Why do good cops excuse misdeeds of bad ones?

Story highlights

  • Issac Bailey: Too often police get away with wrongdoing, often because their fellow officers don't step forward
  • Officers are almost never held criminally accountable for the wrong they commit in uniform, he says

Issac Bailey has been a journalist in South Carolina for the past two decades and was most recently the primary columnist for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. He was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman Fellow. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)In Chicago, they watched as 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was executed in the middle of the street and did nothing. They felt no compunction to come forward to assure that justice be done. They used official reports to cover up what happened.

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, they paralyzed a man while shooting at him several times in his small apartment, claiming they fired on him because he shot first. They said they knocked on his door and identified themselves. But after an independent prosecutor found that the man, suspected of selling small amounts of marijuana, had not fired a shot, they changed their story, insisting that he pointed a gun at them, something the victim disputes. A video of the officers entering the apartment doesn't show them knocking before ramming the man's door down; an eyewitness said they didn't identify themselves first.