This more recent shooting in Falcon Heights, Minnesota reminded me of Joseph Schultz. Schultz, you probably don't remember because you've never heard of him, got shot in the face in 2003 by FBI agents who were conducting a traffic stop on the wrong car. (Schultz is white, and apparently white people don't get bothered by being shot by police for no good reason.) I wonder how many traffic stops FBI agents have made before or since. The FBI agents got off. It was called an "unfortunate accident." No. It was worse than that.
Over in the twitter world -- which is like the real world but somewhat more poor, nasty, brutish, and short -- David Simon seems aggrieved (a burden he carries well) about my wait-for-the-facts position on Sterling in Louisiana but my willingness to rush to judgement in Castile's death.
(Actually, I'd bet Louisiana shooting not good either, but I'm not ready to call it yet. And I'm not a betting man.)In a ever-so-slightly trolling manner, Simon prodded:
You don't need to see the beginning of the video? Or learn all the possibilities of reasonable suspicion and probable cause for car stop? Why not?No, I don't. These shootings are very different. Because one involved a fighting man with an illegal gun.
In Sterling's death, I can imagine a scenario -- one that may or may not be true but is very much possible when three people with three guns are rolling around on the ground -- where the shooting was justified. What if Sterling was trying reach for a gun to kill somebody? My guess is this isn't what happened, but I don't know. (And neither do you.)
@AoDespair I'll try and speak more slowly: one involved a fighting man with an illegal gun.— Peter Moskos (@PeterMoskos) July 7, 2016
But it's not just that. Castile was a police-initiated engagement. That matters. The victim, judging from post shooting reactions, was compliant. There was no fight. It's a car stop, which limits the possibilities of motion. That's relevant less for the possible danger aspect than for me being willing to make some assumptions about what happened before the video. I have no idea what happened before Alton got shot and tased. I know very well how car stops work.
And I'll just keep mentioning this: Castile wasn't carrying an illegal gun.
Ah, responded Simon (foolishly trying to find flaw in my logic):
But video I saw was after shooting occurred. How do you ascertain all of the above other than witness credibilityAnd:
Do you have video of the run-up to and shooting of victim in Minnesota? Maybe I saw something abbreviated.There's no reason to think Castile was a threat or pointed his gun at the cops. The cop, later audio indicates, told Castile to reach for something, and he did. That's called being compliant. I am willing to give police the benefit of the doubt. But having done that, and also willing to admit I can't honestly conceive of a way the shooting of Castile was justified (unless there's really something big we don't know). And it's not the first time or even second time a compliant individual was shot by police.
But it's sometimes hard to explain nuance in 140 characters. So I left it at this:
@AoDespair But, this being twitter, my assumptions are reasonable and yours are not!— Peter Moskos (@PeterMoskos) July 7, 2016
And though I generally think race is overplayed as a factor in police-involved shootings (and geographic region and act of being a lethal threat underplayed). Honestly, in this shooting, with this cop, in this locale, I don't think there's a chance in hell Castile would have been shot had he been white.