Comparing Taylor and Brown, one person wrote:
But they are alike in this important way: Neither young man deserved to die that day. Neither Michael Brown nor Dillon Taylor was convicted of a crime related to their activities on their last days, and even if they were, it wouldn't be a capital crime. And this doesn't appear to be an uncommon mistake.Well leaving aside what "common" means, a police officer does not shoot you because of the crime you did or did not commit. You are justifiably shot because a reasonable police officer believes you to be an imminent and potentially lethal threat
To be clear, Taylor was not armed (nor was Brown). But Taylor sure doesn't act like like he's no threat. Taylor was -- and acted like -- an armed criminal. Still, knowing only that Taylor did not have a gun when he was shot, anti-police folk went out and filled in their ignorance with their ideology. The inevitable conclusion: police are to blame.
But comparing the homicide of Taylor and Brown, there is one important difference: the officer who shot Taylor was wearing a body camera! As is usually the case, the video shows exactly what police claimed to have happened. We'll never for sure what happened in the moments before Brown was shot: Here's the Taylor shooting:
The shooting was declared justified. This is maybe not the best shooting, as Taylor was eventually raising his shirt, presumably to show he wasn't armed. I also can't see Taylor's right hand, which could change things. But at some point it seems to me that Taylor is doing the old "life your shirt to show you're not armed" thing. So it does seem unfortunate to shoot a guy when he finally does comply with "getting his hands out." But there was a period of non-compliance. And then there sure was a quick move from a concealing waistband. And had Taylor been armed, and I think a reasonable officer had good reason to believe Taylor was armed, then yes, this is a justified shooting.
There are certain things you have to take on the job: dumb people; dirty people; violent people. But a depressed criminal idiot (perhaps with a death wish), playing "I might have a gun on me" is not one of them. Still, though I'm willing to give the officer on scene the benefit of the doubt, well, like I said, it's not the best shooting. But yes, I think it is justified.
Many people don't realize how many idiots police deal with. As a police officer, more than once I was approached by a kid (always on a bike) who would quickly reach into his waistband and act like he was pulling a gun to shoot me. Honestly, driving toward them, I never had time to react. Also, they were young teenagers. And unarmed. Still, it's the kind of dumb move that can get you killed.
And yet when I've told seemingly smart people (who are far removed from ghetto policing) that this happened a few times, they stare at me in disbelief. They simply can't believe that anybody, much less a unarmed young black male, would do something so potentially lethally stupid as pretend to pull a gun out and shoot a cop. And yet that attitude was routine enough that I didn't even deem it worth mentioning it in my book. It was just some real life FATS training, I suppose.
It was more common, it might be worth pointing out in this post, for young men to routinely (and without any prompting from me) raise their t-shirts to show they were not armed. That move would baffle ride-alongs.
[For what it's worth, I strongly suspect that police who work in violent areas -- and though those officers will be involved in more shootings overall -- those same officers will shoot fewer unarmed people because those officers are acculturated to a certain level of danger. Those cops who work the tough beat have more experience and less fear. I have no idea how to test this killer hypothesis.]