CHICAGO – Chalk this near death experience up to the Ferguson effect. Originally, anti-police backlash following the legally justified use of deadly force against Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO was blamed for rising homicide rates in the inner cities of America as some in law enforcement backed off. But it can be expanded to include the degrading disrespect paid to law enforcement officers finding themselves in life or death circumstances. Due to hostile scrutiny, along with riotous behavior that has been tolerated, peace officers may hesitate or fail to take life saving measures when force is required against a non-compliant, black criminal offenders.
Fear of media attention and public scrutiny discouraged a 17-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department from using her firearm during a viscous attack, the city’s police chief confirmed Thursday. The police officer was savagely beaten at the scene of an auto collision by a suspect walking away from the crash.
The man was approached by three officers after seeing him walk away from a car that crashed into a building in the Austin community on the West Side Wednesday morning. When officers tried to talk to him about the crash, the man began struggling with them. That is when he hit the officer’s head against the pavement until she passed out, police said.
They were finally able to subdue and arrest the suspect using pepper spray and the Taser. All three officers were injured during the arrest, and taken to Lutheran General. The arrestee was treated at Loretto Hospital.
The suspect has three prior firearms arrests with one conviction. Charges from the latest incident are pending, police said.
The officer hesitated shooting the suspect since she feared a public backlash. She wanted to spare her family and department from scrutiny on national news the following day, according to Chicago’s top cop, Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
The 43-year-old Austin District police officer had been unconscious after the 28-year-old offender, who was involved in the auto accident, and reportedly high on narcotics, smashed her face into the pavement during the struggle.
Johnson visited the officer in the hospital. Her explanation was to the point. “She thought she was gonna die, and she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to because she didn’t want her family or the department to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news,” Johnson said this while attending a public ceremony honoring heroic officers and firefighters.
“This officer could [have] lost her life last night,” the superintendent said. “She’s hospitalized right now, but she still has the spirit and the bravery that these officers and firefighters display every day — every day. We have to change the narrative of the law enforcement across this country.”
When Johnson was asked whether the incident was an example of officers ‘laying back,’ he replied, “It’s an example of how dangerous this job is. And because of the scrutiny going on nationwide, there [are] officers second-guessing themselves. That’s what we don’t want.”
Johnson implied that during the incident, the officer had the legal right to use lethal force when he said, “I think it’s pretty apparent that it was a horrific incident. … Anytime you face a life-or-death situation, then you can use deadly force because that’s what he was trying to do to her.”
In an interview with Charlie de Mar of CBS 2 News, retired Chicago PD Officer Richard Wooten said, “No officer should be afraid to do their job when they know they are justified.”
Yet that is the problem. Officers know when lethal force is justified, but the false narrative that needs to be changed is the one spread by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and their proponents, that cops are targeting black males.
Breaking away from becoming “the next YouTube video” could be the reason police are second-guessing themselves and their actions. Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police said, “If you participate in a deadly force situation you can save your life, but in 2016, you can lose your job.”
The question was considered whether the Ferguson effect potentially cost the life of Sgt. Steven Owen last week. When Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell was asked whether the sergeant, may have tried to avoid shooting the black suspect, he said, “There was only the two of them there initially, so I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to answer what happened in that split-second.”
The Ferguson effect has been discounted by members of the media, activists, and liberal politicians that have one thing in common; none of them wear the uniform of a peace officer.