Is someone's criminal record really relevant in these cases?

You know when you turn on the TV and hear about a cop shooting and killing a civilian? Like at least once a week?

And you can be damn sure that in the next 24 hours you'll hear that the person who was killed had some sort of record, whether it be 12 drug charges or a silly misdemeanor from 2004?

How relevant do you think that is to the question at hand, which is, was that officer justified in shooting that civilian?

Obviously, what the civilian was doing at the time of the shooting is extremely relevant. But what about the years prior?

The reason I'm asking isn't just cause the media brings it up, its because people like my father think that a persons criminal record pretty much justifies their murder at the hands of law enforcement, regardless of the situation.

Now I don't have all the facts about Cleveland, and ***I DO NOT WANT TO OPEN DEBATE ABOUT IT OR FERGUSON OR BALTIMORE*** but from the info I have I believe that the officer should have at least gotten manslaughter (disagree if you want) but today my dad comes into the kitchen to tell me its okay that the officer got off because the couple "had a criminal past" and they were speeding and couldn't killed someone.

Unfortunately my dad isn't the only one to think this way. Many people even on here said maybe Eric Garner wouldn't have been killed if he hadn't been illegally selling cigarettes but WHAT THE SHIT?

Breaking the law ****DOES NOT**** give anyone the right to murder you, unless of course you're threatening another life.

What do you think?
If an unarmed man tomorrow gets shot and killed by a cop in your city and it was discovered that the officer used unnecessary force, would that young man's criminal past justify his death?

(I'm fully prepared to be called a fucking idiot by a lot of you. )

  • criminal records are relevant to the question
    29% (2)44% (4)38% (6)Vote
  • not relevant
    71% (5)56% (5)62% (10)Vote
  • I don't have an opinion because I don't care that every week a new person is slain by law enforcement
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And you are? I'm a GirlI'm a Guy

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Most Helpful Guy

  • Since criminal records are not relevant in court proceedings to determine guild or innocence (they are relevant to sentencing, however) I cannot see how they should be considered in cases where the Police reacted with deadly violence.

    Besides, did the police know the record of the victims before they shot? I doubt it.

    I think the Cleveland prosecutor is under serving his community by not bringing charges against all 13 officers involved. I mean, they killed two people because their car backfired. Where is the justification in that?

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What Guys Said 6

  • The rules of evidence applicable in most states say that the criminal record of the victim is not admissible in a trial of the killer. That does not prevent the media from talking about the victim's criminal record. The victim's record does not prove that he deserved to die on that particular occasion. However, the usual scenario is that the victim's family claims that he was a good kid who never got into serious trouble. The majority of the media does not take a neutral stance but tries to convince the public that this was a bad shooting. The victim's record then becomes relevant, at least in the court of public opinion, to counter the fiction that the victim was an innocent little child gunned down by brutal police.

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  • No, unnecessary force would not be justified by the person's criminal record.

    But, in deciding whether force was unnecessary or not, one should definitely take into account a criminal record. The fact that someone is unarmed doesn't necessarily make a killing by a police officer unjustified, though that too should be taken into account. Police officers are not sacrificial animals. You would take into account past behaviour in determining the threat that someone poses, and you would be right to do so. Police should do the same.

    As for the Eric Garner case specifically, selling tobacco is a non-violent act. Garner had the right to do it therefore, and he had the right to resist the attempt by the police to stop him. There should be no regulations on selling tobacco. What he did should have been legal. But, almost everyone disagrees with me. And what the idiotic protesters didn't understand is that every law is ultimately backed up by the threat of death. If you're not willing to kill to enforce a law, you don't really want that particular law.

    Eric Garner should not be confused with, for example, Michael Brown. Garner was a victim of violence. Brown was a perpetrator of the violence that ended in his own death. The police officer in the Brown case was utterly justified in killing him. It shows utter disrespect to the victims of violence, including the black victims of violence, for these race-baiters to imply that all black people are the same.

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    • I agree with all of this, especially this:

      "Eric Garner should not be confused with, for example, Michael Brown. Garner was a victim of violence. Brown was a perpetrator of the violence that ended in his own death."

  • I don't care at all about their prior records. The only thing that matters is the individual situation that leads up to the shooting.

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  • It's relevant, but only in a small way. It's something to consider. For instance, if you had a party at your house. Some of your most valuable things went missing, it was a small party and you knew everyone. All of the people there but one had no criminal record, the one that had a criminal record had a pretty extensive one, but it didn't include theft. Who's going to be your number one suspect?

    That kind of "evidence" for lack of a better word, is not something that's going to make or break the case, but it's something worth noting. It doesn't mean that guy did it, but it's definitely a red flag.

    Of course, no, it is not relevant In any court except the court of public opinion.

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    • I agree with that, but I don't think it should have any influence on the verdict.

    • Right, really it shouldn't because it's not related to the case.

      I don't like how the Brown, Scott, Green, Martin, and Garner cases are being thrown together as if they are not each unique situations that are truly unrelated They should be considered on their own merits and one should not affect the other.

      I think about half of them are truly cases of police brutality, the other half are media hype and storytelling. This is dangerous because it hinders officers ability to do their job and stay safe.

      This is not a new problem mind you, and it's not something that has really accelerated in recent years either. It certainly doesn't only affect blacks, more whites are killed by cops than blacks, of course there's more whites total in the country so we should definitely keep that in mind. It's not just white cops either, black cops have done it and were even involved in some of these cases I mentioned. It's a human problem and usually comes down to poor judgement, not racism

    • I agree with you. I think our society has stopped looking at them as individual cases but all as the same, which is causing even more problems.

  • Naivete is a beautiful thing. Keep that innocence and false sense of Justice.

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    • That never ceases to amaze me- the assumption that people that disagree with you are just naive, as if all opinions that oppose yours are born out of ignorance or naivete, no way an intelligent person can disagree with you.

      Maybe I didn't word my question right so I'll copy and paste what I said to an anon: "But could it make you change your mind about what the verdict should be?"

    • Oh you're naive for a different reason; who even said I disagree with you?

    • Enlighten me.

What Girls Said 5

  • Having a badge isn't a license to kill even though we seem to think it is these days. Open any article and the comments will make you want to vomit. Things such as "all they did was take more scum off the street"

    Man, anyone who thinks like that who thinks we are friends... go fuck yourself. We are not.

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  • It's irrelevant, because the cop likely didn't know, therefore his decision to shoot someone who was unarmed was influenced by other factors. No one deserves to be murdered simply because they have a criminal past.

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  • Irrelevant, because at the time he got shot to death, the police officer had no idea about his past.

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  • Not relevant. Unless they're a cop killer or known to take shots at cops or something. But really, 99.9 of people killed by them aren't.
    Plus cops shoot just because somebody runs away these days. Like how about get the fuck up off they lazy ass and chase like any normal cop has done in the past. Shoot because they ran smh... shooting should only ever be used to stop a deadly threat, not because they have eaten too many donuts and can't be bothered to move their fat ass and run for once.

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  • They are relevant.

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