A long time ago, I reported on the Benton Harbor Riot of 2003. It was set off by the police-involved killing of a black motorcyclist. It was a small piece, about 300 words written in a newsletter for EURweb. But it is one of my earliest professional memories of reporting police brutality and excessive force.
As much as gun violence in the inner city illustrates an internalized version of white supremacy, when a cop shoots and kills an innocent black person it rarely ends in a conviction for anyone involved in law enforcement.
On April 30, 15 year old Jordan Edwards was leaving a party with friends after hearing gunshots and was struck by a police officer’s bullet through the passenger side window in the vehicle he and four other teenage friends occupied, according to Attorney S. Lee Merrit, legal counsel for the Edwards family.
But, as we’ve all become aware, it is often a struggle to get police to be forthright and honest in situations such as these. For example, former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson admitted to lying about the shooting of Mike Brown. And the Officer that shot Walter Scott in Charleston, South Carolina lied too. They’re both free today, one in spite of the lie, the other despite of it.
So, I will not ask to be pardoned for the skepticism toward the Balch Springs Police Department’s official account of the shooting.
The following is an excerpt from the Dallas Morning News:
Balch Springs police Chief Jonathan Haber said officers heard gunshots as they were responding to a call of drunken teens about 11 p.m. in the 12300 block of Baron Drive. During an altercation, the vehicle backed down the road toward officers in an aggressive manner, Haber said. An officer fired at the vehicle and struck a passenger, who was then transported to the hospital and pronounced dead, Balch Springs police said in a prepared statement. Haber said he did not have any information about whether weapons were found in the vehicle.The Dallas County District Attorneys Office and the Dallas County Sheriffs Department have taken over the criminal investigation.
(Note: The official police report of the shooting changed after this article was published.)
According to Attorney Merrit, Edwards and his friends were not intoxicated and that none of the four other teens in the vehicle were charged with a crime. So, if no charges were filed then it is pretty safe to say no weapons were in the vehicle and no one was under the influence of alcohol either.
Indeed, though I needed no proof, it’s safe to say these boys were well-adjusted young men making what they thought was a good decision to leave a party that they thought may have been violent. They fled individuals who looked like them to avoid violence and stumbled right into a meeting with an officer’s bullet.
But none of that matters now, 15 year old Jordan Edwards is dead and the careless, callous actions of a police officer are the reason why.
The killing season has begun.