On Sunday, The Washington Post committed half of an entire page of newsprint to a Wesley Lowery article entitled “Police are still killing black people. Why don’t we notice?” At the risk of drawing readers and viewers to the Post, the article is worthy of a response.
Lowery, as he tends to do, works hard to keep alive the notion that police wantonly hunt and gun down innocent blacks and now his frustration with the lack of attention on the subject is pointed, unsurprisingly, at President Trump.
He’s right on some points, including that Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, played regularly into the Post’s preferred theme of abusive and racist policing in America. It’s true that Obama, “who was immediately and persistently asked to weigh in on issues of race and policing…” welcomed the opportunities, though Lowery doesn’t bother recognizing that the manner in which the former president responded inappropriately thumbed the scales of justice, much to the chagrin of police associations and cops themselves.
Yet Lowery gives more, salting his complaints with the wholly misleading dog whistles that presumably help him make his point. He buries three seemingly important names in his article – Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray – each working as triggers that will get his undiscriminating readers nodding in vapid agreement.
However, examination of the details of those three encounters helps expose the author and raises doubt about the strength of his case.
Trayvon Martin had a fatal encounter with an overeager neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was not “the police” and he was acquitted of charges against him in a state trial. Sandra Bland, whose detention by an overly aggressive police officer was captured on video, wasn’t killed by police either. She took her own life in a Texas detention cell.
Lowery also invokes the Freddie Gray apparition as evidence in support of his notion of “police killing black people.” Evidently Mr. Lowery was too busy to drive the short distance up I-95 for the trials of the Baltimore police officers wrongly charged by rogue prosecutor Marilyn Mosby but the scant evidence laid out by Mosby’s office served one purpose – it proved the innocence of the accused cops.
Here are a few more recent cases Wesley Lowery would do well to consider as he recklessly advances his anti-cop narrative:
In January, Colorado deputy sheriffs responded to a report of an assault in progress. Shortly after their arrival, deputies contacted a man matching a suspect description. He ran and deputies gave chase. When Deputy Keith Gumm caught up with him, he allegedly produced a handgun and opened fire, striking Gumm in the chest and taking his life. With the help of a sharp-nosed K-9, deputies quickly tracked and arrested Dreion Martise Dearing, found hiding in a nearby tree house. Dearing was a black man with a prior criminal history. Did the deputies who’d just learned their colleague had been shot in the chest, react by using unnecessary fatal force? No. They made the arrest and will wait for justice to be served in the courts.
Four days later, Detroit police officer Glenn Doss responded to a call of domestic violence. His arrival at the scene was met by deadly gunfire. Arrested was a black man, Decharlos Brooks, who didn’t face the deadly police street justice supposed by the Post, but will face justice in court.
Just days afterward, this time in a small town outside Atlanta, Georgia, Police Officer Chase Maddox was helping sheriff’s deputies make an arrest for Failure To Appear. The encounter quickly escalated into an exchange of gunfire, taking the lives of Officer Maddox as well as the wanted subject, Tierre Guthrie, a black man, who reportedly had prior police encounters and told neighbors he, as a Moorish sovereign citizen, didn’t recognize law enforcement authority.
Within a few hours, two Westerville, Ohio police officers were cut down by gunfire, allegedly from convicted felon Quentin Smith, a black man, when they responded to a 911 hang-up call. Smith was shot in the deadly exchange but survived to face charges in the dual killings.
Only three days after the Ohio tragedy, Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer lost his life in the line of duty while pursuing a suspect fleeing other police. Bauer reportedly saw, ran after, and attempted to detain the man, who was wearing body armor, when the man drew a handgun and fired seven shots, fatally injuring the officer in downtown Chicago. Who was the alleged assailant of a Chicago police commander? One Shomari Legghette, a four time convicted felon and a black man. He’ll face courtroom justice, not the murderous race-based justice presumed by Lowery.
So far this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page website, sixteen U.S. law enforcement officers have lost their lives to fatal adversarial gunfire. Nine of those sixteen were killed by bullets fired by black suspects now charged in the crimes or killed in the deadly exchanges. That, Washington Post and Wesley Lowery, represents 56 percent of the police fatalities by adversarial gunfire in 2018.
Why are police still killing black people? Mr. Lowery and the Post would do well to search for their answer by recognizing threat as a driver of police use of force decisions rather than simply assuming race lurks behind everything cops do.
The more difficult obstacle in advancing the Post’s liberal narrative is that sometimes, as in police killings in 2018, the threat is disproportionately in the hands of black men.
Ron Hosko is president of the Law Enforcement Action Network and a former FBI assistant director.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.