To follow Order or Not?
The Danger of Following Orders
Ex-Rikers Officials Get Prison Time.
This is a real event, culled from a Sept 17 article in the Wallstreet Journal. Page A13.
The similarity between what occurs in my futuristic story and what happened here amazed even me.
Two high-ranking Rikers Island supervisors were sentenced to prison for ordering the beating of an inmate whose eye sockets and nose were broken when correction officers stomped on his face.
The reason: The inmate had locked eyes with the Asst. Chief of Security and he evidently doesn’t like that. So his captain told his officers to “f— him up.” And they obeyed his order.
In Scavenger’s Mission, A rogue captain tells his squad to stall Alisha out 300 feet over the ridge. Her crime? She failed to give him the respect he wanted and she refused to come to his bed to prove her contrition. In her case, she would be dead now, if not for some incredible flying skills.
In the REAL case:
The prisoner, Mr. Lightfoot was eventually released from prison in 2014. The paper doesn’t say if he fully recovered. But he was able to attend the court hearing.
The WSJ story focuses on the NY State Supreme Court Justice’s perspective of when to and not follow orders.
The lawyers for the Asst. Chief of Security tried to make him look like a hero and when that didn’t seem to be working, went for the “inmates wouldn’t be nice to him” pity plea, saying he’d have to serve his time in protective custody. (I hope they actually meant solitude confinement.)
The judge ordered two officers to perform 500 hours of community service related to the cover-up attempt after the incident. Another officer was acquitted and a retired officer will be tried separately.
As for the real criminals: The Asst. Chief got 6.5 years, the captain got 5.5 years.
The four officers that actually carried out the attack got 4.5 years, despite claiming they were just following orders.
So what do you think? In my story, Alisha’s crewmembers nearly kill her, because they know if they don’t do what DC wants, he’ll kill them.
Did these officers feel the same danger, or did they enjoy being unleashed to brutally attack a prisoner?
Without question, the Asst. Chief and the Captain who gave the orders got reasonable sentences. But what about the four who follow bad orders? Without more details, I’m not sure which way I think it should go.
By Liza O’Connor
Meet Alisha: A young woman who refuses to live the life her parents want.
In a single month, Alisha Kane has gone from a wealthy debutante to street girl to scavenger. While testing her new flying skills in the Cully Canyon, Alisha incurs a near-death crash landing. She’s “rescued” by a colonel of the SkyRyders and her life changes forever.
Meet Logan: A SkyRyder colonel in charge of a sleepy fort with little to do other than arrests the occasional scavenger.
For the first time in his life, Logan’s attracted to a young woman, only she’s probably a scavenger and he’ll have to arrest her. But first he offers her a shower and food while he checks on his crew. His videographer has captured her extraordinary flight through the Cully and her flying is astounding!
He forgoes arresting her and puts his career at risk by asking MAC to assess her skills and integrity as a potential SkyRyder. If he can get Alisha into the SkyRyders, it will be his greatest contribution to the Corps.
Meet MAC: The Artificial Intelligence that runs the SkyRyders Corps.
Upon seeing her arrival, MAC upgrades Alisha’s test. Her flying skills are not just excellent; they exceed what was previously thought possible. MAC classifies her as its top asset and soon she proves her value.
But…the SkyRyders remain a male dominated Corps where Alisha’s sense of right and wrong often clashes with her superiors. How long can a rebellious young woman survive in a regimented Corps?
“Colonel, I don’t want to lose Ollie over this. He’s turning himself around so well,” Alisha said.
Logan stared at her. “I think Ollie has sealed his own fate in this matter,” the colonel said, his voice hard and unforgiving.
“Not if he was following orders.” The colonel quoted her Reg 13.356—Soldiers are exempt from following an unreasonable order if doing so will result in the death of another Ryder.
Wasn’t that exactly what she had done yesterday? Yet neither the colonel nor Jack had mentioned that reg when they drilled into her head a Ryder must always follow orders—no exceptions. Suddenly there were exceptions. Her disobedience wasn’t against the regs at all. In fact, obeying the general’s order would have been in violation of Reg 13.356, for had she remained grounded, Philly would have died. Even as she was about to declare this, she recognized a flaw in the law. Generals sent Ryders to their deaths every day. Clearly, Reg 13.356 did not exempt soldiers from fighting in a battle, so the keywords were “unreasonable orders”. How the hell was a soldier to decide what was reasonable or unreasonable? She had thought the general’s grounding was unreasonable, but clearly, Jack and the colonel did not.
“I imagine this reg must cause great difficulty in practice, for how do you define an unreasonable order?”
“It does,” Logan admitted. “However, a captain ordering the murder of one of his crew clearly falls into the ‘unreasonable’ category.”
She didn’t accept his high moral ground. This wasn’t a regulation for a soldier to use as a guide. It was a tool of punishment after the soldier followed orders. This was hypocrisy at its worst. What concerned her most was that the colonel approved of it. She needed him to see the wrongness of this reg. If he couldn’t, then he was no better than the men who’d written it.
Her disappointment grew as he tried to wash his hands of the problem, claiming it wasn’t his decision.
“But you’ll have a say,” she insisted. “You’ll have a side to come down on, and if that side is punishing Ollie for following orders…” Then what? she asked herself. What do I do when the man I love and respect turns out to be no better than my parents?
“You want me to defend the person who tried to kill you?”
Was he blinded by his need to protect her? Holding onto that possibility, Alisha continued the argument. A part of her just wanted to quit the Corps, run away, and go back working with the scavengers. Right now, they looked quite honorable in comparison to the Ryders. Upon taking a deep breath, she decided to try once more, this time pulling no punches. If he still refused to see reason, she would leave.
“I want you to defend your crewman for following his captain’s orders. This is not his fault. It’s yours. You allowed an unreasonable captain to command him.”
She could tell her words hurt him. His head dropped, and he stared at his feet for several minutes before he finally spoke. “I’ll do all I can to save Ollie.”
The SkyRyder’s Series, Book 1
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About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.
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