Here’s a hypothetical exercise for you.
You don’t live in the best of neighborhoods. You’re sitting in your home one night and you hear gunshots in your neighborhood. You grab your handgun and go outside to see if you can figure out what’s happening. After a minute or two, you see a man in a hoodie with his hands in his pockets.
You call out to him that you’re a concerned citizen and want to know if he knows anything about the gunshots that just went off. Instead of stopping and answering your question, he jumps into his car. Since he parked his car in the direction you’re coming from, he passes by you as he speeds away. In response, you fire your gun into his car, landing hits in his head, neck, and leg.
Was it reasonable for you to shoot the man? Were you justified?
You later find out that the man you shot was a pizza deliveryman making a delivery. He didn’t stop when you called because he knew he was in a sketchy area where robberies of pizza deliverymen are common.
Would you still be comfortable with your decision to shoot?
This is exactly what happened last night to Philippe Holland of Upper Darby, PA. No, he didn’t shoot an innocent pizza deliveryman—he was the innocent pizza deliveryman who was shot. Plainclothes police officers approached Holland after hearing gunshots in the West Philadelphia neighborhood. They identified themselves as police officers and ordered him to stop and show his hands. He didn’t because according to the article, violent crimes against pizza deliverymen are “not uncommon”. He justifiably felt that he was in danger, so he tried to get away. And so they shot him.
Holland is currently in critical condition.
Holland was unarmed. He has no criminal record. He was trying to earn a living. And now by no fault of his own is in a hospital in very bad shape. Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey said, “Streets where there are too many guns and too much crime helped set up this tragedy.”
How callous. I’m not accusing Ramsey of sending his men out to shoot innocent people, but what set this up is a mentality where the police are given special privilege to shoot people without the same accountability expected of anyone else. They said that they’re investigating it. Okay, so what happens if they determine the officers acted wrongly? Will they go to prison? Will they personally pay restitution to the victim or his family?
Philippe Holland will spend the night fighting for his life. How many police officers out there will fall asleep tonight thinking, “They were doing their job…I would have done the same thing.”