Frankenmuth, MI– Senators in Michigan, the first state to ban capital punishment, have proposed a constitutional amendment allowing the death penalty for the first-degree murder of an on-duty police or corrections officer.
The resolution is sponsored by Sen. Virgil Smith, a Democrat, but also has backing from the top two Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate. The divisive bill would require a 2/3 majority vote in both chambers before it would be put on the statewide ballot.
“I feel like if you shoot a police officer, you’re probably the worst of the worst criminal we have out there,” said Sen. Virgil Smith.
“If you’re willing to go that far, there’s no telling what you’d be willing to do. So no mercy at that point.”
The mother of Trooper Paul Butterfield, Jr., who was killed in the line of duty in September of 2013 spoke to WNEM stating her mixed feelings on the matter.
“When you’re talking about the murder of a police officer, many times those are spur of the moment things that happen, you’re caught in a situation, you don’t have time to think I may go to prison, or I may be sent to the death penalty,” Butterfield said.
Butterfield does not believe that the threat of capital punishment would have deterred her son’s killer, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but ended up hanging himself in his cell last spring.
Republican Senator Rick Jones, who spent 30 years working in a County Sheriff’s Office, was shot at twice during his time with the department and is adamantly against the proposal.
“I opposed it because occasionally the system makes a mistake,” Jones told MLive, noting that a Lansing man was convicted for killing a community college professor in 2005 but was later exonerated when new evidence was discovered.
“We cannot dig a man up and say, ‘Sorry, we made a mistake,'” said Jones. “We could release an innocent man from prison.”
There has never been any evidence that capital punishment deters crime. In the heat of the moment crimes, there is rarely time to sit down and weigh your pros and cons.
Another facet to consider is the ramification of no-knock raids.
In Texas, where the death penalty is legal, there were two nearly identical cases of SWAT officers being killed within a six-month-time frame. Both men fired on the officers, who had allegedly not identified themselves as police, believing they were acting in self-defense against intruders.
One of the men was cleared of any wrongdoing after it was decided he acted in self-defense, the other is currently facing the death penalty. The cases are nearly identical in nature, even down to the time of the morning that they occurred. The only difference being the man facing execution is black.
In a system as corrupt and as damaged as ours, should we really put human lives even deeper into the hands of our crooked state?
As of 11 pm on Friday, February 6, KilledByPolice.net has logged 110 people killed by police since the first of the year.
The Officer Down Memorial Page lists zero officers killed by suspects.
With numbers like those, it is truly astonishing witnessing the audacity of these senators who are trying to grant further special treatment to these men and women who can already kill with impunity.
Police lives matter? You don’t have to tell us, we can see that. It would be nice if everyone else’s lives mattered, too.