… because this shouldn’t keep happening

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(AP)

According to NBC News, the man who was shot to death by police near St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday night on a simple traffic stop had been stopped at least 31 times since 2002, all on misdemeanors.

Personally, I’ve been stopped once in that time frame, and I’m not exactly a by-the-book driver. That’s admittedly a data base of one. However, in today’s congressional hearing with FBI Director James Comey, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings brought up the Castile shooting as well as a shooting the previous day in Baton Rouge.

“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never been harmed by the police,” Cummings says, his voice breaking throughout his plea, “but I’ve been stopped 50 million times.”

As always, we don’t know everything or close to everything about the events that led to Castile’s death. We know that he had been pulled over for a bad tail-light and ended up dead, shot four times. Thanks to a heart-rending cell-phone video initiated by Castile’s girlfriend immediately after the shooting, we know with some certainty that Castile had informed the police officer that he was carrying a weapon, and that he had a permit to carry that weapon. That’s standard procedure for someone with a carry permit, and would seem to indicate that Castile was a responsible gun owner who had every intention of cooperating with law enforcement.

We also know with some certainty that Castile was reaching for his wallet in his back pocket for his driver’s license — as requested by the officer — when the officer shot him repeatedly through the open car window, apparently believing that Castile had instead been reaching for the weapon.  If that narrative holds up under further investigation, then Castile was killed for no reason, after fully following police orders, by an officer who panicked. If that narrative holds up, an innocent was killed by the government that should have protected him.

It’s odd how little concern such incidents draw from those who in other contexts are outraged by claims of an overweening government interfering with their lives, even though no right is more basic than the right to stay alive. It’s almost as if they see innocent dead people — particularly innocent dead black people — as the cost of their own safety, and they’re content to see other people pay that cost.

No, it is not acceptable.

As Cummings noted, the Minnesota shooting occurred a day after a police shooting of a black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That victim, Alton Sterling, was also armed, but other circumstances in the case are more murky. Sterling was shot by officers outside a convenience store, where he typically sold CDs. Bystander video shows Sterling on his back, with two police officers on top of him. “He’s got a gun!” one officer shouts, although they should have been informed of his armed status by a previous 911 call.

Four shots rang out, and Sterling was dead.

The store owner, who witnessed the shooting, told reporters that police officers had been aggressive with Sterling from the beginning of the incident. He also said that at no point did he see Sterling’s gun, which was in his back pocket, nor did Sterling ever reach for the gun. The two officers involved have yet to be interviewed by authorities, under a state law that gives them 24 hours before they can be questioned.

Until that’s accomplished, until we know a lot more, we can’t rush to conclusions about exactly what happened, and what the response should be. In both cases, the U.S. Justice Department has agreed to take over the investigations because local communities simply do not trust local law enforcement to honestly investigate itself, too often for good reason. Too often now, video has confirmed serious police misbehavior and even criminal acts that might have been swept away in an earlier era. We’re forced to confront the fact that this is more than just urban mythology.

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

Because this shouldn’t keep happening.

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

635 comments
SvenOttke
SvenOttke

So with the new findings re:  the MN shooting, it's best we all shut our mouths until the investigation is complete.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

5 dead, 6 wounded. Let the justifying and excuse making begin.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Gotta call it a night. But we can all rest easy knowing 2 more thugs are off the street. 


4 cops dead with 3 still in critical condition. Sad day. 

foo2u
foo2u

You left the two men summarily executed by LEOs off your list....

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

 ..nay, where an appeal to the law, and constituted judges, lies open, but the remedy is denied by a manifest perverting of justice, and a barefaced wresting of the laws to protect or indemnify the violence or injuries of some men, or party of men, there it is hard to imagine any thing but a state of war: for wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer justice, it is still violence and injury, however coloured with the name, pretences, or forms of law,...

(Locke, "The State of War")

gotalife
gotalife

Makes their email thingy look silly.


Just another reason why Americans are sick of it.

gotalife
gotalife

All speculation for a few days until the facts come in.

Starik
Starik

@gotalife Isn't that what I've been saying all along?  Why rush?  let the police do their job, and the FBI as well.  That goes for Dallas, and Minnesota, and all these incidents.

honested
honested

@Starik @gotalife 

FBI?

How can we trust them when they didn't follow the wrong-wing overlord's instructions and indict President Clinton?

Starik
Starik

@honested @Starik @gotalife Are you considering Obama as a "wrong-wing overlord?" The Attorney General? They are the bosses of the FBI.  Are you having a bipolar manic episode?  Seek treatment as soon as possible.

TGT88
TGT88

I don't know the circumstances of the MN or LA  shootings. Few do. If the police acted criminally, let justice be done. However, institutionalized police violence is FAR from the biggest problem the black community faces. As many U.S. cities have suffered from the "Ferguson effect," the real problems in the black community become more clear:


Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.


The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)


The vast majority of the victims in the Chicago violence is black Americans. The vast majority of the perpetrators is young black males from broken (read: "fatherless") homes. For decades now numerous liberal policies have undermined the family in America, and just as is the case with terrorism and Islam, liberals across the U.S. ignore the real causes of the evil that plagues and continue to play their foolish political games.

TGT88
TGT88

Excuse me: "majority...are"

honested
honested

@TGT88 

Pointless, idiotic, wrong-wing troll 'Chicago' reference.....

DRINK!

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Talk of a possible bomb planted now in downtown.

gotalife
gotalife

3 killed 8 wounded.


Open carry shooting.

honested
honested

@Seriously @honested @gotalife 

Determines where you fit.

It's a simple question.


Here's a hint, private property is a manufactured concept.

The Constitution protects Sentient Humans.


Do you maybe get it now?

honested
honested

@Seriously @honested @gotalife 

When the protectors of property violate their oath to the Constitution and exterminate human life for no justified reason, there is no legitimate defense.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

@honested @Doom Classical liberal @Seriously @gotalife


Oh, so the founders were socialists or communists?


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


Property has no rights. But the people who own the property have rights. For example, my property, home, cars, money in the bank. Its mine. And I have a right to my property. 


If you can't understand why property rights are essential to progress than you understand nothing about human nature or about the world itself. Nothing.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

@Starik @honested @Seriously @gotalife


I understand people being on the left and many of them can have reasonable views. I think you are usually on the left. But Ed is just plain nutty crazy extreme. At least one or 2 other progressive bloggers have told him as much. You're the 2nd or 3rd. 

honested
honested

@Doom Classical liberal @honested @Seriously @gotalife 

Where is 'capitalism' given authority in the Constitution.

Where does the Constitution give anyone the right to extinguish sentient life to extend artificial 'protection' of that property?

I'm waiting.

No braying required.