Reporting On Race In Police Shooting

Ta-Nehisi Coates, who blogs on black issues for The Atlantic, reported under the title of Another Police Killing the death of Shem Walker, pictured right, an African-American veteran who was killed by an undercover officer.

It seems that the undercover officer may have been at fault. The point of an undercover officer is that he`s dressed like a criminal, and may be acting like a criminal.

The officer was sitting on Walker`s front porch waiting for an undercover drug bust to go down two doors away, when Walker came out and attempted to kick him off.

I think the scariest thing about the victims in all of these accidental cop shootings, is how you see yourself in so many of them. Shem Walker came out on his stoop in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn to find a man sitting on it. He apparently asked the guy to move. The guy didn`t respond. Walker apparently tried to move him with physical force. Turns out the guy was a cop. The cop shot and killed Walker.

Clinton Hill isn`t what it was in the 80s, but I know the neighborhood, and I could easily see myself in exactly that same situation. The hood consensus, among responsible adults, is that if someone`s sitting on your stoop who you don`t know, they need to get moving. And quickly. Otherwise, you might find yourself mixed up in someone else`s drug bust. It`s the same thing when you see kids leaning on your car. They need to keep it moving, less you get tangled up in their business.

What continues to amaze me about these cops, is how they seem to, all at once, lack basic street sense and basic training. Why are you sitting on some dude`s stoop, in Clinton Hill, in the first place? With earphones on, no less? You`re just asking for beef. Why are you pulling out a gun and shooting someone over a fist fight? You`re a cop, for God`s sake. Why do you think pulling a gun and saying “Freeze, police!” but not showing any f—ing ID, is gonna work? Don`t they know that any drug dealer could do the same thing?

I don`t understand it.

The point is that the officer was undercover, which means he was dressed as, looking like, and acting like a criminal, which means he needed to appreciate that he might be rousted by concerned citizens, especially if he was on their property. So for a change, this police shooting may actually be improper, although of course you can`t tell by press reports, which tend to leave out important facts.

When I say that the officer was apparently “looking like” a criminal, when I read the item on the Atlantic`s blog, I  suspected that the officer would have been chosen by the NYPD`s Narcotics Division to sort of  blend in with the drug addicts of Clinton Hill, and I was right:

And the New York Post reports that Mr. Walker’s family didn’t know that an undercover police officer had been involved in the shooting until they read it in the newspaper. The identity of any of the officers involved in the incident have not been released, but the police said the officer whose gun went off was, like Mr. Walker, black.” [Emphasis added]

The Day: What Happened at 370 Lafayette? - The Local – Fort-Greene Blog – NYTimes.com

Aha! Once again, it`s only the victim`s race that gets mentioned. You may see headlines about “black men killed by police,” but you won`t see headlines that say “Citizen Killed By Black Cop.”