Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police yesterday. Maybe you've watched the video. I have. And I'll tell you what: Other than a tussle and Sterling being shot, I have no friggin' clue what is going on. And I'm what they call a so-called "expert" on these things. So I really don't know how everybody else has it all figured out.
It might be a bad shooting. Honestly, it looks like a bad shooting. And even if justified, it's probably unnecessary in terms of the style of policing that led up to the shooting. Make note: yet another shooting precipitated by the A) failed use of a Taser, B) cops who don't seem very good at verbal persuasion, and C) cops not doing hands-on well. (Seriously, what's with the solo tackle?)
And yet all that said, I can't get over one pretty important detail: Alton Sterling was armed with a gun. An illegal gun. And cops very clearly saw that gun.
"Why did police have to shoot that man with a gun?!" is a question I am generally inclined to dismiss.
A witness to the shooting (who perhaps should have been doing something if he really was "two feet away") said Sterling had a gun in his pocket, but also that Sterling's hands weren't near that pocket. And I've read that police were called to investigate a complaint that from somebody who objected to having that gun pointed by Mr. Sterling in his direction. Yes, even in Louisiana that is a crime.
We don't what happened before when police approached Sterling. Seems relevant to the discussion. There might be other video. I'd like to know more.
And a big deal seems to made that Sterling was on the ground and shot in the back. To me this is a non-issue (except to note that police did seem to have the advantage). A fighting man, even on his belly, can reach for his gun. What if he does get his gun? Should police have to wait for him to point and pull the trigger before shooting? Shoot the bullet out of the air or something? Or reach under Alton before shooting, to avoid shooting him in the back?
I'm not saying this is a good shooting. I'm saying I don't know what happened. And neither do you.
[Update: the next shooting]