When this was reported the other night they said that they were struggling. I hope it's not the way it sounds here, another good LEO in a tight spot. But if it is it is good another BG off the street and a LEO that is not above the law, just like us.NO MAN is above the law, even those who enforce it.
For that reason, Savannah authorities charged a veteran Savannah-Chatham County police officer with felony murder in a fatal shooting Wednesday afternoon on the city's eastside.
They had no choice based on the evidence presented thus far.
The officer, Antonio Taharka, shot Anthony Smashum, 41, twice - once in the leg and a second time in the back - during a foot chase, police said. Smashum was unarmed and didn't attack or threaten the officer. He was trying to get away when he was shot and killed, an investigation showed.
Running from a police officer is extremely stupid - not to mention a crime if someone is trying to avoid arrest. And Smashum, who has a rape conviction on his long rap sheet, is no angel.
But that's insufficient justification to use deadly force.
It would be a different story had Smashum, who stood 5-foot-11 and weighed about 245 pounds, made a move on the slightly built officer. But that apparently didn't happen.
Indeed, the shooting as reported makes little sense.
Smashum ran from officers who saw him about 4 p.m. Wednesday near a convenience store at 39th Street and Waters Avenue. That's an area plagued by gang and drug violence, and where police have focused considerable attention in a special anti-crime operation tagged "Raging Waters."
Smashum was released from prison last September, records show. Officer Taharka shot Smashum in the course of trying to arrest him on charges of probation violation and for failure to register as a sex offender.
Taharka is an eight-year veteran with no record of disciplinary problems. Instead, he's closer to a model officer.
He's known in the community as someone who does his job and has earned the respect of many citizens. Some of them were stunned - even outraged - that he has been charged with a felony.
Such a reaction is understandable. However, investigators and prosecutors must often make difficult decisions based on the facts and evidence at hand. They can't let emotions cloud their professional judgment.
This is one of those times.
Police officers do thankless work for insufficient pay. They are part of the thin blue line that separates law-abiding citizens from criminals who kill, rape, steal and sell drugs.
To see an officer - especially an officer with Taharka's reputation - being locked up is extremely painful.
But if authorities believe that someone has broken a law, they would be derelict not to enforce it. That goes for someone who wears a badge and someone who doesn't.
Police Chief Michael Berkow termed the murder charge "unprecedented." He also said the decision to charge the officer was reached reluctantly.
Perhaps additional evidence will surface that will affect this case as it goes through the system. It's also difficult to predict what a jury will do. An arrest isn't the same thing as guilt. Every accused person is presumed innocent - even an accused officer.
Given Savannah's crime woes and the public's desire to get dangerous criminals off the streets, the prospect of putting an officer on trial for murdering an ex-con poses a tough challenge for District Attorney Spencer Lawton Jr. But that comes later.
For now, a man is dead and a good officer sits in jail. That's a double tragedy.
Investigators and prosecutors must often make difficult decisions based on the facts and evidence at hand... This is one of those times.