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In 1983, Timothy Eling [above] tried to rob a hospital pharmacy in St. Paul, Minnesota. Off-duty Oakdale Police Officer Richard Walton—moonlighting as a security guard—intervened. When Walton stepped out of an elevator, Eling shot him in the head, killing Walton. After 29 years in prison, Eling has now been paroled. In interviews, he claims he’s “a different man” and professes remorse. (Funny how living in an 8×10 room for half your life can cause you to repent.) Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy believes Eling redeemed himself in prison; where Eling worked in the chemical dependency unit and served as a “senior elder” in the Restorative Justice Program. As a police officer, I believe some men are beyond redemption. By their deeds they are known.

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      • They can. They do.

        In any case what I’m talking about is the insinuation that cops exist in a higher plain then the rest of us and somehow a cops death is more importnat than anyone else’s. Or that a “cop killer” is somehow worse than someone who kills a non-sworn citizen.

        Isn’t, a murder a murder, and a murderer a murderer?

      • He wasn’t a cop when he was killed, as is indicated clearly by the “off duty” denotation.He was an every day, average citizen, employed as a security guard – as are thousands of others around the country at any given time. Plenty of security guards are killed every year, and rare is the occasion when one of the killings actually makes headlines.

        This undue reverence given to those that wear State-issued costumes is sickening. As though their lives are worth more or serve higher purpose than anyone elses.

        The whole wolf/sheepdog/sheep meme is way past played out. And, as recent events in Chicago, Oakland, New York, and other places serve to remind us: Never forget that, ultimately, the sheepdog works for the shepherd, and gladly leads the sheep to the shears or to the butcher block as his master commands him.

        • NOTE: I edited Chris’ original piece. I removed these paragraphs.

          “A citizen’s life is no less important than a police officer’s life. In fact it’s more important then a cop’s because when a police officer is sworn in they are given an oath and one of the first lines in that oath says, “I will protect life…” Translation: YOUR life is more important than mine and I swear I will protect it.

          When one of your protectors is killed in the line- of -duty it is up to the public to stand up and say, ‘No, not one of ours, not today. We will not allow you to get way with the murder of someone that hold us up higher then they hold themselves.’ You have to have the understanding that if the bad guy has no regard for your protector what’s that say about how he feels about you?”

              • @Kris

                Well, last Halloween my lights were out, except for a couple we leave on so we don’t com back to an empty house. And our front gate was shut. We live on a long, private driveway that most people are not likely to come up even if we were home.

                Last year my wife and two younger sons went out trick or treating as zombies, my older son and I went as zombie hunters.

                Do you consider 29 old?

              • @GS650G

                Well, I carry a gun for a reason. I don’t expect the cops to be there if/when I need them.

                I have the utmost respect for cops, the same respect I give to anyone who works hard, and does right.

                What I’m questioning is the pedal stool we place them on.

              • “What I’m questioning is the pedal stool we place them on”…

                Personally speaking, I hold police in the same regard as anyone else on this earth who would willingly chose a profession that puts their life on the line to protect me and my loved ones.

                I’m pretty worldly and it takes a lot to earn my approval- but a potential sacrifice of ones life to save another deserves a little more respect than say …what I would give to my local Insurance Agent.

  1. In Norway, he would’ve been free 8 years ago after 21 years in his state-funded 3-star hotel room.

  2. It honestly depends. People can change. If they want to change. People can pretend to change as well. Without monitoring someone over a lengthy period of time, it can be hard to tell.

    “As a police officer, I believe some men are beyond redemption. By their deeds they are known.”

    That’s about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. If that was true, humans would be incapable of change. There may be people who will never find the motivation to change, and there may be the insane, who can’t change due to mental illness, but you’ll never be able to tell which is which ‘just by their deeds’. Heavens be praised that you’re not a judge in a courtroom, and hopefully you’ll never end up on a jury.

    A system that makes off-the-cuff judgements without sufficient evidence and forethought (what constitutes ‘sufficient’ for you does not necessarily constitute ‘sufficient’ for society at large) ruins lives because it’s popular to shoot first and ask questions later. Or jail first and think later.

    Or engage in confirmation bias – a person committed a criminal act, therefore like everyone else I see, they are a criminal for life.

    Some may say the police simply enforce the law, leave the thinking up to the judicial branch, but you can’t check your responsibilities at the door when it comes to protecting society – the criminal is part of society as well, and if 1% of your entire population is in jail, higher than *any* country in the world, odds are that not everyone in jail is someone who needs to stay there.

