.
Their deaths while tragic don’t minimize the significance of the issues brought out in the Garner and Brown cases.
Police officers risk their lives every day protecting each and everyone of us. Any discussion about police abuse of power must be balanced with an acknowledgment that officers serve an important function and most do it well.
At the same time, they are sworn to protect & serve and must be held to high standards of their oath.
The deaths of Liu and Ramos hopefully will lead to less rhetoric and more substantial discussions about police abuse of power, the high crime rate in many inner cities, the relationship between poverty and crime, black on black crime, and the important role police play in our daily lives.