Someone has to ask

Shon Demetrius McClain is dead. Shon Demetrius McClain was a father, a husband, someone's brother, someone else's son. He had not even been convicted of a crime. Shon Demetrius McClain was booked into jail for an open container violation, a crime worthy of a citation, a slap on the wrist at worst, and failure to appear on a "drug paraphernalia" charge.

You or I can walk into any number of stores in any town in this state and legally buy cigarette papers, a hash pipe, or a hookah, all of which are drug paraphernalia, the most likely sort of paraphernalia he might have possessed, but even if he had hypodermic needle in his pocket, so what! If he was being peaceful and minding his own business at the time, why was he even stopped? This poor man was not even convicted of the petty "crimes" he was accused of committing, and now he's dead.

Markeith Council, who worked as a detention officer at the Wake County jail for four years, will spend at least three months as an inmate there after a jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the beating death of inmate Shon Demetrius McClain last summer.

Council had been charged with voluntary manslaughter, but after a full day of deliberation the jury chose to convict him of a lesser crime.

Both crimes are felonies. Under North Carolina law, a person is guilty of voluntary manslaughter if he kills another human being “without malice, premeditation or deliberation.” Involuntary manslaughter, which brings a shorter prison sentence, means someone kills another human being “unintentionally and without malice.”

[Judge] Gessner sentenced Council to 12 to 24 months in prison, but then suspended the sentence and ordered the former jailer to spend 90 days in the jail where he worked and three years probation.

In addition to the video, the jury asked to review McClain’s autopsy report as well as the definitions of “voluntary manslaughter,” “involuntary manslaughter” and “not guilty.” Judge Gessner told jurors they could use only the written definitions provided by the court.

James argued on Wednesday that Council, 27, felt threatened by McClain and responded using techniques that are taught to all detention officers. Willoughby countered that Council let his anger get the best of him and used excessive force to subdue McClain, who appears in the video to go limp before Council slammed him to the floor a second time. At 6 feet, 290 pounds, Council had a size advantage over the 5-foot 7-inch, 119-pound McClain. News & Observer

This case was a tragedy that didn't need to happen, as well as a travesty of justice. The crimes Shon McClain was charged with were ridiculous to begin with, and I dare say that if he were not black, and especially if he were not poor, not only would he still be alive today, he most likely would never have been arrested. The war on drugs is worse than a failure, it is a crime against humanity that institutionalizes racism and destroys far more lives than drug abuse ever could.

You want to reduce crime? Stop letting the investment class destroy our economy, stop letting CEOs hide money in offshore accounts or send manufacturing jobs overseas where the labor and environmental laws don't inhibit their sociopathic tendencies. People don't turn to drugs because they are weak or evil, they turn to them for solace from the pain that comes from endless, grinding, inescapable poverty!

How long are we going to sit by and watch children lose parents, spouses torn apart, and families destroyed so a few puritanical busy bodies can slap each other on the back and feel good about themselves while our brothers and sisters are enslaved and murdered because we're afraid to ask cops, lawyers, jailers, prison builders and operators, drug testing companies and others to find a new line of work.

They used to threaten to sell slaves down the river to keep them in line. Submission was demanded on the threat of losing one's spouse and children; a punishment worse than death. How is this "legal" system any different?