The Mayor's Problem
UPDATE: The DAs office is investigating shooting. Spokesperson Erica Parham declined to provide any time frame about when the probe would be completed.
"This will be a thorough investigation can't give a time line," she told me. "We are not going to sacrifice the integrity of the investigation for swiftness.
She said the state police CARS unit has been enlisted to recreate the scene of the shooting and a 3D video is being made showing where everyone involved was as events unfolded. She said community members are being questioned and asked to come forward with any information they have about anything they witnessed.
There are plenty of questions that need to answered concerning this event. And the mayor should be in possession of information that the general public doesn't know. Whatever the outcome of the investigation, one thing is clear. The mayor jumped the gun in moving to punish the officer involved before the probe has been completed.
We still don't know what "injury" the officer is supposed to have sustained during the incident that has allowed him to go on IOD status. Whether it was truly serious enough to warrant being off the job or not.
Of the few sketchy facts that have been made available by authorities, the one that is most troubling is that Simms was shot in the back. But then this in and of itself doesn't mean the shooting was unjustified.
I spoke with John Linder, who is running against Butler for the mayor's job this November. He was thoughtful and circumspect and said nothing that suggested a willingness to politicize the tragedy.
He did say that he called the mayor to find out how he was going to handle the matter and Butler told him after meeting with the Simms family he was going to suspend the officer.
Butler would have been smarter to have reached out to Linder, instead of the other way around, and consulted with him, if only so the two could provide a unified front. As it is Butler decided what to do on his own and it has led to a political and public relations debacle. He has alienated the police force he used to work for and he has looked weak and vacillating, allowing a bereaved family and a protesting mob to dictate his actions.
He should have met with the family, convinced them that he would personally make sure that the investigation was thorough and fair. He should have made it clear that he would keep them informed of its progress and that there would be no whitewash. Whether the family would buy that or not would be up to them. But caving to the demands of the family and a protest mob that was included chants to lynch a city police officer is appalling. Not matter what the investigation finally reveals, Butler has proven he is no longer up to the job of being mayor.
UPDATE II: Parham also said this:
We are aware the community, the family, the police officer and his family would like a speedy resolution. Having said that we're looking for thoroughness. Once the investiagtion is done we will invite the family in to tell them what the results are. And that is how it will be.Sounds quite reasonable and responsible. Why Butler decided not to go the same route is beyond me.