The Question of Death, not Deserving.
You may kill a cop, you may kill a pregnant woman, but do you also then deserve to die?
A short exchange of bullets, a choice by the officer not to retreat, and the response on part of the perpetrator—follow, and then kill. The gunshot left ripples along the coast of Florida, resulting in a region-wide manhunt for one Markeith Lloyd, who fled the scene from a Walmart parking lot where he had shot and killed a police officer who was laying on the ground, wounded from a previous shot. The manhunt stretched into the night and onto the next day and throughout the following week, with civilians and police throughout the area on high alert in search of the gunman for nine long days. Lloyd was already on the run, having spent the previous month skirting around authorities after killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, injuring her brother and threatening several of her family members. But this time he killed a police officer, and there were witnesses. Lloyd was now known to be dangerous, armed, and not afraid of acting again, or in public.
When Lloyd was found and captured on January 17, 2017, there was a wave of relief throughout the police force and the local civilian population. There was nationwide agreement echoing from the news cycle that the capture of Lloyd was a massive relief, and that the death penalty was imminent. What else could result from the brutal murder of an unarmed pregnant woman, followed by the murder of a wounded police officer, laying helplessly in a Walmart parking lot when Lloyd followed the fatal shot? Lloyd was clearly dangerous, and had no qualms about striking again if his own safety depended on it. The death penalty, it was decided, was by far the rightful course of action, and it was only a matter of time before that was to be enacted.
However, just two months later it was revealed that the death penalty was not in Lloyd’s future after all. Orange Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala revealed in a statement on March 17th that she would not be pursuing the death penalty for Lloyd, nor would she be pursuing capital punishment in any current or future case due to the current standards regarding the death penalty in Florida. Ayala cited a series of concerns, including question of benefits to public safety, to police officer safety, and economic concerns regarding the cost of execution in comparison to life imprisonment.
The news that the death penalty would not be pursued in the case of Lloyd upset many, causing a wide range of backlash against Ayala. However, Ayala is far from alone in her line of reasoning. In fact, use of the death penalty as a means of punishing criminals has dropped significantly nationwide as there is a scramble to find more ethical ways to execute charged criminals. Between the cost of executions, issues with the drugs that are typically used in executions being inaccessible and not entirely effective, and concerns regarding the best way for the death penalty to be enacted to begin with, many prosecutors are opting to fight for life imprisonment rather than bring the issue of a death penalty.
The line of reasoning here is that juries are more likely to accept a proposal for life imprisonment than they are to approve the death penalty right out. However, proponents for the death penalty continue to argue that charging life imprisonment puts unnecessary stress on the prison system, and creates undue mental stress on the prisoner, who will be kept in solitary confinement for the majority of their life sentence.
As charges of the death penalty continue to drop, questions regarding the most ethical and effective means of punishing crime and dissuading future offenders continues to be had. Whether or not the death penalty is the right course of action, the reality is that it is not the current course of action, even in cases as seemingly open-shut as that of Markeith Lloyd.
Attribution Written With