I’ve tried to mostly skirt around political and social issues here at my blog. I’m at ground zero for this one however, and my readers here in the U.S. at least are likely to hear a TON of misinformation and half truths here. That being the case, I want to tell you all what I’ve seen, read and learned here.
For those who might not have heard (ie readers in Europe and Asia), Stephon Clark was a young black man who was shot to death by police on the 18th of March last year. The District Attorney finally revealed yesterday that there would be no charges against the officers who shot him (one of whom was also black). This all happened after he was suspected (have to be careful with my legal terms since I’m not sure the police copter night optics actually caught him in the act), of roaming through a neighborhood breaking windows.
If you listen to most news sources, it was a straight out execution. Here’s reality; he ran from the police copter and officers on foot. He fled until he was cornered in a completely dark back yard, turned with something in his hand, and police opened fire. The incident was made worse by the facts that it turned out the object in his hand was a cell phone, and the yard was his grandmother’s
Again, the was a tragedy. No two ways about it. My (deceased) dad having been a cop though, I can tell you all exactly how this went sideways. Plain and simple, he ran into a dark area where the officers could barely see what was going on, AND he had that phone in his hand… again in an area dark enough that the officers couldn’t see what it was.
Officers end up in situations exactly like this all the time where the suspect will turn around and pull a gun or knife. They have a fraction of a second to decide if their lives are in danger or not. That’s literally how long it takes to raise a gun and shoot. In a well-lit area, things would have hopefully turned out differently. The simple reality is, no matter how bad you THINK cops are, NOTHING good is going to come from running from them.
I’m white, and as milktoast looking as they come and I’ve still had cops make defensive moves on me. Most recently, I got pulled over for a tail light being out. I went to open the glove box to look for my proof of insurance, and the officer had his flashlight on the glove box and his other hand did move to his service weapon. He never drew it, but he was ready, just in case. Alot of cops get shot at that way. If I’d been thinking clearly, I’d have told him what I was doing first, and moved a little slower.
So, today the DA released their decision not to prosecute the officers, along with several text messages to his baby mamma, along with emails and internet searches. It’s being decried as callous, etc… but those texts and other info back up the official medical examiner’s autopsy that he was high on various drugs, and also apparently had been suicidal shortly before his death. He was apparently having major relationship issues with his baby mamma.
She is understandably upset over the release and possibly feels like the DA’s office is trying to shift at least some blame onto her. Nobody can make the judgment that she has any kind of fault however, because nobody knows the real state of their relationship at the time, or the stresses either of them was under.
If anything, I think the BIG take away from this whole tragedy is that we need better mental health care in this country. Maybe if he had counseling, this never would have happened.
As for the police… It’s hard to say if they could have done or said anything different before the chase that might have de-escalated the situation.
For the record, I’m NOT the kind to automatically take the police’s side on these things either. Sacramento PD actually has a BAD reputation in general for trying to avoid responding to calls. Despite that, a couple of officers in a completely different case managed to also make national news for hassling a black jaywalker.
Now, IF that had happened in a busy main street, it might merit a quick stop, and a “Hey bro, jaywalking is dangerous. We don’t want to see you or any drivers get hurt, use the crosswalk next time, OK?”. SADLY, this incident took place on a completely dead residential street though. Everybody jaywalks on a dead residential street. Sac PD couldn’t even say afterwards that he looked like a suspect in a case. Sooooo, it was pretty clearly a case of the guy’s “crime” being walking while back. THOSE cops should have been fired. That kind of stupidity damages race relations and faith in good cops.
I’m discouraged that I see half truths and lies being spread by “responsible” news outlets looking for ratings. He was NOT shot 8 times in the back, for example. I’m equally if not more discouraged by politicians on both sides trying to exploit this for political capital.