Criminal Justice

Mississippi Cops Kill Baby in Barrage of Gunfire

Plus: Florida's cronyist social media bill, who corporate tax increases really hurt, and more...

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As if we need any more evidence of police officers being reckless with human life, here's an especially horrifying story out of Mississippi and Louisiana. Police shot more than 20 bullets at a car in which they knew there was a four-month-old baby, killing the child along with his father, Eric Derell Smith.

Smith, of Baton Rouge, was suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend's nephew and his ex-girlfriend and fleeing with the couple's child on Monday. "Our top priority is locating that child safely," East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said in a press release.

Police did eventually locate the child safely.

Then they killed him.

Authorities had been notified that Smith was driving east on I-10 near Gulfport, Mississippi, prompting police from Gulfport, the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, and Mississippi Highway Patrol to begin chasing him. After Smith drove into a highway median and got stuck, police began shooting.

Another motorist, Patrisha Ramos, took a video of the incident:

"That baby didn't have a chance at all in that situation and it's terrible," Ramos told WLOX. "At least give the person in the car either a chance to get out or surrender or something. Especially if there was an innocent life in that car."

According to a press release from the Biloxi Police Department, Smith was exiting his car when police started shooting. Yet this isn't apparent from the video.

"It's possible that the driver—the baby's father who has just kidnapped the baby after murdering the mother/ex and her relative—shot at the cops. The video is unclear," tweeted Fordham University law professor John Pfaff. "But they KNEW the baby was there. They are supposed to be trained for this. A 20-shot fusillade? At a hostage?"

In typical fashion, some media outlets have refused to assign agency or blame for the child's death to law enforcement. "Baby in suspect's car during I-10 police pursuit dies," read a Biloxi Sun Herald headline. "A murder suspect and his kidnapped baby son die after police shootout in Mississippi," reported CNN.

"A baby boy died from injuries suffered when Mississippi police gunned down his murder-suspect father," NBC News tweeted, sharing an article titled "Baby boy killed during attempted arrest in Mississippi."


FREE MINDS

Florida passes an unconstitutional and biased social media bill. Reason's Scott Shackford highlights a bit of cronyism at its worst:

Florida lawmakers have done Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' bidding by passing a bill that would forbid social media companies from deplatforming candidates who are running for office. But an exception tossed in the bill to exempt certain major companies like Disney and Comcast highlights the bill's many legal and constitutional issues.


FREE MARKETS

Corporate tax increase targets small businesses and workers, too. While campaigning, President Joe Biden pledged not to raise taxes on small businesses. But now, "Biden is pushing a series of tax increases that raise small business taxes," notes John Kartch of Americans for Tax Reform. For instance, "Biden's corporate income tax rate hike from 21 percent to 28 percent targets one million small businesses across the country organized as corporations," Kartch points out:

As noted by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S. Of those, 25.7 million have no employees, while 6 million have employees. Of these 6 million small employers, 16.8 percent, or 1 million of these businesses are classified as c-corporations. The SBA classifies a small employer as any independent business with fewer than 500 employees.

Biden claims his spending plan makes large corporations pay their "fair share." However, the plan will raise taxes on many small businesses that are structured as corporations.

As National Federation of Independent Business Vice President for Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman told CNBC:

…There are big concerns about the C corp issue for the smallest corporations because the corporate tax hike is not being discussed in terms that would be graduated for smaller companies with lower levels of income.

"The target here is the largest corporations, many listed as paying no corporate tax, but the problem with that is that two-thirds or even more than that of corporations are small businesses," Kuhlman said, noting that the majority of C corps have receipts of less than $1 million.

Corporate taxes in general may amount to taxes on the lower- and middle-income workers, not just wealthy shareholders. "The puzzle to me about the entire debate is just how quickly the corporate tax got mired in this issue of fairness when we know the [effect] is so unclear," Harvard Business School professor Mihir A. Desai told The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Desai said lawmakers concerned about income distribution should focus more on assisting poorer households and less on raising corporate taxes that could slow investment.

Even models that show most of the corporate tax burden falling on capital affect middle-income households with retirement funds. They also show a modest longer-term effect on workers.

The bottom 80% of households pay more than one-quarter of corporate taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center. The Biden administration, which says it won't raise taxes on households making under $400,000, doesn't consider those effects as breaking its pledge.


QUICK HITS

• "In 1970, about 36% of federal spending, net of interest payments, was benefits to individuals—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (new programs at the time), unemployment compensation, means-tested welfare benefits," notes Christopher DeMuth, a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute. "Benefits spending then grew mightily, roughly in tandem with deficit spending, and is now about 76% of spending, heading briskly toward 80%."

• South Carolina is bringing back death by firing squad.

• A federal appeals court is considering whether 18- to 20-year-olds should have the right to buy a gun.

• An extremist abortion law has cleared the Texas House:

• "The number of deportations carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month fell to the lowest monthly level on record, a drop that comes as illegal border crossings remain at a 20-year high," The Washington Post reports.

Reason's Jacob Sullum tackles the Supreme Court's crack versus cocaine sentencing disparity case.