Those of you who are NFL fans are well aware of the national anthem protests that have occurred over the past 2 seasons. Even if you don’t follow professional football, you’ve probably heard about the protests if you listen to or read the news once in a while. These protests seemed to demonstrate the growing rift between American law enforcement and American citizens who are concerned about deteriorating personal liberty. This past Sunday, Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott returned from a 6-game suspension, but it was too late to save the Cowboys’ season. The suspension should serve as a reminder of a clear distinction between government agencies and private entities, which in this case are represented by the NFL and police departments around the US.
He said, she said: After his remarkable first NFL season, Elliott was accused of physical abuse by his then-girlfriend during the offseason. Ms. Thompson, a young lady who seemed to leave little to the imagination when posting pictures on social media, seemingly gave such an inconsistent story to prosecutors that they didn’t even pursue the case against her celebrity ex-boyfriend. The case was further complicated when it was revealed that Ms. Thompson had teased Elliott about having sex with his teammate, Lucky Whitehead while he was in middle of his rookie season. Make no mistake; promiscuity does not justify violence, but that sort of behavior coupled with her inconsistent story about the abuse makes her less than trustworthy. Elliott certainly may be an abuser like fellow NFL running back Ray Rice – who was banned from the NFL for life – but all that exists at present are inconsistent allegations by a promiscuous and vengeful ex-girlfriend that even prosecutors wouldn’t believe. Regardless, the NFL maintained that the superstar running back violated the CBA/contract and therefore was suspended for 6 games. After a complex and tedious series of maneuvers through the federal courts, a judge ruled that the punishment would remain, and so the six week suspension took effect after week 9. This punishment ruined his and his team’s season, causing the Cowboys to miss the playoffs. As a former football player, I understand the severity of that punishment, both to a player and to a team.
Bottom line: The NFL is a private organization that has a collective bargaining agreement with its players, and therefore can hold them accountable to that contract and punish them accordingly.
How are police officers punished? On January 18th, 2016, a man checked into a hotel on a business trip as a pest-control worker. Mr. Shaver met a man and a woman in the hotel, and then invited them into his room to have some Bacardi Rum. Noticing what seemed like a rifle/guitar case in the corner of the room while drinking, one of the guests asked him whether he played an instrument. Shaver responded by opening the case to reveal a pellet gun (similar to a BB gun) and explained to them that he uses it to kill small animals for businesses that have pest problems. Concerned guests staying at the hotel were reportedly in the hot tub on the hotels ground floor when they looked up and noticed Shaver holding the pellet rifle through the window, causing them to call 911. A call from his wife took the male guest out of the room, and shortly after, Shaver received a call on his hotel room phone, during which he was instructed to exit his room as per a police request. Since the Mesa police officers likely heard/read the words “…possible gun…” when dispatched to the hotel, the 8 police officers responded with their AR-15 loaded and pointed at innocent Americans, planning to kill them. This seems to be how police generally respond when dispatched to any call where the ‘G’ word is possibly involved. Having been dispatched by emergency dispatchers for a living since 2011, I could stress how rare it is that any call actually turns out to be what the dispatcher describes in the initial dispatch. When dispatched for ‘chest pain’ or a ‘heart attack’, I don’t activate the cath lab or administer cardiac medications immediately. I calmly respond and I assess the patient and investigate the case, just like I have done for every single call of my career. I understand that the only information we should really trust from dispatch is the address and possibly some things to look out for as we approach the scene. (active fire, active shooter, HazMat, etc.) According to court documents, the woman who walked out of the room with Shaver recalls seeing 8 cops with their AR-15’s aimed at the 2 confused and tipsy travelers. The video (which the corrupt judge would not allow the jury to watch in its entirety) clearly demonstrates that the cops responded with the intent of killing the people in that room. The cops nastily shouted conflicting and inappropriate orders at the two – many analysts who normally support police referred to the orders as a demented game of ‘Simon Says’. Shaver, who was wearing basketball shorts, seemed to try his best to follow the ridiculous commands while tipsy and with an entire SWAT team with their fingers on their triggers, itching to find an excuse to kill him. After being ordered to lie down as part of the ‘Simon Says’ game and then to get on his knees with his hands up, he was ordered to crawl to the officers (murderers often humiliate their victims in sadistic ways before killing them). Like all humans, Shaver understood ‘crawl’ to mean ‘use all 4 limbs to move’. The violent and possibly deranged officer, however, wanted Shaver to remain on his knees only and waddle towards the officers with his hands remaining extended upwards. The crying, unarmed father of two crawled on all fours towards the officers, who did not clarify their asinine orders. After a few slow crawling movements, Shaver’s loose shorts began to fall. Instinctively, he reached his right hand towards his waistline to pull them up, as to maintain a shred of dignity during the ordeal. Finally having justification, Brailsford stopped restraining himself and opened fire on Shaver, firing 5 shots with the high-powered AR-15 in a hotel hallway, killing Shaver. Shaver was unarmed.
It gets worse: Two years later, the judge (a government employee, just like the police officer) prohibited the jury from seeing the cop’s gun. Brailsford had customized his gun’s dust cover with the big bold letters that read “You’re Fucked”, which further proves the obvious reality that he was a violent sociopath who was eager to kill.
Hearing testimony that was heavily biased in favor of officer Brailsford, the jury ruled that the officer was not guilty of murder, or any other crime at all. Immediately after the decision last month, the judge allowed for the footage to be released, which caused the ensuing shock by the American citizenry.
Brailsford received no punishment for this despicable and senseless killing. Even worse, the cop could not be punished after he was ruled not guilty, because he could never even be on trial for it again, due to the ‘double jeopardy’ clause of the 5th amendment. Ironically, he was fired a few months later for other violations of police procedure. The fact remains that he was never punished for murder, despite their being video evidence of it. The fact that Daniel Shaver’s wife lost her husband and his kids will grow up without a father also remains unchanged. The facts of the case are outlined here and on infinite pages all across the internet.
Why compare Brailsford to Elliott?
In the case of Ezekiel Elliott, his organization was able to punish him, despite extremely weak evidence alleging that he hurt a person a year prior. They were able to discipline him because the NFL is a private organization with a contract, and because private companies are ultimately accountable to their customers. The murderer/cop, on the other hand, works for the government. Government, by its very essence is not accountable, meaning that they never really have to punish themselves or their own employees. They can’t lose TV ratings and they can’t lose money, so they have no reason to ever do their jobs well. How can we make government agencies and employees more accountable?