The President of Cleveland’s police union, Jeffrey Follmer, arrogantly calls Andrew Hawkins’ call for justice “pathetic” and doesn’t feel that Hawkins is entitled to an opinion on the police-shooting deaths of Kamir Rice and John Crawford III.
Ari Melber, of MSNBC, does some real reporting here! He starts by asking Follmer, “Why should he or anyone have to apologize for stating their sincere views on police conduct?”
Jeffrey Follmer responds, “First off he doesn’t have the clear view on the police conduct. He’s calling for justice on two officers that were called to do their job. They had a man that had a gun inside the park and they had to defend themselves and use deadly force on him.” He doubles down and adds, “It’s not a call for justice, they were justified.”
Ari Melber responds, “Okay, so you guys disagree on that. Why should he apologize to you? Why shouldn’t you apologize to him?”
Arrogantly and incredulously, Follmer responds with, “We’re not apologizing to anybody.” He adds, “Calling for justice on two of our officers… They need to do it to us. They’re disrespecting two of our officers on a job that we do hard, every day, and a job that two officers were put in a position to… uh… by a male’s actions.”
Follmer acts as if Hawkins has issued a hit on these officers rather than calling for a full investigation and, possibly, a trial. Follmer clearly sees police officers as above the law and unable to do any wrong. They are, after all, police officers.
Ari impresses me with his next line of questioning. “In a statement you talk about providing serving and providing security for the stadium. How is that relevant?”
Follmer blabbers about how they provide security for the team and that they should command respect for doing the job that they are paid to do.
Ari Melber asks again, “Are you implying that’s relevant somehow? Are you implying that security would change because of this disagreement?”
“We wouldn’t change,” Follmer chokes out, and then he finally acknowledges–after fumbling with his ear piece (what was the person on the other end saying to him?) that their salaries are paid with tax payer dollars and that is who they are really supposed to be serving. “We are here for the community, for the people that go to the Browns games, we’re here for the public.”
Ari Melber impresses me further, “And when you say, as we read your statement, that he doesn’t know the facts of the law, how do you apply that logic? Wouldn’t that apply to any citizen who may not be a police expert, but has some legitimate view of police conduct? I mean, don’t you think at a certain point that this kind of reaction risks feeding the perception that some of these police unions, or some folks here don’t think they’re accountable to public views?”
Follmer, unbelievably, doubles down again and refers back to the video of the officer shooting 12 year old Tamir Rice, with a toy gun, within 1.5 seconds of arriving on the scene. He says that the video speaks for itself, and justifies the use of deadly force.
Ari Melber states the facts, “Well ultimately that isn’t your call, is it? Or an athlete’s call. That’s a call that has to go through the criminal justice system.” He adds, “I guess what I’m trying to get at here, and the reason why they have upset some people, is that your statements seem to presuppose that the police union or the police officers have the final word on the facts here. You know that’s not true. You know we have a system here of criminal justice that leaves that decision up to grand juries and the criminal justice process, right? And people are free to talk about it.”
Follmer dodges the question and keeps saying that Hawkins is wrong because the police provide security for the stadium. He keeps doubling down, circling back and repeating himself.
Melber goes back to Hawkins heartfelt response to the request for an apology and he asks Follmer, “Did your heart go out to people worried about their children going out, unarmed, and losing their lives in these kind of incidents?”
Unbelievably, Follmer responds, “It depends on what you are saying is ‘unarmed’.. this male… he was obviously… he wasn’t unarmed. He had what they thought to be a gun. And they also thought him to be 20 years old. If he’s 20 years old we’re not sitting here today.”
So he is saying that a) it’s okay to kill a child because you “thought” he had a gun–even though the 911 caller clearly stated that he thought the gun was a toy but he had called it because the kid was scaring people because they weren’t sure if the gun was real or toy– and b) it’s okay to shoot a 20 year old. Am I losing my mind???
Ari Melber asks him one last question, “What do you think about the concern people have that folks are being killed in some cases by officers when there is less than a lethal threat being posed?”
Follmer, should there be any doubt, solidifies that he is an arrogant asshole with contempt and an abundance of disrespect for the public that he “serves” responding with, “How about this? How about you listen to police officers commands, listen to what they tell us… we tell you… and just stop. I think that eliminates a lot of problem. I have kids too. They know how to respect the law, they know how… they know what to do when a police officer comes up to them. I think the nation needs to realize when we tell you to do something, do it. And if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And if you’re right, we’ll figure it out.”
And there you have it. Judge, jury and most of all, executioner.