Among the many defenses for the shooting of Jacob Blake, one that I find particularly telling is the fact that, since he was a bad guy, he deserved death. After all, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest, and as such that means anything bad that happened to him would be deserved since he was a bad man.
I find this argument to be flawed for a number of a reasons. One thing I like to remind these people is Ernestro Miranda of Miranda v. Arizona was also far from a good guy, in fact, he had similar accusations against him to Jacob Blake. However, the court determined that this does not mean his rights could not be violated, because that is simply not how our justice system works.
The fifth amendment of the Bill of Rights states no “cruel and unusual punishment” is allowed. No mystical “bad guy exception” exists in these amendments, in large part because such an exception would not even make any sense.
For those unaware, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest for, among other things, rape, sexual assault, and domestic abuse. Again, all of this makes him a really bad guy, I’m not going to deny that. However, as I also said with Rayshad Brooks, the punishment Blake received for his actions (death) is simply not proportional to the crimes he committed. Until the punishment for any of these crimes becomes the death penalty, I find all of these excuses to be nonsensical at the very least.
This “bad guy” rhetoric is a common one, and one that is increasingly making less and less sense. It has gotten to the point where police in Kentucky are trying to blackmail Breonna Taylor’s ex-boyfriend into saying she was guilty of drug trafficking, all while Alice Johnson, who was convicted of dealing and trafficking drugs, is allowed to speak at the Republican National Convention. Of course, again, trafficking drugs is not an offense that is worthy of the death penalty, so even if Taylor was guilty, so what?
However, there’s one little fact that even the people who make this argument constantly bring up: They might be wrong. Matt Walsh, for example, has been one of the loudest voices on the “Jacob Blake was a bad guy” side, and while the stories he retells are horrific, I cannot help but notice the presence of one little word:
Blake is accused of entering his ex girlfriend’s home early one morning while she was sleeping. She says he came into her room and without consent penetrated her vaginally with his fingers. He then stole her debit card and her car and fled. — 8/28/2020
She also says he has physically assaulted her repeatedly over the years. At least twice a year, according to the complaint. This is a very bad and violent man who has done horrible things to women. — 8/28/2020
The NFL and NBA have a long history of supporting and covering for abusive men. Now that they’ve lined up behind Jacob Blake, a man accused of entering a woman’s home, sexually assaulting her and then taking her car, it seems they are up to their old tricks again. — 8/28/2020
Jacob Blake was terrorizing his alleged rape victim — who he’d also physically assaulted repeatedly over the years — had stolen her keys, and then assaulted the cops and pulled a knife. This may be one of the most utterly justified police shootings in modern history. — 8/29/2020
A fugitive accused rapist and serial abuser armed with a knife is about to steal a car and drive away with three kids. He’s already resisted non lethal methods to arrest him. Do you use lethal means and risk killing him or do you let him drive away and risk the children’s lives? — 8/29/2020
The sad story of Drew Brees. A couple months ago he was a beloved superstar NFL player. Then he got pushback for defending the flag, folded like an umbrella, and now he’s running around the field with the name of an accused rapist and serial abuser taped to his helmet. — 9/1/2020
You didn’t answer. Jacob Blake’s alleged victim called 911 in tears and the cops showed up to find her in her pajamas trembling as she recounted being raped and robbed by Blake. Later he showed back up with a knife and she called 911 again. Do you doubt her story? Yes or no? — 9/1/2020
Jacob Blake had a knife, was harassing his alleged rape victim, had stolen her keys, assaulted the cops, and was trying to evade arrest by getting into a car with three children who he presumably did not have legal custody of. Should the cops have let him drive away? — 9/1/2020
You guys ever notice how Matt words his tweets on the topic? It’s always “alleged”, someone “accused” Blake of rape, “a woman says” Blake raped her. He has to do that because Blake was never convicted of anything he’s being accused of in a court of law, which is the only way we as a society establish guilt.
I remember back in 2018 when Walsh spent months going after every single “alleged” victim of Bret Kavanaugh. Whatever happened to his skepticism? Could it be that Walsh is interested in more than “innocent until proven guilty”?
Am I saying Jacob Blake was for sure innocent of any and all wrong doing? Of course not, and if you have taken that away from my article then you have misunderstood my point. What I am saying is that it’s not my place to decide, nor is it the place of Matt Walsh, or the place of the police officers who shot Jacob Blake. It is the place of nobody who isn’t a jury of his peers in a court of law, far as the constitution is concerned.
Blackstone’s ratio famously says that it is better for ten guilty people to go free then one innocent — this idea is one that our justice system has been built upon. And as it stands, until you can not only prove without a shadow of a doubt that Blake was guilty but also that the police officers knew that at the time of his shooting, Jacob Blake being a “bad guy” will not have anything to do with if he deserved to get shot.