Contra the Opinion of Utahns Against Police Brutality, Cop Killer Jose Angel Garcia Jauregui is Not a Victim of Such Brutality
By Ken K. Gourdin
The group Utahns Against Police Brutality was formed in the wake of high-profile incidents involving police use of force. Jose Angel Garcia Jauregui was shot and killed by police after he shot Utah County Sheriff Sergeant Cory Wride and Deputy Greg Sherwood, killing the former and gravely wounding the latter. In a recent rally sponsored by the group, Mr. Garcia was memorialized as “a victim of police brutality.”
Examining the logic underlying the group’s contention that Mr. Garcia was a victim of police brutality in a letter to the editor published March 10, 2016 in The Deseret News, I pointed out that if, indeed, that is true, that means that officers cannot and should not shoot back, even when they are under fire themselves; I pointed out that if, indeed, police cannot and should not shoot back even when they, themselves are under fire, that makes not only officers but all of us less safe; and I pointed out that calling Mr. Garcia a “victim of police brutality” cheapens the sacrifices of Deputy Sherwood, Sergeant Wride, and every other officer who has been hurt or killed in the line of duty. For my letter to the editor see here (last accessed March 30, 2016):
In on-line comments responding to my letter, one of my interlocutors implored me to “wait for an investigation” to be concluded before passing judgment. I responded:
I agree with your general contention that judgment should be withheld until all of the rel[e]vant facts are in, nor am I naive enough to believe that police brutality never occurs. That said, there is absolutely no disputing the fact that the shooting of Mr. Garcia is NOT [sic] a case of police brutality: He had already shot and killed one officer and shot and wounded another before he, himself, was shot and killed. With due respect, it appears that the only person on this thread who is unfamiliar with those relevant facts is you.
Another of my interlocutors opined that the alleged dangers faced by law enforcement often are overstated, that police often overreact to situations they face, and that officers ought to receive more deescalation training. With excerpts from this commenter in quotation marks, my responses follow the quoted material:
“Put in perspective a taxi driver or convenience store clerk is more likely to be shot at their job than a cop. [sic]” Even if true, that seems rather cold comfort to Nanette Wride and others who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.
“Due to the fear they feel in working with the public they [police] over-react to many situations.” Granting that proposition as true for the sake of this discussion (although I think it’s highly debatable), I’m unsure how police overreacted by shooting Mr. Garcia, since he’d already shot and killed one of their colleagues and had shot and wounded another.
“The public would be better served if officers would develop, and be trained in more de-escalation tactics.” De-escalation tactics are important, but I don’t see how they would have helped in this case. Mr. Garcia seemed determined to kill or to harm police officers no matter what: Sgt. Wride had stopped to help him.
I’m not naive enough to believe that police brutality never occurs. If procedures used in law enforcement training, investigation of use-of-force incidents, and (where necessary) prosecution of officers who engage in brutality or other impermissible conduct can be improved, let’s have a robust dialogue about how to do that.
Holding cop-killers such as Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui up as alleged “victims of police brutality,” however, does nothing to further those aims.