21st September 2011 marked a grievous day for the
judicial system of North America as the southern US state of Georgia condemned
a man to death under very contestable circumstances and this drew an
international outcry. The “victim” in mention is a 42 year old African American male named Troy Davis.
As the story goes, Troy was convicted of murdering a police
officer by the name of Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Gerogia, August 19, 1989. The report by the Associated Press, as published in The Straits Times 23rd September 2011, submits that Officer MacPhail was shot in the head and heart while attempting to intervene in an argument at a Burger King parking lot. Solely based off eyewitness testimonies and despite the lack of concrete physical evidence, Davis was sentenced to the gallows. And this obviously angered many—the family of Mr. Davis notwithstanding.
Now I am no student of law but it certainly doesn’t take one to feel that the case of the recently deceased Troy Davis should have been received fairer treatment. Even after the revelation of the alleged biasness of eyewitness testimonies after some of them
revealed that they were pressured by the police into writing slanted accounts,
the case was not reviewed.
Reason, defined as the capacity for rational thought, inference or discrimination, should be the governing component to all judicial decisions so as to ensure impartiality on all parts, yet unfortunately the crucial element has failed all too often.
To have a man put on death roll would be to say that he has been proved,
beyond reasonable doubt, culpable of the heinous charges put against him. While I cannot speak for the late Mr. Davis’ innocence, I do not find substantial evidence to prove his guilt either, but what I would like to do is present my observations in a case which has so irked the world.
Racial prejudices still cloud the judicial system. Unless key findings of the investigation were withheld from the public, I find it hard to see how Troy Davis could be
sentence to death by a slew of dubious eyewitness accounts, without the
influence of some sort of racial prejudice against the African American
community. These prepossesses biases often hamper effective communication, and in this case, void the word of one man against the word of a questionable few.
Radio journalist John Lewis, who witnessed the event, said Davis
continued to protest his innocence even in the death chamber. And this quite rightly sums up the entire affair of a man being heard but ignored.
Contrary to most public sentiment at the moment, I do believe a thought has to be spared for the family of the slain policeman. Amidst all the controversy and inciting developments with regards to the case, the original victims have been unintentionally
forgotten. From their perspective, having lost their beloved family member to a brutal slaying, the execution comes as reprieve for their long-running sorrow. Some may think of the MacPhail family as being the villains here simply because they celebrate the death of a seemingly innocent man. Yet one must be board
enough in compassion to realize that when the context is reversed, their
“happiness” is justifiable for it brings closure to a miserable period of their
lives. Their feelings should not be disregarded.
Finally, with the unhappy resolution of the Davis affair, many groups and activists have renewed their fight for the abolishment of capital punishment. Although I would say that I am not for capital punishment the use of it in some instances does seem permissible,
but definitely not in the case of Troy Davis. Whether the American judicial is going to revise its punishment system because of this remains to be seen but I have an inkling that this matter is going to be swept under the carpet. Authorities however, will be careful to skirt around future sinkholes such as this one because if another similar occurrence like such were to arise, the peaceful protests will not be looking too peaceful no more.
Bottomline, if you’re going to have someone executed, you better have a pretty darn good reason and evidence to do so.
pictures courtesy of Yahoo News