26. Dallas – 2016

July 8, 2016

Being retired, I can watch marathon news coverage when I decide to.  This morning, the day after the Dallas shootings, I awoke to learn that five police officers have died so far, and that six others and two civilians were shot by from one to four shooters, one of whom was killed in a standoff.  Police took him out in a parking garage with the “disrupter” charge of a bomb-destroying robot.

So what do we know at this point?
        The police were protecting a peaceful protest organized by “I’m going to keep blowing shit up because Jesus told me to,” pastor, Jeff Hood.    (During an interview on the street this morning, Hood talked about last night as if it were all about him.  He reminded me of other piss-ant, narcissistic, apocalyptic cult leaders.)
        He organized the protest using social media, along with followers of the habitually belligerent “black lives matter” hate-group.  This is the movement that jumps the gun every time police kill a black man during an arrest, assuming from the fact of the shooting alone that the cause was racial animus on the part of the police, and that the killing was wanton, and unnecessary to protect the lives and safety of officers.
        That movement gave us the infamous, “Hands up!  Don’t shoot!” slogan that came out of Ferguson, and was later clearly shown to have originated in a lie told by the partner-in-crime of the criminal who was shot after attacking a police officer in his patrol car and trying to take his gun.  A criminal who did not have his hands up, and who was again rushing at the officer when shot.
        Even though the lie was contested from the beginning, it was immediately believed and accepted without any confirmation by many politicians, from the local level right up to Attorney General Holder and the President of the United States, Barack Obama.   Neither of whom ever backed away from their racist assumptions even after the lie was revealed in Grand Jury testimony.
        And what led to the massacre of police officers in Dallas?   Protests by Black Lives Matter over unrelated shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, after cell phone video footage surfaced on the internet alleging to show what were called “unnecessary”shootings of two armed black men.
        In one case, while two officers struggled on the ground with a man who was reported to have drawn a gun on a bystander while selling something on the sidewalk, one (or both) of the officers fatally shot the man struggling beneath
        In the other case, the video started rolling immediately AFTER a man, also known to be armed, and sitting in the passenger seat of a car, had been fatally shot by an officer standing at the passenger window with his gun drawn.
        Just because some people lack the imagination to envision circumstances that would justify the officers’ actions doesn’t mean that the shootings were not justified.  And of course, just because the shooters were police officers doesn’t mean that the use of lethal force was justified.
        In the first situation, for a man pinned to the ground and known to be armed with a pistol to continue to struggle may be enough to justify the use of lethal force.  The intensity of the struggle may be the determining factor.   In a struggle violent enough that it may have knocked both body cams askew or out of commission, it might well have been impossible for the officers to be sure the man was not reaching for, or had not already reached, a pistol he had pulled on bystanders only minutes earlier.  Moreover, as far as we know, they didn’t even know where his gun was concealed… in a pocket or his waistband.  With the gun concealed, unless his hands were up, away from his body, and splayed open, they could just as easily have been an inch from his gun…. and a split-second away from the death or injury; of the officers.  The video clearly shows a struggle on-going.  On the other hand, if the man was only wriggling a bit due to the discomfort of being pinned down, and if his hands were plainly visible or restrained, it may be there was no cause for officers to fear for their lives and shoot him.
        In that case we have a man who had armed himself, had brandished his weapon at others, and who then struggled with police trying to arrest him.  THAT’S ALL WE KNOW RIGHT NOW!  [Subsequently, several TV talking heads referred to the man’s firearm was “legal” because Louisiana is an “open carry” state, but this is not true if the firearm was concealed in his waistband or pocket.  Whether it was concealed when the police confronted him has never beed discussed.]
        In St. Paul the only information the public has right now is what is seen on the video of the man dying, and what his girlfriend who took the video has said.  Philando Castile appears to have been shot by police while sitting in the passenger seat of a car.
        The only version we have of what happened in the minutes preceding the shooting comes from HIS COMPANION, Lavish “Diamond” Reynolds.  IF EVERYTHING SHE SAYS is true, the shooting seems to have been have been unjustified, but there are several incongruous elements about the story that would cause a prudent person to want more details before deciding.
  1. The car having been stopped for a busted taillight, according to Reynolds, Castile, the passenger, not the driver, is asked to produce his driver’s (?) license.
  2. Reynolds says the Castile tells police he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and is carrying a pistol.
  3. Reynolds says the Castile then complies with an instruction to produce his license, telling the officer he is reaching for his wallet, not his pistol.
  4. As he reaches, Reynolds says, the officer fatally shoots the passenger through his right arm and into the chest.
        The video shows Castile slump over as Reynolds begins recording on her cell phone.  We don’t hear or see exactly what happened just before.
        As a person who has had concealed weapons permits and who has had some law enforcement training there are a couple of things that strike me as strange about this sequence of events, and, for me, calls the story as it stands into question.
  1. Why would a police officer, apprehensive enough to have his gun drawn and aimed at a man in a car, having been informed that the man is armed, instruct a man, or agree to allow a man, to reach into a back pants pocket for a license.
  2. Why would a man, just having informed the police about a legally concealed weapon, reach into his pocket even if ordered to produce his license, while an officer had a gun pointed at him? 

