Crime and Justice: Resurrecting Tragedy, Perpetuating Negative Biases

Stop the ride spinning, I want off.

Spinning in the wrong direction…either way.

     I’m going to start this one off by saying that I apologise. I apologise for the hard feelings that might be had by some who will read the following piece, and I apologise for the mere fact that the piece is necessary at all. With that being said, let’s dive into the murky deep together, my fine young readers.

     In August of last year, in the village of Maywood, Illinois, a tragedy occurred. This tragedy involved an off-duty officer, a four-year-old girl, and her 26-year-old father. After sifting through the many accounts of the story, here’s what I gather happened on that fateful night last year:

     At around 22:00, an off-duty Chicago PD officer was on his way home after his shift, riding his motorcycle through Maywood. At the same time, four-year-old Taniyah Middleton was walking down the street, accompanied by her eighteen-year-old cousin. At some point, the four-year-old entered the roadway, directly in the path of the officer. According to authorities, the officer ditched his motorcycle in an attempt to avoid striking the girl, however the bike still managed to clip her, causing injuries to her face and other “bruises and contusions,” according to news reports. (1) (2)

     What happened next, did not have to happen. The girl’s father, 26-year-old Christopher Middleton, along with another relative, came out of a nearby restaurant, and confronted the officer. A scuffle ensued, with the elder Middleton striking the officer in the face, and another party hitting him (the officer) in the back of the head. The officer in turn, drew his weapon and fired once, striking Middleton in the groin. Christopher Middleton was taken to Loyola University Medical Center, where he passed away from the gunshot wound at approximately 22:30. Both the officer and Taniyah were also transported to Loyola, and were placed under observation for their injuries.

     [SOAPBOX=ON] Since this incident occurred, the media has, as they have with all other stories of this type, had a field day with it. While those on the right paint the father as a despicable attacker, and the officer as a valiant public servant, those on the left use the opposite brush, painting Christopher Middleton as the tragic victim of an unwarranted shooting by yet another power-abusing cop…while neither perspective, nor those who pen them, bring anyone directly involved in the tragedy any true justice.

     In addition, I now must take issue with certain publications that, almost a year and a half ex post facto, would resurrect the story and use it to perpetuate biases against either the deceased father, (3) or the police. (4) Regardless of which side this story is viewed from, there are a few basic truths that come out in the light of time. First, like I stated earlier; this didn’t have to happen the way it did. Had it been me running out of that restaurant that night, my primary concerns would have been in caring for my injured daughter, not taking reactionary vengeance on the officer. It was a bona-fide accident, and accidents, even tragic ones, do happen. Second, no one should have to take a beating as a consequence of an accident, especially when they did everything they could to prevent it, and not be expected to justifiably defend themselves. (Had the officer actually meant to take this young man’s life, I highly doubt that the shot would have been to the groin!) If anything about this is certain, it is that the entire incident took place within a very short timespan, as evinced by the 10:00 P.M. time of the initial accident, and the 10:30 P.M. time of Christopher’s demise.

     I find it unfortunate that we live in a society, where partisan media has no qualms with taking a piece of old news, resurrecting it and using it to further divisiveness. All of that spin surely has a dizzying effect, which makes it all the more difficult to focus one’s eyes on the actual truths of a matter. The truth, my fine young readers, is this; sure, there are some pretty bad apples out there on the force. Sure, there are some pretty bad “fathers,” if that’s what one can call them, out in the world. In this particular instance however, I don’t see either. I see an off-duty officer, who tried like hell to keep a bad thing from happening, and I see a caring father, distraught over his daughter’s suffering. Where these two intersected in the manner that they did, I see unfortunate, unnecessary tragedy.

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