I know it’s considered an overstated cliché but I have to say this: “Life Is Precious!” We should therefore do all we can to cherish and preserve it.

From a personal point of view, my wife and I often comment on how our life is blessed. We have our health, shelter we can afford and we never have to wonder where our next meal is coming from. God has also blessed us with a wonderful son. We have come to realize that he is indeed a gift from God and we have an enormous responsibility to nurture, safeguard and direct his life, from the moment he was conceived to the time when he will no longer be under our care and depart to make his own way in the world.

From a professional standpoint, everyday I am time and again faced with the reality of how precious life really is. As a police officer I am not called upon to meet with people to have “tea and biscuits” , so we can celebrate the wonderful things that are happening in their lives. I am usually called upon when things aren’t going well. Sometimes things are bad… very bad. The worst moments are when you have to notify someone that one of their family members have died… that they have “lost” their life. Interesting term: “lost their life”. The reactions of the family when they are told that their love one “lost” their life, like in an automobile accident or died of natural causes, is very different to when they are told that the life was “taken” due to a violent crime or event. The emotions are different. The pain is more intense.

My father and a partner I had died within a few months of each other in 2006. My father “lost” his life to a stroke due to old age. My partner’s life was “taken” by a a drug dealer. I have thought about my father since his death. There is a feeling of sadness but no tears. Last week, I was in bed and for some unexplained reason I started thinking about my partner and his family… his widow, his two children, his father and mother… and tears started to flow. The tears flowed because I still hurt that his life was “taken” in such a violent way and how it devastated his family. The tears flowed because I am glad I am alive.

Yeah… life is precious.

I have never had to “take” someone’s life in the line of duty… although I’ve been in situations where the possibility that either I or some else could have been killed was very real. Regardless of the rhetoric I have heard and read that the police are just itching, waiting for any excuse or justification to kill “Black” men… that we even sit around and plan our executions, from my experience I know this is not true. However, everyone’s beliefs and opinions are based on what they know (or think they know)… based on their personal experiences and observations… so it’s valid… and I’ve learnt not to take it personally. I do know… from my experience and observation… that the last thing any of the police officers I have ever worked with… local, national and international law enforcement officers… the last thing we ever want to do is “take” someone’s life. I also believe this is true of a vast majority of police officers… regardless of the colour of their skin.

Now I am certainly not saying that there aren’t police officers out there who wouldn’t act or react quicker to “take” the life of a “Black” man than someone from another race. Especially when a “pack” mentality sets in. Especially when a society and it’s State, whom the police represents, sends a clear signal that it is willing to quickly “take” the life of a “Black” man who may be innocent of “taking” the life of another human being… a “white” police officer. This is the case with Troy Anthony Davis.

Mr. Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for “taking” the life of Mark Allen MacPhail, a police officer in Savanna, Georgia (who was off-duty at the time but working as a security guard), in 1989. He has been on death row for over 17 years. He was to be put to death yesterday, Tuesday 24th September, but less than two hours before his execution the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay so it could meet Monday to decide whether to hear his appeal. There are many troubling aspects to his case which seriously brings his guilt into doubt. Seven of the nine prosecution witnesses who testified against Mr. Davis have since recanted their testimony, some stating that they were coerced by the police to give false evidence. One of the two other witnesses who haven’t recanted their testimony, had been identified by three of the other witnesses as the actual killer and he was also found to have ditched a gun of the same caliber as the murder weapon. The second witness who hasn’t recanted, initially told the police he couldn’t identify the killer, yet two years later at the trial he testified that it was Troy Davis. There is no DNA, other physical evidence or murder weapon linking Mr. Davis to this murder. Yet the State Supreme Court of Georgia upheld his conviction and sentence.

Now I don’t know all the evidence that was presented at Troy Davis’s trial or at his appeal. I don’t know if the original testimony of the witnesses were truthful and now they are recanting due to the “no snitching” code. I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding the murder of the officer, but there is evidence that Troy Davis was there when it happened. However, regardless of the reasons or circumstances, we are talking about someone’s life… about “taking” that life away! As a police officer who has lost a partner to murder, I understand and empathize with what the family of the murdered police officer is going through. But as a human being, I also understand and empathize with what the family of Troy Davis are going through… and will go through if his life is “taken”. In my experience, the families of murder victims ultimately want justice to be served. Initially when emotions and the pain is running high, they may want revenge… or revenge mixed with justice… but over time justice and the closure it brings is what they finally seek.

This however is not justice. The U.S. Supreme Court must grant Troy Anthony Davis a new trial and have all the evidence, including the original testimonies and recantations presented. If there is then “reasonable doubt” that he was the actual killer, then he should be acquitted. If there is evidence that he was an accomplice or obstructed the investigation, then convict him of that and sentence him accordingly. “Taking” his life in this way is not just revenge, or a miscarriage of justice, or the actions of a racist society and justice system… it’s even worse than all that combined. It’s final! 

I know it’s considered an overstated cliché but I have to end with this: “Life Is Precious!” We should therefore do all we can to cherish and preserve it.