LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Scrutiny of law enforcement actions is welcomed
The killing of Vernon May by Bemidji area law enforcement officers is deeply troubling to me. As somebody who grew up in Bemidji, I can personally attest to feeling frightened and directly threatened by Bemidji police officers as I was growing up. This is one of the reasons I would like to know more.
If the shooting happened as the officers say it did, I have questions. Did Vernon May have a license for his gun? Did he alert the officers to the presence of it? Were there words exchanged, and if so, what were they? Did the officers have body cameras or dash cameras, and if so, were they on? Where is that footage? Are there any discrepancies in their account of the shooting, and if so, what are they?
The police are not above the law, nor are they incapable of lying to protect themselves. In the past few years, I've been relieved by the scrutiny both citizens and journalists have put on reckless actions by police officers across the country. Because of this scrutiny, Chicago police are now on trial for lying about the murder of Laquan McDonald. In Baltimore, police were found to be covering up the sickening crimes of the Police Gun Task Force. In Minneapolis, police officer Mohamed Noor demonstrated frightening and reckless behavior in the killing of Justine Damond.
There are good reasons not to trust the story of the Bemidji Police Department at face value. There should be an independent investigation into the killing of Vernon May, and if either officers Bidal Duran and Brandon Newhouse committed crimes or lied about crimes, they should be charged accordingly.