Wichita’s most recent police shooting appears to have been set into motion three years ago, when Nicholas Garner, the deceased, was arrested for the distribution or attempted distribution of narcotics.
Garner was shot and killed by a Wichita police officer this past Saturday night, after the officer pulled him over for unspecified traffic infractions. According to the police department and witnesses, the officer had partially entered Garner’s vehicle in an attempt to remove Garner from the driver’s seat when Garner started driving forward, hitting a police car, and ultimately taking the wrong direction on the Dugan ramp to Kellogg, and striking another vehicle.
At that time, the officer, who had been dragged by Garner’s car, opened fire, killing Garner.
The officer, who, in adherence with Wichita Police Department policy, has not been identified to the public, is reportedly doing well and has been released from the hospital.
According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Garner was paroled from prison on May 27th of this year, and was under moderate supervision at the time of his death. While there is still much we do not know about the circumstances of his death, this incident appears to have been fueled by substance abuse, and a fear of returning to prison.
At the moment, Garner’s KDOC profile appears to be unavailable online.
According to Garner’s wife, he had been acting erratically and was not in his “right mind”. She stated to KWCH that his eyes were sunken into his head, that he had lost weight, and could not sit still. Without seeing the toxicology report, which may be released soon, it would appear that Garner was abusing methamphetamine, or some other powerful drug.
But how does all of this relate to the Wichita Law Enforcement Memorial?
Outside City Hall, on the corner of Central and Main, the memorial serves to recognize all of the law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty in the Wichita area. Each officer’s life is represented with a plaque and a pair of bronze boots.
Each plaque shows the year of the officer’s death, and that is where we find the hidden message, and that message is clear. Prohibition kills cops. Just as the prohibition of the drugs that Garner was convicted of selling appear to be the root cause of the behavior that resulted in the loss of his life, and nearly resulted in the loss of an officer’s life, prohibition has also played a part in the deaths of the majority of the officers honored in the memorial.
Alcohol prohibition in the United States began in 1920 and lasted until it was repealed in 1933. Prior to 1920, three officers in the Wichita areas lost their lives in the line of duty.
Between 1920 and 1933, fourteen officers were killed. The first of those fourteen officers was Wichita Police Detective William H. Ballard, who lost his life after being murdered by an opium addict in 1920. Detective Ballard was the great-grandfather of Wichita police accountability activist Doug Ballard, who has called for cameras to be placed on officers, for greater transparency in shootings, and for an end to the militarization of police forces around the nation.
Disgraced President Richard Nixon began the “War on Drugs” in 1972, again placing police officers in the line of fire. Between 1933 and 1974, only two Wichita area police officers were killed in the line of duty, one in 1934, and one in 1964.
From 1974 to the present, 10 Wichita area police officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. The message is clear. Prohibition, whether it is alcohol, or drugs, kills cops.