(This post was created before the release of the name of the officer involved and prior to the release of the video surveillance footage being released)
I’ve sat in silence, watching, listening; taking it all in. I’ve contemplated whether to speak on it or not. A news conference today sealed the deal.
Let’s start with the most pertinent fact of all….. Not one of us have all the facts at this point. Not the police. Not the family of the deceased. Not a single citizen - and certainly not anyone in Washington DC. There is absolutely no disputing that only two people are knowledgeable enough to form a concrete conclusion at this point regarding the circumstances which led up to the discharge of the officer’s weapon. One is the officer. One is the deceased.
The community is crying out for justice based solely on the “facts” that a white officer (whose identity has not been released) shot and killed an “unarmed black teen”. My first thought was - I sure hope he’s actually a white cop because if he turns out to be a light skinned Latino or Jewish or a mixed blend of Asian and Irish, this white vs. black rhetoric will sure need some tweaking. But I’m sure Al is all over the variables at this point. Secondly…. this was no “teen”. How many have EVER referred to our “teen soldiers”? They are very often times actually in their teenage years when sent abroad and we are sure to address them as “Young men”, “Brave men and women of the armed forces”, however…. put a black man of the same young age in a predicament which turns bad and he is suddenly a “teen”, “another young black youth gunned down”. He would never be addressed in that manner should he have been returning from Afghanistan in a flag draped coffin. Sadly, he most likely would have never made the news at all coming home as a young black man who gave his life to his country, as it’s more newsworthy in America to sensationalize a story about an “unarmed black teen” just as it is more newsworthy to sensationalize the actions of officers in a manner which convicts them before the facts are known.
I’m not going to address whether or not I believe the officer was justified or not, nor am I going to address whether or not I believe the actions of the deceased led to his death. I won’t because I can’t. I do not have all the facts and without them, I’m simply a hypocrite playing into idiocy and resulting mayhem. What I will address are my thoughts on what has resulted after the fact.
A police officer fired his weapon which resulted in loss of life. Much of those who are painting this officer as a murderer have clearly not considered some very basic and simple facts:
NO officer wishes to take a life. If you choose to dismiss that fact based on your belief that officers are blood thirsty ego maniacs on a trigger trip, slow your roll a moment and remember that an officer who discharges his weapon automatically puts him/herself in the worst position possible for their career. Every officer is accountable for every bullet of their career. Every bullet has the potential to end their career, devastate their livelihood, destroy their marriage, haunt their dreams and strip them of the only thing they can identify with in terms of making a living, which is being an officer. There are very few officers who can see themselves installing cable or working on cars or building furniture after the badge, much less see themselves in prison.
Officers are accustomed to being scrutinized on a micromanaged, microscopic level at all times. An officer’s life is played out on a live reel. Anywhere they go they are being watched. Everything they do is recorded. Everyone has a camera phone, most officers have body mic’s and dash cams. If you think that’s what officers deserve and need to help keep them in check, you might want to consider that the majority of officers hope and pray their actions are caught on some kind of recording, because if not, they are at the mercy of a public who in large part would take joy in their demise. How quickly the public assumes officers act annoyed at cameras in their faces as it must be a revelation of the truth! When in reality most officers are annoyed for the same reason the public is….. how would any of us react if a stranger approached us shoving cameras in our face as we go about our jobs? And if you are in a position in which every 53 hours one of your co-workers DIES doing their job, would you be a little more suspicious of a stranger approaching you? Think it through.
We don’t know yet what was caught on tape or film or body mic or dash cam due to the position of those involved at the time, however, we have witnesses! They happen to be friends with the deceased and according to much of those in support of the deceased, we should automatically take their account as valid and without distortion. A white cop murdered an unarmed black teen who had his hands in the air, surrendering. However, we shouldn’t even consider that the officer might have not chosen to take a life lightly. We are to assume a life meant nothing to him. We are to assume he had no second thoughts as to murdering another human. We are to assume he had no thoughts whatsoever about his career, his family, his livelihood, his future, his retirement, his potential of spending the rest of his life in prison, his morals, his religion, his own humanity….nor are we to think he might have thought twice as he was standing in front of witnesses. Not having all the facts prevent us from making concrete conclusions on any of it at this point. One thing we know for sure…. 99.9% of us know nothing more about the deceased than we do about the officer, yet in 99.9% of cases, we have all formed an opinion, and none of us are fully informed.
