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Opening Arguments

Open for discussion

This story about a man who died -- probably from exposure -- outside a McDonald's in Indianapolis is interesting:

A man found dead behind a Far-Northside McDonald's on Monday had been dropped off by a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy.

[. . .]

Ocasio, 40, Indianapolis, flagged down a Hamilton County Sheriff's Department deputy about 9:50 p.m. Sunday, department spokeswoman Vicky Dunbar said.

Reserve Deputy Michael St. Pierre saw Ocasio was not dressed properly for the weather and picked him up, Dunbar said. Ocasio wanted a ride to 10th Street and Shadeland Avenue in Indianapolis, Dunbar said.

St. Pierre was patrolling the Carmel area and could not leave, Dunbar said, so he dropped Ocasio off at the McDonald's shortly after 10 p.m.

But what's really fascinating is the argument among the more than 150 commenters. There is the to-be-expected venom from idiotic flamers, but there's also a philosophical discussion. What is the duty of the officer involved, and what does "beyond the call of duty" mean? Shouldn't he have recognized that the man had been drinking and wasn't dressed properly and gotten him someplace safe, even if it meant a night in jail? But the police do have duties to perform and can't stop to rescue every person who is making a bad decision. The man was responsible for his own actions -- it was enough that he got dropped someplace that would have been safe had he gone in.

This participatory stuff is often better as a concept than as an actual practice, but when it works, it's kinda cool.


Thu, 12/18/2008 - 3:18pm

And now, I think Hamilton County is in a tougher spot legally since the deputy did something but arguably not enough rather than doing nothing at all.