Crime and Prejudice

Let’s start from the end. The police man walked out of the room. And left me there — alone — with my thoughts. He got me surprised. And made me to feel — if not guilty — at least, uneasy. Eight pairs of eyes were staring at me from the pictures carefully placed on the desk. I looked at their cloths, or the part of them I could see. A man was wearing a shirt with some stains on it, another had a cheap tie. Two of them had bright hair, the others being of darker complexion. I had to take a decision.
And it was not an easy one.

In the heat of the moment

I walked in the police office, that morning, following an official invitation by a detective I never met before. In my work as ambulance driver it happened often to interact with police officers. Most of the times, we had to intervene together on traffic accidents. Some other times on crime scenes: assaults, rapes, suicides, attempted murders, and even murder cases.

This time, I had to be interviewed about a minor case. I will not write any detail, but it was not a case of violence. No one got harmed. It was something closer to a traffic violation, occurred a month before. And maybe some inappropriate name had been addressed to a public officer, in the heat of the moment.

Maybe you will remember

I remembered the episode. I answered all the questions, and described what I saw. However, when I have been asked to identify the offender among those eight pictures, my memory blanked. The pictures were very poorly taken, of a small size, and in black and white. For hard I could try, I could not recognize any of them.

The detective did not seem too happy. He insisted I had to point a person — for long it could take for me to do so. His tone of voice was not friendly. As if suddenly he thought I was covering up the guy. But honestly, they looked all unfamiliar. After some long minutes, the police man stud up. And these have been his words, in a more persuasive tone of voice: “I will leave you alone for some time, so you can focus. You know, maybe you will remember he had mustaches.

A shadow in my mind

Said so, the cop left the room. And there I was, with 7 pictures of men without any facial hair. And a lonely picture of a guy with thin black mustaches. My eyes focused on him. Oh, yes, yes, it is him, now I remember. Of course. The picture is bad, but it was definitively him.

But. But, with a shadow of horror in my mind, I asked myself: am I sure? Yes, now I am sure. But, would I have been able to identify this man without the police detective tipping me off? Maybe. Or maybe not. Yes, now I know it was this guy here. However, was it ethical? What should be my position now? Should I testify that this guy owning a pair of thin mustaches was the offender (because I know he was the one!) or should I say that I did not recognized him — lying, but not accepting the unethical suggestion of the detective?

I heard his steps, and there the police officer was again standing in front of me.
Waiting for an answer.

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