This past Thursday, Grand Valley State University student Derek Copp was shot in the upper right chest as police were attempting to carry out a search warrant for his apartment. Students around the nation demand to know why officers decided it was necessary to use such extreme force with Copp.
Although the police have been limiting their statements to journalists, it has come to light that illicit drugs were the target of the raid. I understand that in rare situations where an officer or civilian is in immediate danger, the use of firearms may be necessary. But what prompted the officer to fire upon a well-liked film student?
I have a guess.
When serving the warrant, the team of officers decided that it was necessary to enter the residence by surprise — through the rear sliding door of Copp’s apartment. I can imagine the surprise and terror that Copp must have felt as officers burst in with their guns drawn, ordering him to the floor. I would not be surprised if it came to light that Copp tried to run from the armed men who had burst unannounced into his home. Fearing that he may be reaching for a weapon, the officer in question may have fired.
Whatever reason the officer had for firing, I would like to know why they decided upon a rear entry to begin with. Why burst in through the back of someone’s residence when the front door works just fine?
This situation could have been avoided if the police would have used proper judgment regarding the gravity of the offense (possible possession and distribution of illicit substances) and the suspect himself (a guitar-playing film student). Knocking on the front door, presenting the warrant and then entering to carry out the search seems like a more appropriate course of action.
In protest of this tragedy and all instances of unwarranted police brutality, the Students for Sensible Drug Policy will be leading a demonstration in solidarity for Copp. The demonstration will take place this Friday, Mar. 20 on the corner of East University and South University at 11 a.m. I urge everyone to come and show your support.