I come from a family that is full of police officers; I nearly became one myself. So I have an appreciation for the split second decisions and their sometimes awful consequences made by law enforcement personnel. The air marshals on that Miami flight yesterday likely had very little time to make a decision and react to what they perceived as a serious threat by Rigoberto Alpizar.
However, not enough information has been made public yet for us to decide whether or not the shooting was justified. That is why every time a law enforcement officer discharges their weapon, there is an investigation and the officer is placed on administrative leave or put on desk duty. A reasonable person waits to hear the facts before forming an opinion.
What was most disturbing to me, watching CNN not long after the incident, was the knee-jerk reaction of Representative John Mica (R. FL), chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee. When Wolf Blitzer asked him about reports that Alpizar's wife had run after him screaming that he was sick and off his meds, Mica said (and this is all from memory, CNN doesn't have this interview up on its website), "I don't care about any of that!" And immediately launched into a "Support the Air Marshals" speech.
Without any evidence on which to base his remarks, Mica stated that he unequivocally supported what the air marshals did and didn't want to hear anything about how Alpizar might be sick. The talking points came out - obviously he was well prepared and briefed - about how many passengers had flown since 9/11 (can any Republican speak about any incident without dragging that memory out into the open?) and how this was the only deadly incident since then. He was completely unconcerned about the life or problems of a citizen of his state; this guy was shot by law enforcement, therefore he was guilty, therefore it didn't matter that he was dead.
End of story.
I have been wondering lately if it is only the Iraq war that brings out this knee-jerk reaction in the Right. Obviously not. Welcome to the brave, new, Republican world; where the cops are always right and you are always a suspect.