    There may be those that never change, but by a single deed you will *not* know them.

    TTAG should aim higher when it comes to guest columns, this article is regrettable in its lack of thought.

    • I’m with Chris: a cold-blooded murderer is beyond redemption. SOCIAL redemption. You simply can not—should not—trust that person with innocent life. God, of course, has his own rules.

      • Then kill everyone who is beyond redemption. Their continued breathing is pointless. Your opinion, drawn out to its logical conclusion makes you only one remove different from those you say are beyond redemption.

        If they’ve killed someone in cold blood, sure, don’t trust them. Trusting someone who’s killed another person with no mitigating circumstances is treating your own life and that of others irresponsibly. Not trusting someone doesn’t mean that they can never again be trusted though.

        It doesn’t mean the killer’s entire life after that murder is pointless. If it was, the automatic penalty for murder would be murder* – an eye for an eye, etc. The only places where that tends to be the case are places every TTAG’er either thinks a.) needs to be bombed, or b.) are entirely unfit for civilized human beings.

        So if the founding fathers had a different concept of what to do with murders, does that mean they were wrong? What about two hundred years of the US judicial system?

        Heck, why not bring back the lynch mob?

        *There is no colder blooded murder than that carried out under the guise of the will of the State. The only time it’s not murder is if killing someone is the only way to preserve the life of another. We’re clearly capable of locking people up for their natural lifespan, so it’s obvious that death penalty is simple vengeance.

        • Walton had family. You call it vengeance, others call it justice. If they executed this trash on TV after being found guilty and at least two appeals I’d be OK with that. And I suspect Walton’s family would too.

          If someone you love was killed in cold blood like this you would OK with him living at public expense , lifting weights, getting a college degree, writing poetry, all the nice things your deceased family member doesn’t get to do? Sure you would.

          F that. I’d offer him a choice of life in solitary or a bullet. But we no longer care about victims and their families as much as the criminals.

          • Justice is making things better. Walton is dead. Killing another person isn’t going to fix a darn thing about that. It just creates one more family with a dead son.

            If I (or we, under the guise of the State) kill Walton’s killer, and live at public expense , lift weights, get a college degree, write poetry, all the nice things he doesn’t get to do, does that make us any different than Walton’s killer?

            Vengeance feels good, but so does exercising other base animal instincts (rape, theft, murder, etc). Civilization is the restraint of those animal instincts. You are welcome to reject civilization, but have fun living on your own.

            When you deny the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person, and simply classify them as ‘other’ and deserving of all ill-will and ill-actions, might as well call it a day and hang out with the apes and follow the rule of the jungle.

            Put Walton’s killer in prison until he’s legitimately reformed, or dies of old age. Murdering another human being doesn’t change anything for the better.

            We can either try to live up to a noble ideal, or just stop pretending we’re any different from all of the other animals out there and do as we feel without restraint.

            • @ Mark

              I’m wondering then, what is your view on self-defense, use of deadly force? By either a cop, or “regular” citizen.?

              • Self-defense when your life is in direct peril or the life of someone else around you is in direct peril is fine in my book. Your right to survive exceeds that of another’s individual’s right to do as they please.

  3. If the state is going to assess a discrete punishment for a particular crime, then the debt by the criminal should be seen as “paid” to the state at the end of that punishment. If the debt is not paid, then the state has lied – it has assessed a limited punishment de jure, but assessed an unlimited punishment de facto. If the punishment is not long enough, or if the time spent in prison is not rehabilitatory, then lengthen the punishment or improve the rehabilitation. If rehabilitation seems impossible, then have the courage to admit that, and assess a lifetime sentence.

    You cannot have it both ways – you cannot simultaneously release someone from prison but treat them as if they were still there.

    • You don’t understand – our negative deeds form an invisible stain on our soul that can never be erased. Modern judicial theory is simply the work of fools. Obviously.

      It’s also quite possible that our sons are responsible for our negative deeds and their sons in turn. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

      • God help us, the next thing you know, we’ll be stoning people to death for uttering “Jehovah.”

  4. You want to talk about fairness and equality about whose life is worth more than another. In the State of Georgia they executed a black man, Troy Davis, for killing a police officer when there was still lingering doubt about his guilt. Here in the great State of Minnesota a white man who, without a doubt, killed a police officer is going home.

    • I’ll agree that the POS in Minnesota shoulda been hanged outside the courthouse, but the only “lingering doubt” about Troy Davis’ guilt was manufactured by the media and anti-death penalty folks trying to act like the state just wanted to kill a black guy.

