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The Judicial Verdict: Michael Brown Killing Research Paper


Introduction

The killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis on 9 August 2014 reopened the already existing debate – role of policemen, stress, and decision-making under traumatic situations (Shoichet, 2014). The case aims to explore the impact of the judicial verdict on the psychology of the officer involved as well as on the police force.

Psychological Assessment

After a traumatic event, such as shooting, police officers are debriefed as a part of a standard procedure (Pasciak & Kelley, 2013). The officers involved in shooting incidents must undergo a psychological evaluation in order to ascertain if they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). The aim of debriefing is to evaluate the level of PTSD and stress perception of the officers involved in a shooting. This is essential to restore the mental balance of the officers.

Pasciak and Kelley (2013) point out that debriefing has been considered helpful in alleviating PTSD symptoms, perceived stress, and trauma. Officers who have participated in debriefing after a shooting incident believe that it provides an environment for sharing and talking about their experiences. In case of officer Wilson, the shooting of the young African-American that turned into a racial uproar, trauma was inevitable. Hence, the officer should undergo additional psychological evaluation before he returns to active service.

Deductive and Inductive Analytic Techniques

Deductive analytic technique is the process of coming to a decision after analyzing all the possibilities and information at hand. After evaluating all the available information, an informed conclusion is reached in this type of reasoning. On the other hand, inductive reasoning deduces the conclusion, which is hypothesized, and the available information is used to reach the conjectured conclusion. Inductive reasoning, therefore, utilizes the initial hypotheses to reach the conclusion and the available information is used as a tool to infer the final result.

Darren Wilson’s decision to shoot was based on inductive analytical thinking. This is so because he hypothesized that Brown had a firearm and was about to shoot. Wilson found Brown and his friends walking away from the store. On stopping them, Brown blocked the door of his car to prevent him from getting out of the vehicle. Wilson stated to the Grand Jury that he had detected the stolen good from the supermarket in Brown’s hand (Shoichet, 2014).

So there was no doubt of Brown’s guilt. Wilson first fired the gun and hit Brown’s hand, which made the latter run away. But then he started to walk back at Wilson. This is when Wilson shot at him ten times and injured him fatally (Brown, 2014). According to his statement, he had shot Brown while chasing him but the autopsy report suggested that the bullets hit him in front. Wilson’s initial decision to arrest Brown on suspicion of robbery was based on analytical reasoning. Brown and his friend’s description matched the report sent to the police. Further, Brown was unwilling to talk to the police and resisted arrest.

However, once shot Brown tried to run away, but returned, arguably with the intent to surrender. However, the use of lethal force seemed unnecessary to subdue the suspect. Wilson hypothesized that Brown was returning to attack him with a non-existent firearm. Research has shown that police officers are more likely to shoot a Black suspect if they assume he is armed (Correll, Wittenbrink, Crawford, & Sadler, 2015). Wilson perceived that Brown was carrying a firearm and was trying to take it out. Based on this hypothesis, he concluded that Brown was a threat and so he shot him repeatedly, wounding him fatally. Hence, Wilson stopped and decided to arrest Brown based on deductive reasoning but the shooting was done based on inductive analytical thinking.

Characteristics of a Well-prepared Officer

Some of the character traits desirable in a police officer are agreeableness, empathy, listening comprehension, and sociability. These traits are considered indispensable for a police officer to perform well. An officer working in a high-crime prone locality must be agreeable in order to be able to talk to the locals and be accepted. Empathy gives them the power to understand the situation in an unbiased fashion. Officers must have the patience to listen and act accordingly. These characters should be there in a police officer so that they can develop a rapport with the community and be able to take decisions under normal as well as stressful circumstances.

When officer Wilson encountered Brown, he did not demonstrate any of the above-mentioned characters. He was convinced that Brown was the perpetrator and acted accordingly without listening to what the latter had to say.

Other Option Officer Wilson Could have Adopted

Officer Wilson should have engaged Brown without using his weapon. Wilson was in a position to use his Taser or baton to engage the suspect. Given Brown’s age, even when Wilson was sure that he had committed the crime, the latter should have been more cautious before shooting. Further, he did not only shoot him once in the hand, he went on shooting him when he thought Brown was attacking him. Therefore, the best option was to engage Brown without a firearm.

Reference List

Brown, E. (2014). . USA Today. Web.

Correll, J., Wittenbrink, B., Crawford, M. T., & Sadler, M. S. (2015). Stereotypic vsion: how stereotypes disambiguate visual stimuli. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(2), 219–233.

Pasciak, A. R., & Kelley, T. M. (2013). Conformity to traditional gender norms by male police officers exposed to trauma: Implications for critical incident stress debriefing. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 9(2), 137-156.

Shoichet, C. E. (2014). . CNN. Web.

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IvyPanda. "The Judicial Verdict: Michael Brown Killing." November 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-judicial-verdict-michael-brown-killing/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Judicial Verdict: Michael Brown Killing." November 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-judicial-verdict-michael-brown-killing/.

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