Good Narcan and Bad Pizza

April 19, 2023

The FDA does something good while Portland police do something bad…

Many people think politicians and bureaucrats never do anything positive or virtuous. There’s a mountain of evidence to support that view, which is why we try to pay special attention to any evidence that points the other way.

That way, we can search for clues about how it happened, and perhaps learn how to make it happen more often. Here’s the latest positive glimmer we’ve noticed…

The FDA decided to make Narcan available over the counter.

Narcan treats opioid overdoses. But should you need to seek out a prescription when a friend or loved one is dying from such an overdose? That seems like a ridiculous and deadly requirement. What caused the FDA to change?

We have seen this repeatedly. Constant citizen engagement and well-reasoned criticism does have an impact, so we need to be heartened by this and keep pushing. Because the evidence about the bad things government does continues to mount.

Here’s a recent disturbing example reported by Emma Camp at Reason

Portland cops shot an unarmed homeless man then…

They ate pizza while his body lay on the ground.

The victim was Robert Delgado. He was having a mental health crisis in a city park. A neighbor called the police to report that Delgado was aiming an orange-tipped BB gun at a fence, pretending to be some kind of movie hero. The caller made it clear that the weapon was only a BB gun and only the fence was in danger.

The Portland police maintain a specifically trained Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team. The members of this team are trained and encouraged to de-escalate all interactions with persons experiencing mental health episodes. This is a very good thing. More police departments need to take exactly this approach. Chalk it up as another example of government officials trying to do something good. Alas…

The Delgado family asserts that the responding officer, Zachary Delong, did the exact opposite of de-escalation. The family claims that Robert was not holding the BB gun when Delong arrived. He was simply standing near his tent. They claim that Delong got his AR-15 and shouted at Delgado, who responded by “pacing and yelling.” The family argues that Robert was having a mental health crisis, and that Delong had to consider that before using force.

The family’s expectation in this regard is consistent with Portland police policies and training. Yet Delong made no effort to diffuse the situation. Instead…

Delong and a second officer took cover behind trees, aimed their weapons at Delgado, and started shouting commands at him. Robert responded to these commands by shouting “get the f*** away from me” or “just shoot me.” Does that sound like the cops were in danger?

Robert walked to his tent and bent over to pick up something. As he was rising again, Delong shot him twice, and the second officer, Samantha Wuthrich, fired a non-lethal round from a 40 mm launcher that failed to hit.

After Robert fell, Delong and Wuthrich made no attempt to aid him.

Instead, a third officer, Smith, fired another non-lethal 40mm launcher into Delgado nearly six minutes after he had fallen.

It was later determined that Robert had bled to death within minutes of the first two shots.

The Delgado family alleges that a large number of officers then feasted on pizza in the park while Robert Delgado lay nearby.

So what can you do when police ignore their own rules and training, and police unions consistently protect officers from being disciplined or prosecuted for such actions? It would seem that a civil suit is the only remaining remedy, but the court-created doctrine of Qualified Immunity usually prevents that from happening.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the Delgado case, but we think it highlights the need to pass the Ending Qualified Immunity Act.

End Qualified Immunity

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Jim Babka, President
Agenda Setters by Downsize DC

Today’s Action: End Qualified Immunity