Oh Captain, My Captain

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Robin Williams

The world lost a real treasure yesterday. Robin Williams gave us the gift of countless verses, of howls of hilarity, gleeful giggles and even snort-inducing snickers. For the laughs, I'll be forever grateful.

But he also had the ability to get truly serious, and to bring us to tears. His performances in Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire and even the under-appreciated Jumanji are among my favorites. But there were so many more thought-provoking, risk-taking roles (What Dreams May Come comes to mind) that made up the wealth of work he'll leave behind and insure that, to those of us who never had the privilege of meeting him, he'll live on forever.

I've battled depression since adolescence. I talk about it occasionally on the show because we need to remove the stigma associated with it. I know that Robin Williams battled those demons and, with them, drug addiction - a deadly combination. I only hope that he can now rest in peace.

Today, during our "Gliberal Goddesses" segment, GottaLaff, Amy Simon and I talked about the genius that was Robin Williams. I, as a fan; Amy, as an improv artist who met him once; and Laffy as someone who worked with him in an improv group in LA before he shot to stardom as our favorite Alien, Mork from the planet Ork.

In the first hour, after sharing my thoughts about our collective loss, I spoke about the madness unfolding in Ferguson, MO, where a town is grieving its own tragic loss of an 18 year old at the hands of one who should have been protecting him.

Instead, in what's looking more and more like murder and a cover-up, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed Michael Brown. Of the two stories that have emerged about the shooting, the one told by Dorin Johnson, who was walking with Brown at the time, is the more credible.

“Me and my friend was walking down the street in the middle of the street. And we wasn’t causing any harm to nobody. We had no weapons on us at all. … A police officer squad car pulled up and when he pulled up these were his exact words: ‘Get the F on the sidewalk.’ … He reversed his … car in a manner to where it almost hit us. … He tried to brush his door open but he was so close to us that it ricocheted off us and it bounced back to him, and I guess that, you know, got him a little upset. And at that time ... he didn’t get out the car, he just reached his arm out the window and grabbed my friend around his neck and … as he was trying to choke my friend, he was trying to get away, and the officer then reached out and he grabbed his arm to pull him into the car. … His weapon was drawn and he said, ‘I’ll shoot you’ or ‘I’m going to shoot,’ and in the same moment the first shot went off. And we looked at him, he was shot, and there was blood coming from him, and we took off running, and as we took off running, I ducked and hid for my life because I was afraid for my life … . My friend kept running and he told me to keep running because he feared for me, too. So, as he was running, the officer was trying to get out of the car and once he got out the car he pursued my friend, but his weapon was drawn. Now, he didn’t see any weapon drawn at him or anything like that. I was going for no weapon. His weapon was already drawn when he got out the car. He shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air and he started to get down but the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and he fired several more shots, and my friend died. He didn’t say anything to him, he just stood over and was shooting.”

Dorian Johnson spoke with Chris Hayes last night on MSNBC's All In:

The police- via St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar- are pushing a different story.

“Yesterday about noon in the 2900 block of Canfield, a Ferguson police officer had an encounter with two individuals on the street. In fact, one of those individuals … allegedly pushed the police officer back into the car where he physically assaulted the police officer. It is our understanding at this point in the investigation that within the police car there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon. There was at least one shot fired within the car. After that the officer went back, came back out of the car, he exited his vehicle, and there was a shooting that occurred where the officer in fact shot the subject, and … they were fatal injuries. The entire scene from approximately the car door to the shooting is about 35 feet. There were shell casings recovered, the shell casings are all matched to one weapon, that’s the officer’s weapon. There were more than a few shell casings recovered. I cannot say at this time how many times the subject was struck by gunfire. It’s hard to know, it was more than just a couple but I don’t think it was many more than that.”

Protests and clashes between police and protesters continue, as police have still not released the identity of the officer who shot Michael Brown. This is far from over.

This morning, I spoke with George Sheldon, candidate for Attorney General of Florida.  I asked him about the situation in Ferguson and the seeming rise in police militarization and violence, as well as Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The primary is two weeks from today.

We'll be back tomorrow with Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars, and whatever else the day brings. Stay safe and hug your loved ones, and I'll talk to you tomorrow, radio or not...

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  • paullwolborsky

    I am angry at Robin Williams for hanging himself, not because it deprives me of his talent and genius, but because he left that horror for his family to discover. I've heard of his kindness, and he has done many acts of kindness in his life, and I liked him, alot.

    But it irritates me that people say it's so unbelievable. C'mon! He could've gotten run over by a bus, shot in a drive-by, suffered a heart attack or stroke, or slip and fall in the bathroom. His genius is no shield against nature, we are all in that same leaky boat.

    What makes this sad and terrible is that he hanged himself and traumatized the people that cared about him most. Regrettable. We all make mistakes, and sometimes, people make that final mistake. So, I appreciate his talent, recognize his genius and humanity, forgive him a little bit for being human and anguished and out-of-whack because of out-of-whacked brain chemistry, but there is no excuse for having loved ones find THAT when they got home.