above the law

In June, Roxbury resident Bert W. Bowen was shot three times from behind and killed. In July, mentally ill Luis Gonzalez was shot dead by intruders who broke down the door of an apartment he barricaded himself in. In October, Victoria Snelgrove was shot in the eye with a "less lethal" weapon and died.

Their killers will never be held accountable because the killers were "doing their job." The public doesn't even know the murderers' names; the media has not printed them. But we do know Bowen and Gonzalez's murderers are on the streets - a spokesman for the police confirmed that much about his co-workers.

The public and the press largely ignored the deaths of Gonzalez and Bowen because they were perceived as criminals - men of color who posed a threat to police, despite witness accounts to the contrary. But since Snelgrove - a young, white college student - was accidentally murdered, apologies have been made, and perhaps the coverup - er, internal investigation - of her death will be completed. The promised internal investigations of Bowen and Gonzalez's deaths have never been done.

What sort of unjust world do we live in that allows these fatal encounters - and many nonfatal ones - to go unnoticed?

If I accidentally killed someone, even if I felt terrible about it, I wouldn't get trauma leave from work. I would get handcuffed, taken to the police station, roughed up, interrogated, maybe bailed out, and charged with - at the very least - involuntary manslaughter. My name would be in the press along with the names of those who died.

But these killers are above the law because they are the enforcers of the law. And it's tragic that there's no one willing to hold them accountable.

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