Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 7, Scene 5c

TOC page here.

A very brief bit, before we end Act One after this scene. Mr. Haddad wasn’t a man of violence, but he’s dead now, because he pulled a gun on Sergeant Brown:

Two hours later, Diana, Mustapha, Purcell, Peña and Chief ADA Larry Quinn sat in Purcell’s office. “Nobody saw nothing,” said Peña. “I sent some guys out to roust all the bums–” He caught Diana’s look. “Sorry. Homeless citizens, in the park, but they all stayed away from the van on account of the warning. Brown’s story is short and sweet, and his partner’s blind.”

Purcell: “I’m relieved that Sergeant Brown was justified.”

“I didn’t say that. Sir. Ballistics has the suspect’s gun: let’s see where it came from.” A sour grimace. “But you’re going to have hippies on one side bitching about out-of-control cops, and the police union on the other demanding proof.”

Purcell said, “White cop, brown guy: let’s get out in front of that.”

Quinn said, “I don’t like the optics, but even were I convinced Brown threw down the weapon, I’d still have trouble getting it past a grand jury, let alone a trial.”

Purcell said, “Inspector, you found nothing at the man’s house?”

Mustapha said, “Boxes of stuff from Costco for delivery to the homeless. A terrified child. All kinds of books in Arabic.”

“Connection to terrorism?”

“How should I know? I can’t read Arabic.” Sergeant Yusuf from Traffic is flipping through them now. He’ll call me if he finds anything fishy. So far, he says it’s all Sufi stuff.” At their confusion, “Like, the New Age version of Islam. Meditation, nonviolence.”

Diana said, “The greater jihad is within. He’s not our guy. Why did he have to have a gun?”

Why indeed? We can see here the extent to which the media drive the reaction of the police. Purcell is less worried about Mr. Haddad than he is about the potential reaction to Haddad’s death. Quinn is more philosophical—because the real problem with police shootings is that they’re difficult to prosecute, for at least two reasons. Quinn doesn’t want to aggressively prosecute one cop because he knows the thin blue line means he’s going to get scant coöperation from other cops on other cases. Juries, especially grand juries with their undemocratic process, don’t want to second-guess a cop’s split-second decision. Even in an age where we’re a lot more cognizant of the potential for injustice in encounters between cops and (especially minority) citizens, jurors are reluctant to transform what might have been an honest mistake into a career-ending conviction.

We also find out that Mustapha can’t read Arabic, ostensibly his native language. Later, it will be explained not only that Moroccan is to Arabic like Spanish is to Latin, but also that the colloquial dialects of Arabic aren’t (or more properly, weren’t, until about 20 years ago) written languages. Also, we get to find out that there’s something akin to a New Age Islam, which most Americans probably don’t know.


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  1. Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 7, Scene 5b | Julian Cage

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