It’s the inspirational story that turned into a nightmare.
Oscar Pistorius, also known as the “Blade Runner,” has defied all odds. After having both of his legs amputated below the knee as a toddler, Pistorius became a runner in the Paralympic Games and the 2012 Olympics in London, where he made history.
In front of thousands of fans and cameras, he sprinted 400 meters in 45.44 seconds, becoming the first double amputee to race in the Olympic Games. He inspired other handicapped people with his determination, athleticism and positive outlook. He was a role model and a hero in the eyes of many sports fans and non-sports fans alike.
Then, on Valentine’s Day of 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the bathroom door of his South African home.
Suddenly we learned he was fond of fast cars and guns, and had gotten in trouble before for assault and multiple gun-related charges. It’s frustrating when someone you think is a hero turns out to be a villain. Unfortunately it happens frequently in our society.
Pistorius admitted to killing Steenkamp but said he thought she was an intruder. If he woke up, heard someone in the bathroom and realized she was missing from the bed, the next logical step would be to assume she was the person in the bathroom.
This simple fact proves he knew it was Steenkamp in the bathroom and decided to shoot anyway.
On the contrary, he testified that he didn’t realize it was Steenkamp. He also testified that he didn’t have his prosthetics on that night, so he felt vulnerable and in danger as he hobbled around with his gun, afraid he would be overpowered.
He used his disability as his defense.
That in itself, no matter what he did or didn’t do with a gun, is wrong. Yes, he has to live life differently than most people, and he does have worries that most able people wouldn’t even think about, but he can’t use that as a defense for killing someone. On top of this, he has already proved to the world how athletic and strong he is, so it doesn’t seem likely that he would have a fear of being overpowered.
The judge found him negligent in Steenkamp’s death but said Pistorius did not commit the murder, nor did he intend to kill her. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
In October of 2015, one year into his five-year sentence, Pistorius was released from prison and sentenced to four years of strict house arrest at a relative’s house to finish his time. His release falls under South Africa’s Correctional Services Act, which allows convicted criminals who have served one-sixth of their sentence to serve the remainder under house arrest.
This story is wrong in many ways. Morally, it causes me to cringe at how Pistorius lived his life outside of the spotlight. Logically, it frustrates me because the story doesn’t add up–and that’s a sign of guilt. Criminally, this case makes me question my beliefs in justice systems around the world. Too many cases like this occur where the killer goes free fairly easily.
The news of his release means Steenkamp won’t be given the justice she deserves. I don’t know whether Pistorius was given special treatment because of his status as an athlete and celebrity. I hope he wasn’t. I do know that he let down many people who were rooting for him and has once again proved why professional athletes are not always good role models.
In four years, Oscar Pistorius will walk free. The same cannot be said for Steenkamp.