In this past week, two men were killed by police on video. Yesterday, a sniper killed five Dallas police officers.
This shit has to stop.
I am going to give some initial commentary on the two men who were killed by police. First, however, I am going to tell you things you may or may not know in your brain, you need to know these things in your heart. I have spoken multiple times about the function of the police, this time I am speaking about the person behind the badge.
- A police officer is a human being. This means they are imperfect and can make mistakes. They have the same day-to-day stresses and problems that you and I have.
- This officer wants to serve his community. You don't go through a police academy and then strap on body armor as part of your work clothes on a whim.
- They want to go home at the end of their shift. This means that they will do whatever to protect themselves as best they can.
- Officers are trained to establish control in every encounter. If the officer loses control of a situation, there is a good chance they will be killed. They do this to protect themselves and others. The police also cannot lose a fight, ever. If an officer loses a fight, other officers may pay the price.
- With every encounter, the officer takes his life in his hands. a 90 year-old white lady can pull a gun just as fast and render that officer just as dead as a 16 year-old black male. The officer doesn't know if you and your family are out for a drive with your family, or if you and your girlfriend just knocked over a liquor store with the baby sleeping in the car.
- When it all goes south, when the fists and bullets start flying, the officer will take it from both sides. From the criminal who wants to kill him, and his political superiors who have the luxury to parse every millisecond of the encounter from their easy chairs. The criminal can only take the officers life. The politician can take his livelihood, his character and his dignity.
Take these to heart.
In both of these cases, not all the facts are out yet. I am commenting on what I do know and what I can infer from what has been presented.
The first man to die, Alton Sterling, was well known to the Baton Rouge PD. Although the officers who responded to the call didn't know Alton, he (Alton) knew he had an 18+ year record and he was wanted for failure to register as a sex offender. People in that kind of position do not welcome any kind of police encounter and will do anything to get out of that situation. This led to a scuffle, then a fight. When you start to be aggressive with the police, there will be an immediate escalation on their part.
It is currently unknown why the officer drew his weapon and shot the man. I'm sure something will come out about what happened.
For the other man, Philando Castile, this man is a polar opposite from Alton Sterling. It sounds like Philando was a fine young man, an upstanding member of his community. It seems his mistake was too much enthusiasm. It seems Philando initially did the right thing, which was to inform the officer up front that he had a weapon. The evidence is currently unclear, but having legally carried a weapon in the past, I am conjecturing that Philando reached for his wallet quickly and/or without the officer telling him to do so. When a person who has a weapon rapidly and without direct orders moves their dominant hand to their hip, it can be for a wallet or a weapon. The officer can only think it can be for a weapon, else the officer will be dead. I can move my hand from the steering wheel, grab the weapon on my hip, clear the holster, bring it to bear on the officer and fire in less than 0.75 seconds. Say this out loud, "one one-thou-" because that's all you're going to get out before I put a bullet in you. At arms length, the officer can only react and that will likely be too late.
In response to these tragic events, a lone gunman decided to shoot multiple people, killing 5 Dallas police officers. Officers who were providing security for a Black Lives Matter rally. You know, where they shout about wanting dead police officers.
I am sad. Sad for both Alton and Philando as well as the wounded and killed in Dalas.