The situation was complicated by the fact that Lancaster police had visited the apartment earlier in response to reported domestic violence and failed to arrest Brown's son, David Jr., who they found threatening his children with a belt for not reading their Bibles. As James Ragland wrote: "The tragedy has thrust the men and women in blue in highly unusual, if not uncharted, territory – mourning the loss of a fallen colleague; sympathizing with the respected and accomplished father of the killer; grieving the death of another innocent victim and father, Jeremy McMillian."
I normally don't write about such critical incidents until more information has come out (and the Dallas News Crime Blog is the place to go for breaking details). Judging whether Brown, Jr. should have been arrested earlier, whether he would have been if his father weren't police chief, are questions that require more information than is now available. My heart goes out to everyone involved including Chief Brown, who now finds himself at the center of an almost Shakespearean tragedy, full of anguish and irony. Bob Ray Sanders had an excellent column on the situation.
Even before mourners were finished burying their dead, the calls for Brown's resignation began. Reporter Scott Goldstein first posed the question, and the comment sections of Dallas News stories are increasingly filled with self-identified police officers demanding his resignation.
The police unions smell blood in the water and their leaders are using the situation to undermine the chief's authority. Brown's union critics found their first opportunity to use the situation against the chief after his son's funeral, when a deputy chief impromptu assigned traffic cops to escort the son's funeral procession. Everywhere in response are outraged declarations that police were assigned to accompany a "copkiller" on the way to the grave.
Upon reading these complaints, I immediately wondered to myself if Dallas' most famous copkiller - Lee Harvey Oswald, who murdered Officer J.D. Tippit that fateful day in addition to President Kennedy back in November 1963 - received a police escort? A quick search discovered this video on YouTube of Oswald's funeral, where, sure enough, the first image is of a
If Lee Harvey Oswald, murderer of both a US President and a Dallas police officer, received a police escort at his funeral - with an officer leading the casket to the hearse, no less - I don't see a serious beef with what happened here. This is a disingenuous complaint and an opportunistic excuse to undermine the new chief.
Certainly Brown needn't resign because of any personal culpability. His son was mentally ill and it doesn't matter if you're homeless or a police chief's son, our society has few methods to treat serious mental illness outside the justice system - a situation that IMO greatly contributes to these types of tragedies. It's possible Lancaster police didn't arrest Brown, Jr. that day because he was the chief's son, but it wasn't because Brown intervened - they phoned and left a message saying they'd been at the apartment and his son was "okay," but by all reports Brown never communicated with them about it.
Everyone involved in this tragedy deserves a chance to grieve without facing mean-spirited attacks, including the Chief and his family. There's little left to investigate and nobody left to blame. All that remains is an opportunity to emerge with renewed sympathy for one another.