The story of Ivins Rosier says a great deal about how the law works in America, and how justice doesn’t.
During my time at Dogster, I’ve written about so many cases of trigger-happy cops who shoot dogs for no good reason that it has, heartbreakingly, started to seem mundane. Sometimes when looking for my daily stories, I skip over the latest police killing story, partly because I just can’t take one more, but also because after writing up so many, it’s hard to know what to say. In most of the cases, the cops suffer little or no consequences, which makes reporting such stories feel even more futile and depressing.
Ivins Rosier is not a cop. He’s a 17-year-old African American who fatally shot a former police dog during a burglary in West Palm Beach, Florida. At the time of the shooting, he was 16 years old. Unlike most of the police officers who have been covered on Dogster, Rosier is facing serious consequences. After being convicted in May, Rosier was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
The contrast between Rosier’s punishment and what happens to the average police officer who kills a dog is mind-boggling. In most cases of police shooting dogs, it’s remarkable if the officer loses his or her job because of public pressure. Prison sentences for police officers are unheard of. (Generally speaking, this applies for shooting people as well as dogs.) The prison sentence handed down to Rosier, on the other hand, is longer than he’s been alive, and certainly longer than the dog would have lived.
It’s hard to imagine a starker illustration of how race, class, and power work in America than this case.
It’s clear that Rosier was one of three people who burglarized the home of Florida Highway Patrol officer Robert Boody in November 2012. We know this because he was wearing a GPS-enabled ankle monitor. According to his lawyer, it’s less clear that he was the shooter. Although Rosier told the police that he shot the dog, he did so after Detective Philip DiMola told him during interrogation, “If you shoot that dog and he dies, that’s murder of a law enforcement officer.” That was untrue: The dog was retired, and Florida law treats dogs and humans differently in any case. When it came time for trial, Rosier was charged as an adult and faced charges of cruelty to animals with a firearm, burglary, and firing into a building. Killing a police officer was nowhere on the record.
“It is unbelievable that police can lie [while interrogating suspects] but they can,” Rosier’s attorney, Jack Fleischman, told the jury. “The cop tried to hustle Rosier.”
How much value do we put on a life, whether human or canine? Whether Rosier was actually the person who pulled the trigger or not, it’s clear that his punishment is vastly out of proportion to the norm. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cops have walked away from shootings suffering nothing worse than a period of paid suspension. The question seems to be less how much we value the life of the dog, but how much we value the life of the person who did the shooting. To a lot of people, the life of a black teenager who already has a criminal record is easily dismissed. In contrast, to question the virtue and competence of police officers is so taboo in American culture that it sounds almost obscene. When politicians are forced to do so by extreme circumstances, the words invariably come coated with apologetics, to make sure that everyone understands that most police officers are loyal, trustworthy, and true.
My heart breaks for Duke, the dog who was killed during the burglary, as well as for Robert Boody, his owner. Boody broke down in tears on the stand. He came home after the burglary and found Duke lying on the floor, wounded and in pain, with bullet wounds in his head, jaw, and throat. Duke was euthanized two days later. Duke’s death is not a trivial thing to me. But neither are any of the other deaths that I’ve written about in these pages. To punish one with decades in prison while allowing others to pass with little more than a slap on the wrist is the most shameful kind of hypocrisy.
Via The Sun-Sentinel
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