Friday, June 11, 2010

Real Life is Not Hollywood

I am writing to stand up for Cst. Jens Lind of the Calgary Police Service following what has become, in my view, completely misguided criticism of his lack of heroics following a fiery car crash that made headlines in our city.

Online would-be Supermen and Spidermen (and probably some Wonderwomen too) have gone as far as to overtly accuse Cst. Lind of letting an 18 year old kid die through his indifference to the emergency of the burning car smashed up against a house. Such comments are totally unfair.

I've watched the terrible quality home movie of the officer arriving on scene and going to work...and I concede, it makes for an incredibly boring action flick. The car doesn't explode, there's no upside-down motorcycles shooting lasers while the officer goes into freeze-motion and dodges the bullets of a fleeing suspect. There's not one close-up of the grimacing protagonist as he defies physics swinging perilously over a hazard of certain death with 14 fatal wounds that somehow are not even slowing him down nor any catchy one-liners that make us all want to go out and buy a Cst. Lind costume for Halloween this year.

Nope, that home movie just shows a glimpse of plain old boring reality. A police officer arriving on an impossible scene. Driver most likely dead before he even put his marked cruiser in park, and kid somewhere in the vehicle dying...unknown to anyone else. There's a fire...a man calling out that a woman from the house is injured...passersby who likely mean well but are too naive to realize the jeopardy they would be in if they come too close...and a number of other issues I am sure...we just can't see them on the video.

The officer wastes no time in sending a call for EMS, fire and backup, popping his trunk to get his too small standard-issue fire extinguisher, and then walking calmly straight up to the unknown situation to see what he could do to keep everyone safe and get anyone help who needs it.

There's no improbable dive across the lawn, no full speed run so he can jump far enough to grab the edge of the car before it falls off a cliff. Nope...Cst. Lind appears to just do his job. That the kid would later be found alive long enough to die in hospital instead of on the scene does not mean that Cst. Lind should have run around like a chicken with its head cut off just to make onlookers feel like he was sufficiently earning the right to be called an action hero.

Unless further investigation turns up evidence to the contrary, Cst. Lind has absolutely no responsibility for the tragic outcome of this attempted vehicle stop. He didn't flee police, he didn't crash the car, he didn't start the fire, and he didn't drop the ball.

What happened was real life. Not a video game or a summer blockbuster. Cst. Lind should not have to apologize because his performance did not entertain those of you that think "Grand Theft Auto" or "Gone in 60 Seconds" is real. We should all be thinking sympathetic thoughts for the family and friends of the deceased (no matter what kind of history the driver might have had), and hoping that Cst. Lind is not haunted by what he had to deal with at work that day.

And to all those callous critics...CPS is recruiting...

Michael Bates
Calgary Criminal Lawyer


Anonymous Jann said...

Fair and balanced to be sure, Mike. Rushing around like a superhero could serve no real purpose and in fact could've conceivably added to the pre-existing problem.

This member kept a level head, followed protocol, made the calls and kept the scene secure as is required of him.

Leave all that superhero crap to Bruce Willis where it belongs...

10:42 a.m.  
Anonymous Toby said...

Bravo. Great comments. I'd like to ask the people with the video cameras who recorded the aftermath, "What were you doing to help at the time?" Nothing? That's what I thought.

2:15 p.m.  

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