KC cops couldn't have predicted Belcher disaster
The Kansas City Star
News that Jovan Belcher was legally drunk when he fatally shot his girlfriend on Dec. 1 raises questions about why Kansas City police officers gave Belcher a free pass when they found him sleeping in a car on Armour Boulevard around 3 a.m., several hours before he killed Kasandra Perkins.
Police said they smelled no alcohol on Belcher and while they originally thought he seemed disoriented, he became more coherent as they talked. They settled for allowing him to go into the apartment building where, apparently, another girlfriend lived.
Belcher drove to the practice facility at Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself after murdering Perkins. An autopsy shows his blood alcohol level was .17.
Before we get too outraged about this, a few things are worth considering. First, Belcher may have had more to drink in the interlude between his encounter with police and his arrival at the home he shared with Perkins.
But even if he hadn’t, all police officers saw was a man sleeping in a Bentley. They didn’t observe him driving the vehicle. Being intoxicated in a parked car isn’t grounds for arrest.
And even if officers had found some cause to arrest Belcher, he would have been a low priority. There was no indication at 3 a.m. that he was a major threat to public safety. He had no outstanding warrants. He was polite and coherent with officers and some people in the apartment building let him inside.
Keep in mind that it often takes an hour or more for police to arrest somebody and book the person. There is paperwork involved and a trip to the jail in the downtown police headquarters. Officers have to weigh whether the public is better served by booking a person or simply getting them into a relatively safe place.
In Belcher’s case, all police knew is that some neighbors were worried about a guy sleeping in a car. They got him out of the car and inside a building. It would be nice if cops had the ability to predict disaster four or five hours down the road, but they don’t, any more than the rest of us.