This is a country whose people self-righteously criticize China for its human rights abuses. This is a country where the public has been aghast at Singaporean laws against chewing gum, and its “harsh” penalties for violations of the law. This is a country whose people have propagated rabid fear-mongering against Muslims, on the grounds Islam supports poor treatment of women and arbitrary and severe punishments (and I have argued in the past that American statism is not so unlike radical Islam).
Despite the outward pretense of civility and denunciation of human rights abuses, this is a country whose police murder disabled old people, the mentally ill, and children – and get away with it. It is a country whose government actually defends the police when they yank little girls out of beds and put guns to their heads during mistaken drug raids. This is a country whose police arrest people for feeding the homeless. This is the country with the highest number of prisoners in the entire world, both in sheer numbers and on a per capita basis, even as it constantly claims to be the “freest” place on the planet.
The list goes on and on – you’d think the United States would be hiding its face in shame, rather than claiming to be a beacon of freedom while pointing the “human rights” finger at every other country but itself. While police apologists repeatedly drone the tire bit about it being “a few bad apples” or “isolated incidents” (never mind the fact that the law actually encourages and permits this type of behavior by police), the truth is, it would take more than a whole team of writers to detail and cover the daily atrocities committed by police.
Aaron Rosas’ story is one such atrocity.
Not so long ago, a few days before April 13, 2012, Aaron Rosas called his mother Alice to ask where she’d stored his camping equipment, as he wanted to camp out with his friends for a night. On April 13, 2012, Ms. Rosas received a call from Sierra Medical, a hospital on the east side of El Paso Texas around midnight. She was told she needed to go to the Del Sol Hospital to meet up with her son, because they were transporting him to Del Sol, a trauma center.
Her son had been shot 5 times, because in this country, some police believe the punishment for underage drinking is death.
Some young folks, many between the ages of 17-19, had gone out into the desert. There was a bonfire and some drinking taking place on private grounds which used to be an old denim factory/warehouse. Aaron and his friends had planned to do a little drinking, then camp there for the night. At one point, Aaron thought better of the situation, and decided to go home. He was in the car with one or two of his friends and another girl.
They were parked in the dark between 2 other vehicles, and he saw a car approach. He observed the vehicle approach the gated property from a distance. He and his friends thought it was someone joining the party, and didn’t think much of it at first. Aaron turned his car on, but realized the approaching vehicle had turned on a spotlight. At this time, he still couldn’t make out much of the vehicle. As his car was moving forward, he suddenly saw sheriffs running towards another car. He stepped on his brake, turned to get a better look, and was shot 5 times. He was never told to get out of the car. He was given no warning.
At some point, the sheriffs realized that this could look bad. They had essentially gone out looking for trouble. They were on private property and had known underage kids were likely drinking there, so it wasn’t like they stumbled upon some dangerous, surprise situation which would call for such fatal measures. They crept up in the dark, took an unsuspecting 19-year-old by surprise, and unloaded on him. As much as cops know damn well that they can get away with murder, they started to think this might not look so good, and so began the lies.
Ms. Rosas arrived at the hospital and waited in the emergency area for the ambulance to arrive. As her son was brought in, she overheard the ambulance personnel mention gun shot wounds. She approached a sheriff who refused to explain the situation to her. The head ER nurse led Ms. Rosas taken to a conference room, where she waited until 2:00 a.m. Eventually, a sheriff asked her to sign a release so the police could obtain Aaron’s medical records – because Aaron himself was sedated and could not consent. Ms. Rosas (wisely) refused, as she had yet to receive any explanation of any sort from anyone involved.
Again, she waited. When she emerged from the room to inquire as to what was going on, a nurse said the sheriff did not require her signature after all, since her son was 19 years old. She was also advised that her son was now gone. The sheriff had taken him to an undisclosed room in the hospital. The nurse claimed not to know where in the hospital her son had been taken. Ms. Rosas, out of fear and desperation, went floor to floor looking for her son. On the 5th floor, she again asked for her son. The head nurse explained Aaron had been shot by the sheriffs, which was the first time Ms. Rosas was actually apprised of what had occurred that night.
Apparently wary that the nurse might say too much, a detective approached the nursing station, and said he was going to ask Aaron questions. Aaron had been in the hospital for 5-6 hours, and had not gone into surgery for his wounds. From what Ms. Rosas observed, it seemed he was actually removed from the Emergency Department, and transported to the 5th floor so that he could be investigated by the police.
Ms. Rosas immediately represented a lawyer was on the way. Her son’s attorney, Mike Cervantes advised everyone at the hospital to tell Aaron not to talk to any police. Ms. Rosas waited for her son to come out of surgery, but discovered Aaron was taken under custody immediately after surgery. The sheriff’s deputy prohibited her from seeing him.
The sheriffs predictably began their propaganda campaign early the next day. The sheriffs made a statement to the media, claiming Aaron’s car had clipped the officer’s car, and the sheriff unloaded on him because he felt he was in danger (even assuming this ridiculous lie is true – can you imagine if everyone started shooting every time someone else clipped their car? And what kind of police officer actually fears for his life because of a minor car accident?).