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March 2009
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What is important to know about an unarmed student who gets shot in the chest by the cops?

Radley Balko’s been covering the case of Derek Copp, a Grand Rapids student who was shot in the chest by a cop during a drug raid. The police still won’t release whether any drugs were found or, as Radley puts it “why one deputy felt the need to shoot the guy.” (They have admitted that Copp was unarmed and that there was no confrontation.)
So it seems, based on available facts, we’re talking about a student who possibly smokes some pot, and may not even sell any, and an armed drug raid that involved shooting an unarmed young man in the chest who was raising his arm to cover his eyes from the flashlights shining in his eyes.
Unfortunately, as we all know, this kind of thing is all too common (and Copp is lucky to be alive).
Here’s the bizarre thing: Guess what the Grand Rapids News decided was relevant and important to investigate?

Copp, 20, declares himself a “left wing hippie peace-keeping liberal,” on his Facebook page, which frequently quotes Grateful Dead lyrics and highlights his other favorite items. Among the listings:
› Copp lists SMOKA DA BOLSKI as an interest.
› Groups Copp has joined include “Vote ‘Yes’ for Medical Marijuana in Michigan” and LEGALIZATION.
› His preferred movies include drug diaries “Bongwater,” “How High,” and “Drugstore Cowboy” in addition to Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino flicks.
› Favored quotes are: “Give peace a chance,” and “Life isn’t like a bowl of cherries or peaches, it’s more like a jar of Jalapenos — what you do today, might burn your — tomorrow …”

Really? That’s what’s important?

Hey, don’t blame the cops. We only enforce the law, we don’t make it.

It’s something we hear quite often, but of course it just isn’t true.

For more than five years, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Lt. Barbara Ferguson has been helping the men and women of the department protect the public. But instead of a gun and badge, Ferguson relies on her powers of persuasion as she maneuvers […]