Dear Senator Warren:
I am writing on behalf of the hard-working police officers of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, who are tired of being targeted as murderers and racists by you and other candidates for higher office. This has got to stop. You and others who carelessly use terms like “murder” are contributing to a situation in which the lives of the men and women I represent are being threatened.
Your recent reference to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as a “murder” was inaccurate and calculated to inflame those who wish us harm. Ferguson Police Officer Wilson was never indicted, charged or convicted in the death of Mr. Brown. There was no murder, as the Department of Justice concluded, because there was no crime. Wilson acted in self-defense and as a reasonable police officer.
The facts revealed by the DOJ review indicated that: (1) Michael Brown was a suspect in a robbery; (2) Officer Wilson was aware of the robbery and identified Mr. Brown as fitting the description of the suspect; (3) Brown assaulted Officer Wilson and attempted to take his firearm; (4) Wilson only fired after Brown, who had been running away, turned and began to charge at Wilson. Furthermore, the DOJ report essentially debunked the myth that Brown was on his knees or had his hands up when he was shot. In other words, the DOJ concluded, the shooting resulted from Officer Wilson’s reactions to what he reasonably perceived were Brown’s threatening and dangerous actions, including his attempt to arm himself with the officer’s weapon. See generally Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).
Mischaracterizing the death of Michael Brown as a murder ignores the legal principles underlying the criminal code, as well as the documented conclusions of the DOJ report. More importantly, however, it also plays into the hands of those who would do harm to law enforcement. Your words fan the flames of anti-police violence by contributing to the inaccurate and dangerous stereotype that police officers are racists who seek to kill unarmed black people. This kind of rhetoric gives license to a mindset in which the police are the enemy and encourages violence against law enforcement officers.
Words matter. I urge you to reconsider your words regarding this case and what this indicates as your closeminded attitude towards law enforcement. It is critical that someone who so many people in this Country are listening to chooses your words carefully and instead of tweeting sound bites you should “make a plan” for how to bring people together rather than to divide the police from the citizens who we serve and protect and for whom we risk our lives every day. As the candidate with the plans, I challenge you to come up with a constructive plan on how to bring people together rather than to further divide us. You should set an example for our citizens and show respect and appreciation for the service of the public servants who protect the citizens of this Commonwealth and this country.
Michael F. Leary