Two men. Two separate but recent incidents. One of the men is dead, the other alive. The dead one held a cap pistol. The living held a knife. Both were surrounded and outnumbered by far more heavily armed law enforcement. One was outlined in chalk. The other is still being sought.
Their respective stories are linked above.
I’ll admit it. It’s easy for me as an easy armchair critic from the comfort of my computer armed only with an early morning cup of coffee to question why there should be, in the very, very late darkness of the literal midnight hour, chalk marks outlining a body of a once local resident shot dead by police when, as it turned out, all he was holding at the time as it turned out later – albeit realistic – was a cap pistol. After all it was dark. It was a gun. Guns kill.
The consequence was clear, crisp, uncomplicated, hard-core. Predictable even.
Chances are the victim had a girlfriend; and certainly – at one time anyway – a mother and a father; brothers and sisters maybe. Maybe even children. Maybe he was despondent. Maybe he had untreated mental and emotional issues. What did we really know about him? That, according to police reports, he had a record. Maybe he was a scumbag. We do know that he’s dead. And that it’s being looked into.
Suicide by cop?
“You don’t have to be a physicist or a doctor to know what’s coming when you see somebody step in front of a freight train,” writes David M. Kennedy in his book “Don’t Shoot.” And a guy brandishing a gun – especially when told repeatedly to drop it – is likely to meet a similar fate. “Peace through superior firepower,” the worldview of Dan Gerard, Cincinnati Police Department.
Problem solved. Lesson learned. Stay off the tracks. Drop your gun. Or else there will be absolutely sure and certain consequences. “Gunplay? We win, you lose.” Zero-tolerance policing. Pull a weapon, pay the price. We’ll bring out the biggest tool in our toolbox. Confrontational. Even crude. But effective. Message delivered. The good guys got the bad guy.
Besides, what’s the alternative? Smoke ‘em out? Wait ‘em out? Negotiate? A stand-off? All wasted resources. And the streets learn what? That they can get away with it: “hug-a-thug.”
Maybe, like so often happens in such terminal cases, questions raised as to procedure are judged as unfair accusations against wrongly identified perpetrators. The police are not the problem here. The fellow, after all, was “corrupt, hollow and beyond hope” – commonly heard says Kennedy when communities and law enforcement clash. “Law enforcement is indifferent and deliberately implementing a genocidal conspiracy.” Both, as Kennedy says, are “not true.”
But, don’t shoot and maybe the guy gets what he deserves – jail time for crimes committed and then “remedial education, job training, job placement, maybe drug treatment. The real basics: good clothes, counseling on how to do a resume, how to do an interview, how to dress, transportation.”
For one of the individuals above there is hope. For the other, there is not.