One fact that cannot be disputed is the pure idiocy of those behaving in a way which is destructive to innocents. Looting, destruction and acts of mayhem against a community and local businesses as a way to make a statement does nothing more than solidify the opinions of those looking in.
I’ve heard over and over directly from mouths being interviewed “It’s a black thing”…. No. no it’s not. It’s an ignorant thing amongst those who choose to label their own race as victims while they themselves commit illegal acts. There is no making it right. It’s a black thing? Where’s Bill Cosby? Where’s the black officers from that community? There’s three black officers on the payroll…. Where’s their new stolen tv? Oh, but wait… how do you address the black officers? How do you handle them in the black community? Are they exempt? Or are they just as corrupt as the white cops? Are we just going to sweep them under the rug because it doesn’t fit an agenda of a black community vs. white police force? I suppose we’ll call them sellouts since it works against this particular agenda? Are those rioting (not protesting, rioting) hurling Molotov cocktails at the police AFTER asking the black cops to get out of the way? Or is it ALL cops that deserve to be firebombed? That’s not racist in itself is it? Grouping an entire profession into one negative worthless category based on the actions of a few? But isn’t that what the black community is so upset about? Being grouped into one category based on the actions of a few? Or should we not even consider the actions of the few because after all, aren’t they acting as a result of being oppressed and prejudiced against for so long?? That excuses the actions of all, right? We’re tired of being profiled and prejudged and maligned so we’re going to act a straight up fool and ruin the businesses of hard working individuals who have nothing to do with our plight. THAT will give us the credit for our character that we are OWED. That, my friends, is not a black thing…. that’s a stupid thing.
There once was a boy who was born into a family he didn’t choose. He lived in a neighborhood he didn’t choose. He grew up in poverty he had no control over. He was surrounded by drugs and thieves and those who did what they felt they had to do to get by in a world which seemed to judge them all for absolutely no valid reason. His friends said they had no choice in making a living the way they did. His family struggled to find decent pay in a world which preferred another type of candidate. The police were often around his world, because his world was infested with the crime of those who professed to be forced into illegal activity because the white man was keeping them down. He grew up seeing racism, bias behavior, and anger, frustration and the wearing down of good people because of what they faced. He made a choice. He chose to live by the rules, even those that didn’t seem fair. He stayed in school despite the lure of easy money and the promise of a “family” that would never turn on him. He never assumed he was OWED a thing in this life other than the same opportunity that is given to others. He became a police officer. He has been an officer for almost 18 years. He’s a cop for the right reasons, and he happens to be black. He’s also my husband. And I happen to be white. My children happen to be black and they are being raised and taught by their black father that nothing in life is free, there are no handouts, your work ethic and morals dictate your future and you and you alone are accountable for your own actions. Accountability…..where oh where art thou?
There are despicable humans in this world. They come in all colors. There are corrupt, despicable police officers out there as well. There are officers who have profiled and wronged and abused and yes, murdered innocents. There is no excuse for justifying harm to any other officer based on the actions of the corrupt. If you claim you are sick of racism but you also blame “ALL” cops, you are a racist hypocrite. If you claim a black man was murdered by a white cop but you support harming officers not related to the incident in any way, you are a hypocrite. If you support police and believe that it is impossible that they make horrible decisions or bad mistakes or tragic misjudgments, or even callus, calculated injustices, you are naive. When rational common sense is replaced with collective bandwagons, all is lost.
