A bullet in the arm is worth a night in the slammer

March 19, 2010

If you had to choose, would you take the piercing sensation of lead discharged into one of your extremities from a loaded .45, or the circulation-killing clamp of a pair of handcuffs? Which one hurts more?

Two men in Oxnard may know the answer to that last question. In two separate incidents, they were shot through no intent of their own, yet still arrested for the trouble.

In the first, a man with a stolen handgun accidentally shot himself this week. In the second, it was the cops whose gun accidentally went off, sending a bullet into someone’s arm.

Both men were subsequently arrested. And both events are raising questions over police responsibility, and ultimately, police carelessness.

Granted, if you look deeper into these men’s stories, there’s more to it. Mr. Whoops-I-Shot-Myself did so with a stolen gun. And it was the shooting that alerted police to the fact that the gun was stolen, *and* that the victim was also a suspect in a number of outstanding arrest warrants.

In the other shooting, the cop’s gun went off *only* because he was trying to apprehend the Oxnard man over an alleged rape/assault complaint.

Essentially, when you look at it, the cops were following the letter of the law. It’s unfortunate these men were wounded by firearms, but they were wanted for other crimes. Getting shot doesn’t exempt them.

Yet some people are intimating that all charges on everything should be dropped for the trouble these men went through. There are people who wait for the police to slip up at any moment. “Police brutality? Their gun discharged accidentally? Let that suspect go even though he’s a serial killer!”

True, in the second case of cop’s gun-on-suspect, there’ll be a civil suit, and he might make some cash off the incident. There may even be charges of misconduct down the line in the P.D. But that doesn’t erase the fact that he was a criminal, being apprehended for another crime he should be off the streets for anyway, bullets in the arm, leg, head, anywhere notwithstanding.

I think it would go something like this: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime … even if you do bite the bullet.”

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