      On the same day he was exucuted, Lawrence Russell Brewer (pronounced “Wannabe Klan POS”), was executed in Texas for tying James Byrd Jr. to the back of a truck and dragging him to death. But you didn’t hear about that, and neither did anyone else.

      The State, and it’s evil/racist death penalty, removed a genuine, vile, evil, excuse for a person from our society and not a single anti death penalty, bleeding heart, shill said a word because it didn’t fit the narrative that the death penalty doesn’t work and only kills black males.

      • @Derek

        I agree that it was utterly hypocritical that the Davis’ execution was denounced but the execution of Brewer barely got a mention by either the media or anti-death penalty groups.

        The day of Davis’ and Brewer’s execution my Twitter feed was filled with people decrying the execution of Davis but not one peep of Brewer’s.

        When Brewer was talked about, no one spoke against him being executed.

        If your going to be anti-death penalty then you need to be anti-death penalty for everyone including the racist jackass who drags a man to his death simply because the color of his skin.

        But your right, no one, not even the anti-death penalty people would be caught dead (no pun intended) standing up for the life of such a person.

  5. We are a nation of laws, we are equal under the law. For our society to function peacefully, officers of the court have to enforce the law.

    Injuring a cop is not just an affront to that officer’s life, it is an attack on the rule of law, it is an attack on society itself. It is reasonable that an attack on a police officer would be a greater crime than an attack on me. It is not the man, it is what the man represents.

    It’s a goddamn shame it needs to be said.

    • I could not have worded it any better then that. In fact, I may have to print that, frame it and place it on my desk (giving you full credit of course) thank you.

    • @Tim McNabb

      No, it’s not a shame. An officer is a citizen, just like you, just like me. They have a different job than me or you, but we are equal.

      When you insist on placing people above other people you get the circumstance we are in now with paramilitary police forces being allowed to operate above the law.

      Yes, police are special, and that is the problem.

      • @Adam

        We do not live in an anarchy. From your comments it seems you either don’t understand what I said, or simply do not find what I said persuasive. Fair enough, it’s a free country.

        The body behind the badge is just a citizen. The badge is lawful order, a chance to be brought before the bar of justice, to plead your case before a jury of your peers. It is far better than to be cast upon the whims of a vendetta or a strongman. It is a goddamn shame you do not see the value of that ideal beyond the imperfect realization. It’s a staggering goddamn shame you cannot see that the alternative is so much worse.

        • @Tim McNabb

          What is worse that a government endorsed, government sponsored, government protected police force who can, and does operate above the law?

          We’re not entirely there yet, but if things keep going the way they are…

          What’s interesting is that a cop, or cops, caused a peaceful protestor, an Iraq veteran who served two tours, critical injures (requiring brian surgery), and that gets not one mention here on TTAG.

          TTAG criticizes cops and their paramilitary ways, bad shooting, etc. day in and day out. Yet, they are still placed above everyone else, Walton’s life is worth more, why? Because he’s a cop?His death is tragic, the fact that the guy who killed him in cold blood is getting out is a miscarriage of justice. But it is no more a tragedy than if a “regular” citizen would have been killed that day.

          Or, may that’s what you’d prefer? That an average Joe or Jane would have been killed instead? It matters if a cop is killed but would we even be having this discussion if it was a “regular” citizen?

    • So killing one of us little people isn’t “an attack on the rule of law” or “an attack on society itself.”?

      I understand the point you’re trying to make; that police (and anyone else who puts their life in danger to protect me and mine; military, police, fire, medical) are deserving of respect, honor, and reverance. I agree, they are. But that does not elevate them to a higher caste.

      No sir, it is NOT reasonable that one member of society being attacked is a greater crime than another member being attacked. No individual or group or demographic is “more equal than others.” no matter how much reverance and respect they deserve.

  6. Everyday that a police officer or one moonlighting doing security goes to work it might be his last day. I appreciate the police. Sure, there are bad cops since people are people, and departments are far from ideal. Why does it make it “so much worse” when a cope gets killed? They are the thin blue line and the protectors that keeps society mostly ordered and controlled, and without them anarchy and violence would explode. If we’re going to have hate crime laws for attacking various special classes of citizens why not create one for police who really deserve it more than any group.

  7. Question Chris – is your problem with this guy that he murdered someone or that he murdered a cop? From the way your post reads, it sounds like your issue is just with him killing a cop.