People are sick of a militarized police nation but no one wants to accept what is bringing it on. How many gang bangers are fighting back with 22’s since the weapon of choice on the street became an assault rifle? But the police should use tasers and less lethal options and “aim at a leg” when they have absolutely no idea what is aimed at them 90% of the time. You want an officer to aim at a leg in a struggle when someone is trying to take possession of his weapon? Role reverse, then speak. Center Mass allows an officer and a soldier to see tomorrow. When a weapon is finally discharged, it is because other options are moot. Enough said.
Officers are aggressive and paranoid. YA THINK?! They are DYING while WORKING every FIFTY THREE HOURS. They are being ambushed simply sitting in their cars. They are being sought out, targeted and slaughtered by those they have never had a single dealing with. They are being shot at INSIDE their own precincts. Their home addresses and wives and babies are being exposed by criminals. They are being killed in their own driveways while off duty. “People are sick of corrupt police and taking action” Guess what….. GOOD COPS ARE SICK OF SEEING THEIR BROTHERS AND SISTERS SLAUGHTERED and are on high alert. It’s perfectly alright for the black community to start a hashtag campaign about what pic would be chosen “If they gunned me down” but it’s not acceptable to think an officer who sees one of his own die every other day might be a little on edge?? Oh, that’s right….they signed up for that, that eliminates their right to have intent to make it home alive. No one being profiled wants to take accountability for doing the very thing they are speaking against. Profiling all police based on the actions of some is prejudice.
A white plastic surgeon who was corrupt as shit killed a black woman. He killed many, actually. He was greedy. He was performing cheap surgery on innocent victims with no regard for their lives. Many died or were disfigured and left permanently injured. Where’s Al? Where’s the riots? Where’s the demand for justice against white plastic surgeons!?!? How absurd.
Where’s the outrage for the black officers who were ambushed and murdered by white felons?? Where’s Al? Better yet… where’s the outrage for the white officers ambushed and murdered by black felons, or white felons for that matter? Why aren’t the police wives and police unions of America marching and protesting and rioting in the ghetto and the white meth head trailer parks where the felons lived?! How absurd.
I’ve done over 100 tributes to fallen officers, many of them black, many of them murdered by white men, AND I’m married to a black cop…….where’s my free tv? Where’s Al? How absurd.
If we as a people TRULY want change the first thing we have to get back is accountability. Accountability for our own actions, without blame of others. OWNERSHIP of self-actions. Regardless of our race, regardless of our profession.
The media and every single person feeding off the absurd, half fact, ill informed, premature lack of factual basis to form any conclusion at this point are contributing to racism, violence and sweeping ignorance in this country. Racism is alive and real and I can promise you as a white woman married to a black man with a mixed special needs child I have seen racism on so many level it’s not even funny. I have experienced racism from black and white females. I have experienced racism because I am married to a police officer. I have experienced racism because my children are mixed. I have experienced racist ignorance as a mother of a special needs child……. And there is not ONE SINGLE PERSON ON EARTH that is responsible for ANYTHING in my life or how I live or what choices I make other than MYSELF.
I wholeheartedly feel compassion for the family of the deceased. No parent should ever have to bury their child. My prayers are with them. If the officer was in the wrong, I pray justice is served. If he was justified, I pray for humbleness and acceptance and peace. More than anything, I pray we all take a good hard look in the mirror and honestly ask ourselves how each and every contribution we make to this life lends worth. What we are fighting for loses all meaning when we do so without character.
As police families we should all hold ourselves accountable to an even higher standard. Each and every action as a police officer and as families of officers directly contributes to the positive or negative perception of law enforcement as a whole. We owe it to our own to live by the highest standards of integrity. We also owe it to the communities we are sworn to protect and serve. We can ALL DO BETTER. Regardless of the color of our skin or the occupation we hold – we should strive to make a positive contribution to humanity each and every day. We can all do better.
Prayers for peace and safety to all our officers who have been hurled into this mess, and to all the families who are praying them home.
Melissa Littles, Founder
The Police Wife Life©