There are a tremendous number of things that have come out of this tragedy.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing is the loss of a sense of security. All throughout their lives, the children have occupied a particularly central place in our moment-by-moment consciousness. Whenever the kids were out of our sight, they were all the more on our minds. If we ever lost track of their whereabouts in a crowd, even momentarily, extreme concern, almost panic, would set in. We have always viewed it as our job to be the protectors of our children.
When you are in a public setting with little kids, vigilance is called for. When the family is at home, however, there is a sense of safety and security that wraps itself around you. The family, and particularly the kids, views the home as a safe haven. It is the one place in the whole world where you are protected.
At noon on June 22, 2003 the feeling of safety in our home was wrenched from us by the callous and reckless actions of Todd Wood and Arnold Terrell. They barged, uninvited (the 911 call was simply for an ambulance, not the police), into our home and shot our 16 year old son to death in cold blood. They have never shown any remorse and offered no apologies for their despicable deed. From that time onward, we can no longer feel safe within our home. Should we move? Why? We would feel no more secure in any other house, particularly knowing that loose cannons like Wood and Terrell are still free and armed.
The loss of security is reinforced by the attitude of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department commanders. They blindly took the side of their officers from the very first instant the killing occurred. Objectivity never entered into their investigation. From the get-go their position was that Wood and Terrell were blameless. This statement was made long before the investigation was concluded. The very morning after Christopher was violently gunned down; Oakland County Sheriff Bouchard went on the Paul W. Smith show on the “Great Voice of the Great Lakes”, the 50,000 watt WJR radio station. In this interview Bouchard stated flatly that his men were justified in their actions. Once again I need to say that this was less than one full day after the shooting and the investigation was barely begun, yet he had already made up his mind and exonerated his deputies. In case you do not know, the Sheriff’s own department did the only investigation despite our requests that the Michigan State Police be brought in. With the Sheriff’s mind made up and having him lead the investigation, what other conclusion besides “the deputies are innocent” could be expected?
Throughout the days following the killing, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department proceeded with a thorough disinformation campaign lead by their spokesperson, the Under Sheriff McCabe. The first story that was floated was “suicide by cop”. When this would not hold water the tactic changed to “blame the parents”. This also does not stand up to scrutiny. The entire goal of the Sheriff’s Department is to discredit the family and relieve the department of any responsibility for their actions. It is ironic that the police preach that the youth of today do not take responsibility for their actions and yet this is exactly the same thing the police themselves did.
The matter of security is tied to this because the same people are running the department and have not made any significant changes to policy. If another of their own is involved in a homicide, guess who’ll do the investigating? Yep, the Oakland County Sheriff. The citizens of Oakland County must recognize the arrogance of the department leaders and realize that they are no safer than I was. Prior to this incident I had nothing but support for the department. I need to interject at this point that I still retain respect for the vast majority of the deputies of Oakland County. Their reputations should not be besmirched but the actions of a couple of rouge cops and their superiors.
The security of our home has been violated and will never again be the safe haven it once was. The security of the general citizens is also at risk as long as people with the cowboy attitudes (McCabe said in an interview … “It takes time to get dressed and saddle up” …) are running the departments.