Police Shootings Only News if on Video

Police ShootingSteven D over at Booman Tribune alerted me, Unarmed Black Man Shot By Cops, Again. It is about Jarame C Reid who was killed during a traffic stop in Bridgeton, NJ — in which he was just the passenger. It happened back on 30 December, but it is getting attention how because the police dashboard camera video was just released. And it shows that Reid was shot while he was apparently unarmed with his hands raised over his head.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t watched the video. I’m not going to watch the video. Things like that are extremely upsetting regardless of the circumstances. But according to all the reporting, the video is clear. Steven D added, “You can hear anxiety, anger and fear in the voices of the police…” And I figure that’s what happened here. Police, like all people, get themselves worked up. Emotionally, they are on a hair trigger and unfortunately, they have guns. This is not to apologize for the officers, but I can well see how such a thing could happen without the officers being psychopaths.

What bothers me in all this is that the shooting was not really a story for three weeks. There were witnesses who said that Reid was shot while unarmed and with his hands up. But that didn’t much matter — especially after Michael Brown, and what was a farce of a grand jury and the resulting media narrative that claimed that such eyewitnesses were lying, when they were contradicted only by the officer and one clearly deranged racist who almost certainly wasn’t there. So I can understand why the media is reluctant to report on yet another case where the police kill an unarmed black man who had his hands raised.

Is this where we are as a society? Can the police kill any black man with a crowd of ten thousand witnesses, and have it be no story? That is: it is no story unless there is video footage of the incident? That certainly seems to be the case. Certainly, Eric Garner’s death would have been nothing at all if it hadn’t been for the video. And even with the video, there was no indictment. And I seriously doubt there will be an indictment in Reid’s case. Because it can’t be the officers’ fault because it is never the officers’ fault because they were afraid and their jobs are so dangerous. Also: a police officer’s word is always golden because they would never lie — not even when it is very much in their interests to do so.

We have a really bad situation in this country. And it is bizarre. The same people who are convinced that they must hold onto their guns or Obama will send the black helicopters after them, believe that local law enforcement officers are above the law. But even apart from these freaks, white America needs to wake up. This may be primarily a problem in minority communities where it seems that the police are constantly in fear of their lives. But that kind of thing grows. Nothing I’ve seen indicates that the police will stop being pussies. With every police shooting, all we hear is about what heroes most officers are and how dangerous their jobs are and how we should just be happy they don’t go door to door killing the first born son of every family.

So I understand how it happens that police officers allow situations to escalate, become fearful, and then use deadly force. But I don’t think that makes it acceptable. It’s like how abusing children can make them violent adults. I understand, but that doesn’t excuse it. I still think murderers should be punished. As a society, we can’t continue to excuse misbehavior and incompetence on the part of our police. The stakes are too high.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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