by Emmett Smith
THE Following links are to a series of reports earlier this year in the Mankato Free Press.
THEY Are about the wounding of two police officers and the shooting to death of an emotionally distraught rural Blue Earth County man, last Winter.
THE Reports cited here are NOT a comprehensive list, as the case drags on. The local bench attempted to dragoon the primary news-reporter’s telephone-notes of a direct conversation with the man killed by the police, and the process of appeal and counter-appeal under the “newspaper shield law” oozes along at this time.
WHAT Is important to keep in mind — on this point I follow the insights of Hungarian-American historian-emeritus, John Lukacs — is the critical distinction between “public opinion” and popular opinion:
RIGHT Now, public opinion on the editorial pages is all about press freedom, and no one presumes to second guess the importance of THAT!
BUT, Popular opinion has it meanwhile that Mr Skjervold’s brother-in-law negotiated a surrender to the baffled police, and that Mr Skjervold was then ambushed in the dark at the corner of his house by an individual officer wielding a Taser. Some speculate that this officer was enraged at having been dragged out on a holiday night, in a huge multi-agency multi-county operation.
TO Me, personally, it is obvious that the police went overboard in a domestic intervention which to be sure did involve earlier shooting — Mr Skjervold had shot out the tires of his own vehicle, in an emotional state of upset with his partner.
NOT Unreasonably, she was frightened and called for help — equally, it is not unreasonable to note that in this sort of case patience is by far the better part of procedure. Certainly in this case, the police ought to have been willing to put in the time needed to make good the surrender negotiated by the brother-in-law.
MOST Of all, they should have been willing above all to control THEMSELVES, the possible unprofessional impatience and fury of the less well-trained personnel among them.
PLAINLY, Events centered on the emotional upheaval of a distraught personality — this kind of personal uproar can be infectious, but it is something the police encounter all of the time, and most usually without fatality.
THERE Are many unanswered questions, not least because in the popular mind the Mankato police for instance are widely deemed to be “taser happy!”
DID The police misuse this particular episode as a kind of heaven-sent “live-training” opportunity?
DID Individuals among them run amuck and go on the rag?
IN The resulting out-of-control avalanche, did two officers unnecessarily get injured?
DID The police through interagency ineptitude and inadequate training unnecessarily kill somebody because of illegitimate emotionalism about would-be “cop-killers?”
HERE Is a partial list of the Free Press articles — you tell me!
26 December 2006:
Three shot in rural Blue Earth county
Two officers shot
Officials plan lengthy investigation
27 December 2007:
Funds raised for officer injured in rural siege
28 December 2007:
Dark day for police
3 January 2007:
6 January 2007:
15 January 2007:
Law-enforcement pressures local press
17 January 2007:
Attempt to subpoena of press-notes
19 January 2007:
New information may clarify or cloud issue
20 January 2007:
MHP adds to public record
22 January 2007:
911 transcript 1
911 transcript 2
911 transcript 3
911 transcript 4
3 February 2007:
Judicial involvement in free press-question
9 February 2007:
“Suicide” says official death-certificate
14 February 2007:
Possibly wrong ruling by local judge
22 February 2007:
Local heroic editor stands on rights
23 February 2007:
Local reporter-hero bemused by police attitude
22 March 2007:
Family of dead man says he was sober
23 March 2007:
Bemusement of senior local police-official on whose watch sober citizen died
31 March 2007:
Grim news for local police agencies?
[Emmett R Smith
[all compilation-rights reserved
[20 November 2007]