Man Who Ambushed Cops May Have Used Protests To Justify His Actions

December 23, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

Though the NYPD was quick to criticize protesters after a man shot and killed two NYPD officers on Saturday afternoon before killing himself, the details slowly emerging suggest that the killer “was neither a political activist nor a psychotic madman” reports the New York Times.

FBI stats dating back to 1945 indicate that about 70 officers die annually from assaults, 20 percent of which happen like Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s, without provocation. Psychologists that the Times spoke to described the types of disturbed people who commit these crimes: they tend to be antigovernment, anti-social, have little empathy for others, and want to attack people in positions of authority.

Based on his recent social media posts, it seems that Brinsley was similarly anti-“the system.” But in recent weeks, he saw the protests as a way to justify his disturbed desires:

Weeks ago, Mr. Brinsley posted on social media a call to action, under the banner of the “Burn the Flag Challenge.” He wrote: “Let’s Ruffle Some Feathers And Take It Into Our Own Hands And Make Them Watch In Horror As We Burn What They Represent.” This appears to be an expression of general outrage against “the system,” rather than a specific threat against police, experts said.

Later, he posted messages on Instagram implying that he was angry over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases — as if wrapping his personal anger in calls for social justice and police restraint.

“All the publicity about the Garner and Brown situations has created a whirlwind in the community, and maybe it gave this guy a rationale to act on his paranoia and sense of grievance,” said Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist in New York. “It gave him a justification for doing what he wanted to do anyway.”

As New York continues to mourn the death of the two officers Brinsley killed, it is important to keep in mind that the protests are aligned with justice, and not against it. The Times report suggests that the heinous actions of a man made in the name of unarmed men was a way to justify his own deranged thoughts, and not the other way around.