Shaun Diamond, the 45-year-old Swat officer who was somehow shot in the back of his head by a Mongol named David Martinez was memorialized yesterday in a ceremony grander than those that used to be reserved for dead presidents. Not even dead presidents get escorted to their graves by a convoy of Bearcat armored vehicles. What symbolism are the American people supposed to draw from that?
Yesterday, all the dents of Shaun Diamond’s life and his death were rubbed out and painted over and polished until they gleamed in an 11,000 seat auditorium in Ontario, California called Citizens’ Bank Arena.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who has been lauded by President Obama as “by far the best-looking attorney general” called Diamond’s death “a very tragic time for our state.” She called him “a mentor both within the department and the greater Pomona community.” She told his parents “the state of California is forever grateful for his service.”
Harris, who is the chief law enforcement officer in what is by far – with more than 38 million residents – America’s most populated state, betrayed her true feelings about the place of militarized police in a democracy by insisting, “We must all never forget that our law enforcement officers go to work at all hours of the day and night prepared each day to give their lives. They put service above self and they do so without any expectation of award or reward.” She said “Diamond’s service and sacrifices will live on in the noble work that is performed each and everyday.”
Pomona Police Chief Paul Capraro told Diamond’s children, “Your father was an incredibly strong man,” and might have been accused of bragging when he announced that “law enforcement is a noble profession” and “no one exemplified that more than Shaun.”
So much police “nobility” and “sacrifice.” So little “right to be let alone.” Not a hint that “a man’s home is his castle.”
It would be cynical to observe that the transformation of Diamond’s death from a very personal tragedy into a very public one is a form of propaganda. Only a couple of decades ago, journalists were expected to be cynical but nobody in Los Angeles now seems willing to take a cynical look at the circumstances of Diamond’s death. As American police and the American military become inexorably woven into one cloth it has become close to treason to question what militarized police, like Diamond, were really up to when they broke in Martinez door at four o’clock in the morning. Or why they threw explosives in his front door. Or if Diamond might still be alive if the warrant hadn’t been served by Swat.
Or how it was that Diamond got shot in the back of the head by a man standing in front of him. The latest version of that is that Diamond was bending over with his head between his legs trying to pry open Martinez’ door when he was shot.
For the time being this remains a story about “outlaw motorcycle gangs.” This is not yet a story about Swat.