The harsh treatment of former police officer Darren Wilson in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Mo., case has changed how police officers approach life or death situations, and those officers say it could have devastating consequences.
Wilson was under investigation by a Grand Jury for the shooting death of Michael Brown, stemming from a physical altercation between him and Brown. Though he did not get indicted, Wilson decided resigning from the force was his best response to the onslaught of criticism.
Ron Hosko, President of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that police officers around the country are afraid of getting the “Darren Wilson treatment” — a skewering in the press and from public officials.
“I think cops are struggling now, saying look at what happened to this guy who fought with a larger teen for his weapon,” Hosko told TheDCNF. “Everybody is running for a tree and a rope for this guy who at the end of the day is justified in his actions.”
Even since a trial and DOJ investigation has vincidated him, the criticisms have not stopped. Now, the Brown family is filing a civil law suit, which is easier won since the burden of proof in civil court is considerably lighter than criminal court.
“If you’re a cop you have to be thinking, this could be me,” Hosko told TheDCNF. ”Cops are legitimately going to second guess themselves because they think that, ‘even if they [sic] did something right I’m going to have a civil rights case hanging over my head for several months,’” Hosko told TheDCNF. “That is going to cause them to hesitate.”
Hosko said when a guns are drawn, hesitation can cost the life of an officer or an innocent person. Even a second’s pause is enough to be killed by a criminal.
Richard Ferguson is the background investigator for the Allen Police Department outside of Dallas, TX. He told TheDCNF that even though his area is mostly friendly to police, officers in his department worry that the aftershocks from Ferguson could cost them their lives.
He said when an officer must decide if there’s enough threat to pull the trigger, they shouldn’t also have fears of lawsuits when people “Monday morning quarterback” the decision.
He said that hesitation could make all the difference.
“It could be everything,” Ferguson told TheDCNF. “If you hesitate it could possibly mean your life or somebody else’s. You’re just talking about milliseconds.”
When asked if police fear the “Darren Wilson treatment,” officer Ferguson gave a resounding yes.
“I think that’s absolutely true,” he told TheDCNF.