Monday, 14 October 2013

09:39 – There was a follow-up article in the paper this morning about a disturbing incident that occurred in Charlotte a month ago. A young man crashed his car at 2:30 in the morning. It was not a minor crash. He had to kick out the rear window of the car to get out. He headed to a cluster of homes and pounded on the door seeking help. The woman whose door he was pounding on called 911. Three Charlotte police officers responded. When they arrived, the man ran toward them. They tried unsuccessfully to stop him with Taser fire. One of the officers then fired 12 shots from his pistol, hitting the man 10 times and killing him.

What’s extremely unusual about this case is what happened next. Ordinarily, one would expect a full investigation of the shooting before the police made any public comment. The NC SBI and other neutral investigators would be involved, and it would be at least several days, if not weeks or months, before a formal conclusion was released. Instead, the Charlotte police department announced that same day that the shooting was not justified and charged the officer with voluntary manslaughter. Neither of the other two officers fired, and a dashcam apparently recorded the whole incident, although the footage has not been made public. On that basis, I assumed this was pretty much an open-and-shut case of an inexperienced cop who panicked and used excessive force.

Unfortunately, the cop is white and the dead man was black, which raises the race issue. Did the cop shoot this guy because he felt more threatened than he would have had the man been white? Did the other officers not fire because they didn’t think the threat level warranted use of deadly force, did they not fire because they froze, did they not fire because they didn’t have a clear field of fire, or what? Why did the cop in question fire 12 times, hitting the guy 10 times? Was the guy still on his feet after being hit nine times, or did the cop continue shooting him after he was down? Did the Charlotte PD rush to judgment trying to avoid another public spectacle like the Trayvon Martin case?