Thursday, March 26, 2009

If DNA Match Had Been Made Earlier Slain Officers Might Be Alive Today

The stories I've seen about the shooting of 4 Oakland police officers after a routine traffic stop where 4 officers died mention that the alleged shooter, Lovelle Mixon, had his DNA matched to an unsolved rape (committed in Oakland, CA earlier this year) the day before the shooting.

The alleged victim in that case was a 12-year-old girl raped at gunpoint. That alleged rape (remember if we must say alleged about reported rapes where no gun was involved we must say it in all cases) happened in February and the nature of that crime made the processing of the rape kit a high priority.

What these stories don't mention is that if rape kits were processed faster than they are now, an arrest warrant would have been issued for Mixon and he might have been in custody on the day of the shooting. Mixon is also a suspect in other rapes and any errors or delays in processing DNA evidence in those cases also contributed to Mixon being free when he committed this crime.
If the parole violation came up in the police computer the risk would seem lower than if an arrest warrant for rape came up in the police computer.

No warrant was issued related to the rape which resulted in the DNA match because another sample from Mixon would need to be processed before that could happen. This policy was likely instituted because of complaints about the potential harm of arresting someone before a DNA match was reconfirmed. Yet, as this case shows, waiting holds its own risks to those who are innocent.

This rape kit was processed fairly quickly, likely because the rape was committed by a stranger.

However, as this case shows, rapists are not just a risk to those who are at risk of being raped. Too often people view rapists, even most violent rapists, as not being a general threat to public safety. This attitude comes from the idea that almost all potential victims can prevent rape by abstaining from risky behavior.


Earlier Monday, state Attorney General Jerry Brown said he will examine how 26-year-old Mixon was monitored following his release from prison in November on a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.

Mixon also was a suspect in a murder last year but was never charged, according to state prison officials.

"Mixon was certainly a character that needed more supervision," said Brown, the former mayor of Oakland. "In Oakland, the highway patrol has an office there, sheriff and police. And all those agencies should have a list of the more dangerous, threatening parolees so they can keep a watch on them."

Problems involving parolees from California's overcrowded prison system have long beset state officials who must monitor them, local officials who try to keep streets safe and federal authorities who enforce firearms and other laws.

These problems highlight why effective prevention efforts are so important and why prevention efforts shouldn't be considered a low priority.

Mixon's history of violence against non-cops contradicts the idea put forth in a post at Feministing by Samhita that Mixon's violence was caused by police brutality.

Police actions which can be called brutality are real and serious problems. Too often police brutality comes from cops underequiped or incorrectly trained to deal with the situations they are put into. This underequipment and incorrect training are also why citizens who choose extreme violence can have the freedom to terrorize so many people for so long until a crime like this happens.

The causes behind police killing unarmed men of color and a man of color killing police are related, but not in the cause and effect way that Samhita seems to puts forth. They both have the same root: Ineffectiveness which is often enshrined in set policies.

When an unarmed man is shot by police too often the investigation ends with, "all applicable policies were followed." And the same thing happens too often when victims of violent crimes are failed by the criminal justice system. "All applicable policies were followed."

In reality these summations indicate that the applicable policies need to change and what is too often an ending point should be a starting point toward making everyone safer. Samhita is right in that a crime like this against cops will motivate people who shrugged off the shooting of many innocent men of color by the police.

Too often, unfortunately, those changes which come after the shooting of police officers are not effective changes and can contribute to more innocent people being harmed while doing nothing which will reduce the risk of this type of crime reoccurring.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson was quoted in Feministing:
A general consensus is that it was a deadly mix of panic, rage, and frustration that caused Lovelle Mixon to snap. His shocking murderous rampage left four Oakland police officers dead and a city and police agencies searching its soul about what went so terribly wrong. Though Mixon's killing spree is a horrible aberration, his plight as an unemployed ex-felon isn't.
This summation unfairly taints all unemployed ex-felons, especially those of color and it makes assumptions which are not supported by Mixon's history.

This general consensus is no more trustworthy than the general consensus which is often trotted out after a white man murders his wife or ex-wife, or after a white man dresses up as Santa before going on a murder spree. That general consensus is that the woman or the family court system must have done something to cause that man to snap.

There is no indication that Mixon's killing spree was an aberration of any kind compared to his past behavior. It isn't shocking that someone who may have murdered and felt like he got away with it would murder again.

Not all unemployed ex-felons grab 12-year-old girls at gunpoint before committing rape. Not all ex-felons are unemployed because of discrimination.

There are many issues related to prevention of crime and prevention of police brutality which are important and which ultimately would cost less than what is being done today. But victim blaming -- toward women or toward the police officers who were murdered -- will do nothing to see that those effective prevention measures will be implemented.


Bookmark and Share
posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:16 AM   2 comments links to this post


At March 26, 2009 6:29 AM, Blogger Rj said...

That general consensus is that the woman or the family court system must have done something to cause that man to snap.

All the time...

At April 01, 2009 8:36 PM, Blogger ginmar said...

Rape does not feed a man, employ him, or give him shelter. Meanwhile, the country is full of POC who may very well have been unjustly convicted who merely want to go back to honest work and cannot because of people like this guy. Surely there is no shortage of innocent black men who need Feministing's attention, or have they too fallen for the myth that rape is rebellion or insurrection or payback?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home