    • It’s what killing a police officer represents. It’s the ultimate disregard of law and freedom that we hold true as a nation. When you kill a police officer you are essentially telling society that, I do not believe in your ideals, your morals or your ethics. It’s a slap in the face to law-abiding citizens everywhere who try, day in and day out, to make life work.

      I have a big problem that Mr.Eling is being released, not only as a police officer, but as a father, son, brother and friend who values life and the rule of law.

      • And how is murder period not saying that?

        Sorry, but I take great offense with your view that police are superior to the “peasants” and that a cops life is more important than someone else’s.

      • @Christopher P. Fusaro

        Oh, your a cop. That explains a lot.

        So, your opinion, based on your post, and your comments, is that the life of a cop is worth more than the life of anyone else. I have that about right?

        Here is the thing: I can subjectively say that the live’s of my wife and kids is worth more than anyone else’s. That is, to me their live’s are worth more. Objectively. however, I cannot make the same assessment because I know that no one person’s life is worth more than anyone else’s.

        You seem to think that because someone chooses a particular profession, their life is automatically worth more and that everyone should recognize that.

        Let me also point out a fallacy in your reasoning (at least in this spicifc case): you say that the killing of a cop is an affornt to the law, I can agree with that. But Walton was not on duty when he was killed. I cna’t say, and neither can you, that Eling knew he was killing a cop. At best we can assume he thought he was killing a security guard. The only reason we’re talking about this is becasue Walton was a cop and your a cop and you think that Walton’s life is worth more. How many killers get out of jail and this is the first (far as I can tell) time one is posted about on TAGG.

        The point remains, on-duty, or off, cop, or accountant, Walton’s life was not worth more than anyone else’s.

        • Adam,
          You are wrong if you think that the value of everyone’s life is the same. Its not. Period.

          We should treat and respect everyone’s right to live in the same manner, but if you want to live in a society where everyone’s lives are of “equal value”, I suggest you read up on Stalin and what a marxist society does. How’d that work out for him? ‘nough said..

          • @Kris

            Godwin’s law is alive and well… only here it’s Stalin, rather than Hitler.

            And can I get a side of eggs to go with the contradiction you just served me?

            We should respect everyone’s right to live but not everyone’s life is of equal value.

            Tell me, how you can both respect everyone’s right to live and yet not value everyone’s life as equal. If you value one person’s life less than you do another’s you cannot honestly say that you respect everyone’s right to live.

            • Here’s a simple explanation for you, Adam:

              You and two men are on a sinking boat. You can only save one. They are the same age, have the same family units, etc… They both deserve the right to live, but one is a baby killer and one is a scientist who is on the cusp of discovering a cure for a disease in which you have.

              What your telling me is that they are both equal contributors to our society, and the death of the baby killer would have JUST as much impact on your life as the death of the scientist?

              If you say otherwise,
              you’re arguing for the sake of arguing and just want to see your name in print…

              Get real.

              • @Kris

                Your illustration is cute and it assumes a lot of things.

                First, why would i be on the boat with a “baby killer”

                Second, how would I know any of this. If I knew the guy next to me was a “baby killer” then I probably would not be on a boat with him.

                Third, you seem to think that I’d have the right to decide who lives and who dies. Your effectively saying “this guy is a baby killer so let him die” screw due process?

                If I didn’t know that the one guy was a “baby killer” and yet I saved him because he was closer, or the scientist was otherwise un-savable, would I be a bad person for rescuing the “baby killer.” Would then I be worthy of death?

                Fourth, if a scientist was “on the cusp” of a cure for a disease I have. Why the hell would I take him out on a boat with a baby killer?

                You and your cohorts are basically saying that cops lives are more valuable than the non-swarm citizens they are supposed to protect. Do you see the contradiction?

          • No, Kris, just….no.

            You’re talking about something completely different. We’re talking about in the case of people living or dying and the punishments for murderers. You’re talking about standard of living (which was a joke since the ruling elite still had a much higher standard of living in the USSR).

  8. I usually just read and keep quiet, but this time I feel the need to say something. Let me qualify this by adding I was a Police Officer for 8 years, so been there done that. I know this man was off duty, but I want to address the idea that a Police Officer is no different than the average citizen; true, but not the whole story. When a Police Officer is on duty he/she is the representative of the community, his/her authority comes not from the badge or the Chief of Police or the Sheriff but rather from us, the citizens who employ him and whom he is sworn to protect. So when a person deliberately kills a Police Officer, they are pointing that gun at all of us and thumbing their noses at the community as a whole. So no, the life of a Police Officer is no more important than any other citizen, but since it represents all citizens in the community we should take it as a personal attack on all of us.

