When trouble knocks

Wilfredo Gonzales, the dismissed cop whose appearance in a press conference called by Police Brig. Gen. Nicolas Torre III led to the latter’s resignation as Quezon City Police District chief, has had a one-on-one interview with Anthony “Ka Tunying” Taberna.

Gonzales has been invited by the Senate to appear in its investigation of that 8 August incident which was caught on video showing him hitting and then cocking a gun on a cyclist.

Feeling the heat, the original poster of the video has since deleted it, maybe to his or her regret, as copies of the footage have been racking up thousands of views.

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said last week that, if need be, they’d issue a subpoena to Gonzales if he would not show up at the Senate. There should be no reason for Gonzales not to appear before the Senate, even if people deride congressional probes as circus events that rarely result in laws being passed.

Gonzales has appeared with Torre and now with Taberna, so it should be easier for him to talk about his version of the story — but this time under oath. Or it may be harder since he cannot deviate from what he has already said.

At any rate, Gonzales’ own children have given him sound advice to speak his truth, and he should follow this tact to try and stem the public opinion against him. He, however, should steel himself as the lawmakers will not handle him with kid gloves but would challenge his narration at every turn.

As a dismissed policeman, Gonzales would get little sympathy from the senators, who have been skewering active-duty police officers over the Navotas shooting of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar and many other incidents highlighting police incompetence.

In that Ka Tunying interview prefaced and concluded with what we call in Philosophy 101 argumentum ad misericordia, or an appeal to pity or emotion, Gonzales painted himself as an old, sickly man who had just undergone an operation.

Narrating, supposedly from beginning to end, his encounter with the cyclist, Gonzales put across the point that, as a senior citizen with a heart ailment that would necessitate a bypass operation, he felt sufficiently threatened to draw and cock his gun.

Against a young cyclist who, prior to the gun-cocking episode, allegedly bumped his car and dented it by hitting it with knuckled (metal or plastic) rider’s gloves, Gonzales may have been laying down the predicate for self-defense.

Or, at the very least, Gonzales may be trying to make people understand beyond what was caught on video that the cyclist, who he said reeked of liquor and who boasted of being a member of that “birdie” brotherhood, was very combative before the gun scene.

Still, there can be no claim of self-defense on the part of Gonzales, even with the justifications he cited, or especially with the course of actions he said he undertook after the cyclist bumped his car, dented it, and then sped away while cursing and giving him the dirty finger.

It’s clear from Gonzales’ story that he actively sought out the cyclist to confront him instead of just going his own way. Easier said than done, though, as anger and a bruised ego can sometimes get the better of even the most emotionally stable person.

It was a decision — to go chase the cyclist — that Gonzales may want to be given the chance to undo, to de-escalate the situation, and not be mired in the controversy he has found himself in.

But as Torre himself said in a congressional investigation about his Gonzales press caper — where he was perceived to have provided the ex-cop the platform to present a one-sided story — hindsight is always crystal clear.

Meanwhile, it’s not Gonzales’ fault that the narrative is turning out to be one-sided, including with that Taberna interview, because he’s the only one coming out in the open to speak. The cyclist himself has chosen to move on from this incident, and that’s his right to do so.

For all of us, there’s a simple lesson here: When trouble comes knocking, bolt that door shut.

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