Internet comments on tragic events

From Facebook to public forums, social media sites lit up right before Christmas with discussions of a Texas tragedy that took the life of a deputy executing a no-knock warrant. The deputy, 31-year-old Adam Sowders, was one of several raiding the mobile home of a man named Henry Magee, who was alleged to possess several ounces of marijuana. Witnesses say that when deputies entered Magee’s home, Magee grabbed a rifle from his bedroom and shot Sowders under the mistaken impression that he was the victim of a home invasion. Early evidence indicated that those taking part in the raid failed to identify themselves as they entered Magee’s home.

This event is tragic from every angle: A young officer’s family mourns his untimely passing and a man stands accused of a crime that could lead to his spending the remainder of his life in prison. Both outcomes were preventable, and as this incident continues to be examined in great detail, I am certain beneficial changes on how these warrants are handled will result. But as disturbing as the incident itself may be, it’s the way some people have reacted that caught my attention.

Law enforcement officers are certainly not strangers to the idea that some harbor an unreasonable hatred of the police. For those who feel this way, our mere act of being is offensive. The good thing about that is most decent people don’t share this blind and casuistic abhorrence of law enforcement, or at least that’s what I’ve always thought. After the comments I read in these public forums, I have to wonder what’s going on out there in this great country.

Many who posted on these social media sites condemned the premise of no-knock warrants. I will admit that based upon the initial evidence released by authorities, this particular warrant seemed a weak candidate for a raid. The accused was alleged to have had four ounces of marijuana. However, I don’t like to second-guess officers and I’m sure there were other extenuating circumstances that made them opt for the type of service they chose. I won’t go there.

Incident accounts claim the officers who entered the Magee dwelling failed to immediately identify themselves as police. If that’s true, then that’s a problem, because most individuals who feel threatened will defend themselves using whatever force they deem necessary. I know that if someone came crashing through my front door and I didn’t know their identity, I would grab the nearest weapon and the result might very well mirror this case.

I understand the heated discussions this case invoked of the no-knock issue. I know the validity of the arguments about law enforcement officers identifying themselves in these situations. But I can’t understand anyone celebrating the death of an officer in this situation or any other. That’s the part that gets to me.

One post urged others to post police officers’ photos, home addresses, phone numbers and information about their families.

Another: “Excellent. One down, one million to go. I have absolutely zero sympathy for these jack-booted pigs in their black polyester uniforms and tin badges. There’s a huge backlash brewing. People are sick, sick, sick of these uncontrolled goons beating, shooting, raping, and killing. They WILL be repaid.”

It will come as no surprise that neither of these geniuses used their names. It’s so easy to spew filth when you can do so while hiding behind a fake identity, and I am betting that both of these posters are no strangers to jail. But with creeps like this on the street, officers need to remain extra vigilant; there are some really nasty people out there.