    • Sorry, but I have to disagree. Your speech is a very highly dramatized and idealized notion of what police represent. In reality, for the majority of police officers, it’s just another job – and the public generally does not worship them in the way that you seem to think they do. More often the public views them as a nuisance because their only interactions with the police are being harassed over petty things while they’re told that the police “don’t have the resources” to go after murderers and rapists, yet they always seem to have an infinite supply to stop you for going 5 mph over the speed limit.

      Also, from what was stated in Chris’ article, there’s no reason to assume that Elings knew the guy was a cop when he shot him.

      • I agree with all of your points. However, for the sake of picking nits and arguing on the internet 🙂 , most police who moonlight as “security” do so in uniform. At least they do here in Ohio.

        • @Derek

          For the sake of “picking nits” I’d say that if a cop is moonlighting in uniform they should be reprimanded at the least, loose their job at the worst.

          If they are not on-duty then them putting a city/state issued police uniform on in an effort to intimidate, or give the appearance of authority is not different than if I were to put a uniform on an pretend to be a cop.

          • Hmm… Columbus PD’s contracts must be different then because that’s how every cop I know does special duty. They’re also technically never “off duty” per se. They’re on-call 24-7-365 and the department dictates which firearms they carry even when ‘off duty’, (seriously don’t get me started on that one) and the local shopping mall has so many officers working special duty that it bought it’s own cruiser that’s identical to a CPD cruiser. Hell, Les Wexner, the CEO of Victorias Secret (and I’m sure other companies as well), who practically owns New Albany has a like 18 man, 24 hour, rotating shift of New Albany PD at his HOUSE.

            They still have all the responsibilities and obligations that an officer officially on duty has so it’s not like they just run around in their uniforms and are beholden to no one.

            A friend of mine was working special duty at a Lowes and they tried to tell him NOT to chase shoplifters and he had to explain to them that he wasn’t their employee and was obligated to chase those guys. He was still a sworn officer, he just had a really, really, small beat; the entrance and exit of Lowes lol.

            • D’ot, I didn’t read Totenglockes post before I posted this. As can be seen, that is what I meant.

        • I think you’re referring to “details” where they’re still representing the police, merely being paid for their time by a private business for extra security. The impression I had regarding this guy was that he has a second job as a mall security guard, thus probably was wearing a mall security uniform.

  9. Sometimes I like to reframe things using extremes to help me see things more clearly…

    Is the killing of an uneducated, inner-city drug-dealing gangsta with a rapsheet (one extreme) any different than someone killing the POTUS (another extreme)?

    Do their lives have the same worth?

    Would/should the killer receive the same “manhunt?”

    Would/should the killer receive the same sentence?

    God may value all of his children the same, but I’m pretty sure that humans don’t – whether that’s right or wrong, I don’t know.

    • Everyone who dies leaves someone who sheds a tear… a life is a life is a life….

      With that said, I firmly believe that the “value” (ie; contribution to society, impact of loss to society upon death), of each person’s life is different. For the same reason that (in case of nuclear attack), we would save the POTUS, certain Gvt officials, renowned medical personnel, military leaders and law enforcement first, we as a society place greater value on certain key professions because we as a society cannot function without their existance.

      I’m not saying its right or wrong- I’m just saying we dont live in an egalitarian society, and I for one am grateful about that.

      • “For the same reason that (in case of nuclear attack), we would save the POTUS, certain Gvt officials, renowned medical personnel, military leaders and law enforcement first”

        You might; I wouldn’t. I’d say given the horrible job that they’ve done for centuries, they should be the first ones microwaved to a crisp in a nuclear attack.

        Society can function just fine without a bunch of elitist SOB’s forcing their will on everyone else through threat of imprisonment or violence.

        I’m very sorry that you’re grateful to live in an unjust society where the minority get to use threat of force from armed thugs to force their will upon the majority.

  10. There may have been a time when a police officer was a trusted and respected member of the community, who stood for something important and was exalted as a special type of human being — but not in my lifetime. Cops are just people. Some are fantastic, and some are the lowest form of scum known to man. That’s not a license to murder any of them, good or bad.

    Murdering anyone is an affront to society. Murdering a cop is no more or less an affront. And I have no problem with letting Eling go home to his family, just as soon as Walton can go home to his.

  11. If you want to value a police officers life more because of what he represents then you also have to be that much more disgusted and outraged at the slightest hint of corruption OR abuse, as in 0 tolerance.

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