Grief Turns Needlessly Ugly as Storm Over Friday's Police Funeral Procession Rages On
I know nobody asked me. But the latest development in the story of the police chief's son is just too much to ignore.
Under relentless hectoring by Dallas police unions, City Manager Mary Suhm has hired attorney Terry Hart, a respected former federal prosecutor who worked on Don Hill's gag-order case, to act as an outside investigator to look into a decision by top police officials to order a last-minute motorcycle escort for the cortege of David Brown, Jr. The chief's son shot and killed an innocent bystander and a Lancaster police officer on June 20.
The police organizations are angry, because they say assigning motorcycle officers to a cop-killer's funeral procession gave the man a hero's send-off. Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association, says in a Dallas Morning News story this morning, "This is something that Dallas police officers will never forget."
I respect White, and I'm sure he expresses something in the hearts and minds of some of his members. But I wonder why he doesn't understand that bitching and moaning about a funeral procession and calling for heads on a platter is every bit as unseemly and undignified as sending out the motorcycle cops in the first place.
It's all a mess. It's horrible. It's tragic. It is also the story of death.
There is a point at which we have to put our heads down and shut up and muster some composure. Does anybody out there know of a better way? Tell me.
Part and parcel of this is the insidious suggestion, from the moment that this happened, that somehow this tragic and awful double murder and third death amount to a reflection on the character of our new police chief, David Brown.
Given the evidence so far, it's not an unreasonable deductive leap to assume that the chief's son was crazy. He acted crazy. What he did was crazy. That's not an excuse. What he did was also evil. But it was crazy and evil.
Look at his father. This is a guy who came up from poor, put himself through school and rose to the top of one of the city's top police agencies. Are you going to tell me this is a bad guy? Did he kill somebody?
I really hate this drumbeat, just beneath the surface, suggesting that Brown must have been a lousy father, because his son turned out bad. I can't even imagine what makes people say stuff like that. I can't help suspecting some of it is the arrogance of parents whose own kids came out fine because the great roulette wheel of destiny turned in their favor. So now they're parenting geniuses.
But even worse is the grotesque opportunism that would exploit this situation to get at the chief politically. Now that is low. That is rock-bottom low. That's almost down there with the deed itself.
This man is grieving. He is grieving horribly for all of it. So were his subordinates who ordered that escort. We all know what grief is, right? Real grief? Is there somebody out there who has never been visited by it?
Maybe there is. Maybe that person does not understand grief. Grief is ugly, wailing, floor-beating, snot-blowing, dirty, groveling, heart-bleeding chaos. And that's the good kind. The bad kind of grief is the chilly stiff upper lip act that turns people's hearts to dust.
Leave this guy alone. Leave the other families alone. Back off and show some respect.
Hey, I am very superstitious about this stuff. I go with Karma. You know what I think happens to somebody who shows disrespect for another man's grief? I believe the Big Grief in the Sky sees it and makes a note to come back around later on and really kick that person's ass.
Terry Hart is a good man. I just can't imagine what his investigation will find. Three things, I hope: 1) They were all very sad. 2) They weren't thinking right. And then the third one, the one we should all hope for: They're O.K. now.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.
- The Cowboys' 5 Biggest Thanksgiving Turkeys
- Live From London: Your Holiday Weekend Weather Apocaforecast
- Oak Lawn Protesters Pick Fight With Philip Kingston