January 9, 2009

Killing Oscar Grant: Senseless

A second, somewhat clearer look at the shooting and some sense of the officer reaction:

When it comes to the topic of how race impacts decision making and perception of an event, police abuses and excessive use of force are often tragic, infuriating and insightful vignettes. The event itself is terrible, but the horror and fury generated are often made monumentally worse by idiotic suggestions that require you to suspend your common sense. The two such suggestions already emerging from the murder of Oscar Grant are 1. that the video evidence currently available, does not tell the whole story and 2. that the officer may have mistook his gun for his taser.

Both suggestions have little merit. Its clear that the victim had no weapon, was being cuffed, face down, with two officers astride him. The officer, Johannes Mehserle , pulls his weapon, aims it and fires. There is no ambiguity there. If the officer does not know the difference between his gun and his taser, he is too dangerously incompetent to be a police officer.

This officer made a decision to unholster his weapon, aim it and fire. I will watch and listen with interest to the justifications offered to explain away the murder of a young black man as somehow reasonable. Those justifications are a window into the way black skin can impact how you are treated and the incident only reinforces my intention to teach my sons to be upstanding men who will not come into adverse contact with the police in the first instance, but to also assume that any interaction with the police in a law enforcement situation, no matter how minor, has the potential for them to end up dead and they must act accordingly.

There has been some rioting in Oakland. Imbeciles. Your actions only deepen the tragedy and waste of the murder of Oscar Grant.