Sunday, July 27, 2008

EDITOR'S TAKE: Need facts in Hirschfield Shooting

The shooting death last week of Steven Paul Hirschfield, 37, by San Diego Harbor Police was tragic. But before we start targeting the two officers for the shooting, how about we wait until all the facts come in?

Hirschfield was reportedly dancing on a chartered cruise ship during Gay Pride Day in San Diego last Saturday when he fell into the water. He was reportedly pulled out of the water by San Diego Harbor Police.

According to the police, a struggle between Hirschfield and one of the officers ensued. Hirschfield allegedly hit the officer in the face with his stun gun, before being shot to death by the other officer on the boat.

At a recent news conference, Hirschfield's attorney, Brian Claypool, claimed the police's version of what happened is "preposterous." Claypool said it does not fit with what kind of person Hirschfield was. Claypool even went as far as to question whether the officer's views on gay men impacted what happened on the police boat. Hirschfield's parents reportedly did not say whether or not their son was gay.

Here is where we have some issues with this case.

1. The attorney is saying police may have had a bias against gay men. 2. Hirschfield was performing on a boat whose passengers were primarily gay men. 3. Hirschfield's parents would not comment on whether or not their son was gay.

Assuming Hirschfield was gay, that's not a problem. There are a couple of problems, however.

Hirschfield's attorney is throwing some gasoline on the fire by saying the officers involved may have had a bias against gays. His parents also do not want to admit that their son was likely gay.

If he was gay, why not just admit it? And until you have clear proof that the two officers involved had a bias against gays, don't stroke the fire by claiming they may have. It is not only dangerous, it is unprofessional.

It is highly unlikely that two police officers would risk their careers and the safety of others and shoot a man out of the blue. Let the facts come in and then we'll judge the two officers involved. Judging them in the court of public opinion is unfair and more importantly, dangerous.

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