08 April 2008

Car Thief Kills Woman, Somali Community Blames Police

What a screwed-up world. Two days ago, Minneapolis police attempted to pull over a driver in a stolen vehicle, and they gave chase when the car thief took off at high-speed. The chase was called off after twelve blocks due to concerns for public safety, but unfortunately the car thief kept speeding along and crashed into a car with a woman and two children in it half-a-mile after the police stopped their chase. From the Star Tribune:

As Hanna Abukar was laid to rest Monday, members of the Somali community were questioning the police chase that preceded her death a day earlier in south Minneapolis.

"There's anger and a total lack of understanding what happened and why did it happen," Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, said following Abukar's funeral. "It's a very difficult situation right now."

Minneapolis police are still investigating the pursuit in which a 15-year-old boy who had been fleeing officers at high speeds in a stolen vehicle crashed into a car driven by Abukar at Lake Street and Stevens Avenue S. around 8 a.m. Sunday morning.

A police supervisor had called off the 12-block chase for public safety reasons about a half-mile before the crash that killed Abukar, 26, and injured her son and another boy as they were heading to Sunday school at a mosque. The boys remain hospitalized in critical and stable conditions, respectively. [...]

Jamal said he's received countless calls from local Somalis and others wondering if such a pursuit was necessary.

"That's what the community is asking," Jamal said. "We will deal with that soon."
The police just can't win. If the police hadn't pursued the teen who stole the car, and he caused a crash that resulted death and/or bodily harm, then people would likely be screaming about how the police should have done something to stop him. When the police do pursue the thief, and then stop the pursuit on the grounds of public safety (at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning), the necessity of even beginning the pursuit is questioned.

The fact of the matter is that the police are not responsible for this; the car thief is. The teen didn't leave the private property of other people alone; he chose to steal the vehicle. The thief didn't stop when lawfully ordered to do so by police; instead he chose to speed up and flee. The thief didn't stop being reckless after the police stopped the chase; he chose to continue driving recklessly. The murderer didn't check on the victims in the car he smashed into due to his reckless behavior; he chose to run away from the scene.

One woman is dead and two children are in the hospital because to the very bad choices of one selfish fifteen-year-old, not because of a twelve block pursuit by local police who were doing their job on a Sunday morning. Period. End of story.

Of course, Omar Jamal can't make political hay from those cold hard facts, so he will do what he does best: stir up anger against, and suspicion of, the authorities in the hearts and minds of the Somali community. And, unfortunately, the Somali community and the media seem to be far to willing to go along with him.


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