Monday, August 6, 2007


I was about 11 years old when I entered the woods with my Dad for my first hunting trip. I was raised in the South, where for many people hunting is as much of a regular activity as going to work or having a large family dinner every Sunday. I don't remember what we were hunting; it might have been squirrels or birds, and I'm sure we would have come home with a deer on the off-chance we'd have been lucky enough to take one, given the amount of racket I made walking about the woods.

As I grew older, Dad's interest in hunting also grew. Many areas of the South are farmland, and it's not uncommon for the farmers to lease their land for hunting to small groups of people. One morning we got up far before dawn, and drove to a small cabin in the middle of nowhere to go deer hunting. It was chilly and dark in the cabin, and 3-4 other men were sitting around a small woodstove when we arrived.

We spent most of the day in the woods, and came back empty handed. I was cold, damp, dirty, and rather tired of the whole experience as we unrolled our sleeping bags. As I began to fall asleep, the men were recounting their various tales of the past couple of days. One man had a brief story I'll never forget.
"We were out last night, didn't see anything though. So finally we decided to come back to camp. But we're walking though the woods, and I heard some noise to the left in the distance... I kneeled down and leveled my rifle, and fired off 3 shots. Never did find anything, so I guess I missed. Was pretty dark out there."

We left the following day, and never hunted with that group again.

I remembered that story as I read about this boy being killed in Oklahoma yesterday. Two police officers were trying to shoot a snake out of a tree, and missed their target. Sadly, one of their bullets found another target: 5 yr-old Austin Haley, who died in his grandfather's arms.

I find this part of the news report to be rather troubling:
(City Manager Bob) Wade refused to identify the officer suspected of firing the shots but said the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

As I've mentioned before, I work in the media... specifically, I create graphics for the newscasts. Each and every day, I receive photographs in my email from various law enforcement offices - photographs of people suspected of a crime. The law enforcement community creates press releases, and sends them to us hoping that we'll put the information and the photographs on television so that the public will be well-informed about possible criminal activity and the people responsible.

Austin's grandfather has this to say:
"I'm not saying the cop shot him on purpose,” Tracy said. "It was an accident. But let me tell you — if I had a kid and put him in this car and didn't put him in a car seat and he got killed on the way to town, they'd charge me with murder ... and what this cop did is a lot worse than that. ... There was no reason for him to kill my grandson.”

Mr. Tracy is quite correct - that's exactly what prosecutors have done, and continue to do, when children die due to negligence. From the moment a child dies, the party suspected of responsibility has their picture transmitted over the airwaves as quickly as possible.

City Manager Bob Wade will not identify the officer suspected of killing Austin Haley?

I would like to remind Mr. Wade of something. I'd like to remind the Officer, the Noble Chief of Police, their Mayor, their City Council members, and their City Prosecutor: All of you are public employees. You are not royalty. You are not above criticism and your positions do not absolve you of responsibility. You have your jobs because the citizens of Noble gave those jobs to you, in the hope that you would perform your duties with honor and in the best interests of the City of Noble.

And in this circumstance, all of you are failing miserably.

So here's Mr. Wade's contact information, should you care to let him know your opinion on his job performance:
Bob Wade, City Manager
City of Noble
P.O. Box 557, 304 S. Main
Noble, OK 73068
(405) 872-9251; Fax: (405) 972-9363

Let Mr. Wade know how you feel about this negligent shooting. And while you're at it, you might ask him about his feelings on government hypocrisy.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

This story had absolutely infuriated me. It is such a senseless death. And the fact this police officer is receiving special treatment in the handling of this case... Had the shooter been a civilian, his name & picture would be plastered everywhere.

Unknown said...

Thought you might want an update on this story if you haven't followed it.

The two officers involved were charged on Sept 7th with felony 2nd degree murder. The officers were later fired from the department. The city manager dismissed the chief of police shortly thereafter.
Full details via link.

thorn said...

Thanks for posting the update. :)