There are two polarized camps when it comes to judging the actions of lawmen, those who think they can do no wrong, eagerly willing to dismiss condemning evidence, and those who think they can do no right, always believing the worst.
We pledge allegiance to neither camp, preferring to make a judgment based on the facts — and while it’s early, what evidence there is weighs heavily in favor of two sheriff’s deputies who tried on Friday to subdue a Parkton man gone wild, an incident that turned tragic with his death.
The sheriff’s deputies, as is always the case when an incident involving lawmen turns deadly, are now on administrative leave, and the State Bureau of Investigation is asking the questions.
The dead man, George McKeachen, was no stranger to residents of the Parkton community, who called him Scooby, affectionately we are told. He suffered with mental illness and from drug abuse, but was generally considered harmless even as he begged people on the streets for their change.
But something went awry on Friday, when McKeachen became violent at a local convenience store, deputies were called, and Scooby died after being stunned twice with a Taser. We don’t know if the responding deputies were a bit jittery in the wake of a Lumberton police officer who was recently shot and killed, but if they were, that makes them human.
Regardless, their intention was clearly to prevent McKeachen or anyone else from being seriously injured or killed; that is why a Taser was employed.
A videotape that can be found on youtube.com shows McKeachen attacking a man in the parking lot, knocking items off the store’s counter, throwing an item at two people trying to enter the store and then attacking them. The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=okx5HsAHTXU.
Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said when deputies arrived, McKeachen fought with them, and twice tried to steal a patrol car. That is when the deputies stunned him, not once, but twice when the violence continued.
The cause of McKeachen’s death is undetermined pending a toxicology report, whose results won’t be made public for weeks, so any lingering questions will have to wait.
In the interim, we should all be able to agree that a Taser is weapon whose use is prescribed precisely in an effort to prevent police from having to use deadly force — and the weapons prevent far more deaths and serious injuries than they have caused.