I watched the camera footage from The Deputy's camera last night. Out of curiosity, I also got on Facebook to see the young man's newsfeed. I continued to watch the footage. I watched as he drove sporadically into the oncoming traffic lanes at speeds over 100 mph, I watched as he fired shots at my husband. I scrolled down his FB newsfeed to see where his friends left messages of condolence, saying how much they will miss him. Back to the footage, I listened as the hostage got onto the radio and told the officers that if they didn't back off, she was going to be killed. I listened as other officers calmly responded, asking the man to pull over. I heard her voice again, crying and begging for her life. His FB friends congratulated his actions, asked him how it felt to finally be in the front of the cruiser, rather than the back. On a screen in front me, the chase continued. His FB lauded his behavior, calling him an "angel" a "rockstar", told him he "went out in a blaze of glory". More chasing, more crying, more negotiating, more shots. I watched my husband continue to follow, calling out speed and location. The girl's voice gets more frantic each time she radios in. I heard the panic in her voice and think to myself, This is real life. Nothing scripted. She honestly believes she is going to die tonight... It made me sick.
On the footage, I heard my husband praying. I turned to him and asked, "What did you say?" I thought maybe he was praying for an end, for the safety of the officers, for his own safety even. He kept watching the video and said, "I was praying for her."
More FB comments about "the po-po". More praises for the man's behavior, more sadness for the loss of another "little gangsta" and "great person to smoke with".
While this man made horrible life choices, hijacked a police cruiser, held a gun to a young girl's head and fired shots at officers, my husband prayed.
I'm not as big of a person as I'd like to be. I'll admit, I find it hard to have understanding for the friends and families of those like the man in this scenario. I find it hard to feel compassion for those attending his memorial service. I find it hard to believe any of those "supporters" would be saddened if he had done what he intended and taken the life of a girl with a single bullet to her brain. I find it even harder to believe they would have felt compassion for those of us who would have spent Black Friday identifying the bodies of our LEO's, had his shots been more accurate.
With every thug, low life, "gangsta" wannabe, punk The Deputy encounters, I feel a little bit of hardness creeping into my heart. At first, I thought it was a good thing, that I was becoming strong. But instead of feeling strength I just taste a cold bitterness in my words and see a cynicism in my viewpoint.
Even now, writing this, my blood feels hot and I want to lash out at anyone who posts comments on the news articles about the incident with ignorant opinions that the man should have been offered rehab instead and that "LEOs always get a free ride". But then I remember that in the very moment of crisis, while The Deputy chased one of his own vehicles, while he played out scenarios in his head to be prepared for any outcome, while bullets came at him, while a girl's voice came on the radio in fear, he chose not to follow the path that would make him no better than the degenerate he sped after. Instead, he chose prayer.
If he-who doesn't see news happen from a television but who has to live it out-can find the strength to trust in the God who gets him home safely every morning, who protects him in the line of fire, who keeps the demons from haunting his memories then who am I to do no different, as the person who merely has to watch it happen from behind the lens of a camera?
I write this simply to get it out of my head. This holiday season has already taken multiple lives of police officers. Who comforts their families when they wake up each day with an aching emptiness? Who blasts the social media and news outlets in their defense? Who actually stops humanizing blatant criminals long enough to realize that an actual human heart is beating under every badge?
In the same manner society chooses to feel sorry for those who choose to throw their lives away and end up as nothing more than a mug shot, I will always choose life. I will always choose to support the good that exists in our LEOs across the country, even when the media attacks like a wolf, leading sheeple by the masses to believe all LEOs are bad, based off the behavior of a few. I will always choose the man on the video who chooses to pray rather than hurt.
And like the example he shows, I will not allow bitterness into my home. Where he leaves it, I will too. Where he chooses love and life, I will match him. And together, above all else we will choose to pray.