In a similar traffic stop, wherein in the end I was not cited, my registration and my legal handgun were both in the glove compartment.  Keeping my hands on the wheel and informing the officer there was a pistol in the glove compartment, I asked that another officer retrieve my registration, which he did.  After he had secured the weapon, I got out my driver’s license.

        Lavish Diamond’s story may be true and accurate, but it is certainly not safe or prudent to assume so,  even when to make such an assumption would have little or no consequence.
        [Looking at her heartrending, yet flagrantly anti-white racist Facebook rant just now, I saw her reveal what seems to me may have been the cause of this tragic event. The way she described it, instead of announcing that he was armed while his hands were in the air, it is possible he announced it to the officer just as he was complying with the instruction to produce his license, and was reaching for a fat wallet in his right-hand back pocket.  There may have been a coincidence of two tragic factors here, that together resulted in the shooting.  If the officer had been forewarned that the man was legally armed, he would likely have had him exit the car and would have secured the gun before proceeding with the production of a license. Castile, by all accounts a law-abiding, working and family man with a legal permit to carry concealed, may have been trying to comply with the advice given to all who hold concealed weapon permits, which is to advise the officer that he is armed.  Perhaps he was a bit flustered by the circumstances and being afraid not to comply immediately, didn’t keep enough separation between informing the officer about the gun and reaching for his wallet.  If they were simultaneous, to the officer his words could have sounded more like a threat than a statement of fact. It is also not clear from Lavish Reynolds’ account whether he was reaching for his wallet to show the officer his license to carry concealed, or for a driver’s license that the officer probably had no reason to see and may not have asked for.]
        When the consequences of assuming that these shootings were motivated by racial animus and utter disregard for black life are to encourage an outraged and very likely violent reaction from the black community, for outsiders to jump to a  conclusion of police racism within hours of the incidents as did Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, is nothing short of anti-white-cop race-hustling.
        Here is the text of Obama’s statement:

All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who’ve suffered such a painful loss.

Although I am constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases, I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and I have full confidence in their professionalism and their ability to conduct a thoughtful, thorough, and fair inquiry.

[Ed. This statement, and the pattern of instantly sending in the DOJ to investigate incidents where black men are shot by police, clearly implies the generalization that the ability of local departments to investigate racial incidents is tainted by racism to the point of incompetence.]

But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.

[Ed. This paragraph by Obama can only be interpreted to pre-judge the facts of this and all other police shootings of black people.]

To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day.

[Ed. Despite this empty and self-serving disclaimer, Obama’s paragraph does precisely what he says it does not do.]

It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.

That’s why, two years ago, I set up a Task Force on 21st Century Policing that convened police officers, community leaders, and activists. Together, they came up with detailed recommendations on how to improve community policing. So even as officials continue to look into this week’s tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference. That’s how we’ll keep our communities safe. And that’s how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.

[Ed.  Unfortunately this is just the usual political bullshit, as indicated by the fact that even though nearly all the federal inquiries were dropped, neither Obama nor his DOJ have ever once announced that as a result of their investigation they have found the police shootings justified, while local and state tribunals have often found the officers not guilty of any wrongdoing].

In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling — feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils. Michelle and I share those feelings. Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let’s reflect on what we can do better. Let’s come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.

Finally, I submit that it is not solely he job of police departments to somehow “get” the black community to love and respect them.  As a once young man who repeatedly yearned after women who were ever unattainable, I further submit that it is a practical impossibility to “get” someone to like you.  Moreover, it is the job of the parents of black children to raise them to respect and appreciate the police.  I have heard black fathers for whom I have great respect, say how difficult it is for them to have “the talk” with their sons, when they first warn them to be very careful when encountering the police, lest they be killed on some flimsy excuse because they are black.  And these are the fathers of black children who have fathers, not the 65% in the inner cities who do not.

But it had better be possible for black kids to learn to trust and respect the police, even if they do so warily and with great care.  If it is not impossible, then Dallas may have been what some feared (and some may have hoped) after the first fusillade, the opening salvo in a race war, wherein the only choice left is to pick a side.
What I learned in four decades of medical practice was that all I could do was my part.  I couldn’t do the patient’s part.  Eventually I learned that if I was working harder than the patient, it was a sign that something was wrong and it wasn’t going to work.  The police need to do their part, but only their part.  The rest has to be done by the fathers and mothers, but mostly the fathers, in the community the police are trying to serve.
Again, it had better be possible.