Earlier this morning, we saw the release of the criminal complaint filed against Jacob Blake led to his encounter with police (see Criminal Complaint Against Jacob Blake Release, The Original Story His Lawyer Told Was a Lie). We learned that Blake had not only allegedly sexually assaulted the woman involved, but that he had taken her keys and was presumably trying to steal her car. We also know that he had a knife, had assaulted officers, and that there were children in the car he was attempting to either reach into or flee in when police shot him.
Given what we know now, I want to talk about the dumbest argument I’m seeing in relation to this case, because I think settling on some actual standards for police conduct would make things far less divided when we talk about officer involved shootings.
After spending some time on Twitter seeing the reaction to the release of the criminal complaint, I keep seeing people say “well, they still shouldn’t have shot him.” Further, I continually see people suggest he should have been allowed to flee because he supposedly wasn’t an immediate threat.
First, when someone has a knife, police are not in the position to read that person’s mind and know what they are going to do next. In hindsight, perhaps you could make the case that he just wanted to get away. But in the heat of the moment, you are placing police in an impossible situation by telling them they can’t respond with force when confronted with a belligerent person, who has already assaulted them mind you, and has a weapon. At that point, you are so deep in the weeds trying to make excuses for Blake that you might as well just say the cops shouldn’t show up at all. There have to be reasonable standards by which we judge police interactions. Resisting arrest itself is not a death sentence. Having a weapon, assaulting police, and attempting to enter a car full of kids is a totally different scenario and it should be treated as such.
On that topic of the kids, that brings me to the biggest issue here in my view. Again, given what we’ve learned this morning, we now have a suspect wanted for sexual assault that has assaulted officers and has a knife possibly trying to flee the scene in a stolen car full of kids. Think about that for a moment and ask yourself what the police are supposed to do when confronted with that. Should they simply let him drive off? What if he took the kids hostage? What if he had an accident racing away from the scene? What if a pursuit was initiated and the children were harmed? The police can’t just end the pursuit of a suspect when he’s presumably just taken three children and is in possession of a weapon. The fact that they are his kids (which I believe it’s been confirmed they are) is irrelevant to the calculations the police have to make here, both because the cops couldn’t know that and because there’s still a weapon involved.
Now, if you’ve heard all this information and still insist that Blake should have been allowed to drive off, I’d suggest you aren’t operating in good faith and are simply continually moving the goalposts to justify your narrative. Police should not shoot people when they don’t pose a threat. A man with a knife who’s beaten up the cops and is attempting to enter a car with children in the backseat is absolutely a threat. Trying to conflate cases like Blake’s, where all available evidence now says it was a justified shooting, with bad shootings only harms the quest for making policing more efficient and safe.
Enough of the ridiculous arguments where police are expected to do the impossible and know for sure that letting an armed man leave the scene with children isn’t going to end badly. Blake had multiple chances to deescalate this situation. The police did not immediately shoot him and did what they could until Blake left them at a crossroads with a choice to make. This is why you don’t resist arrest, it’s why you don’t pull weapons on the cops, it’s why you don’t assault officers, and it’s why you don’t disobey simple commands to not enter a vehicle when told. Nothing in this situation happened immediately. Rather, it was a long string of lawlessness by Blake within the encounter with police that eventually led to him being shot. He was not being hunted, nor is there even a hint that racism played a part.
If Black Lives Matter gave one actual care about reforming the police, they wouldn’t be knee-capping their own cause by ignoring the facts of the Blake case. But they don’t care about that, thus we get the anarchy and destruction we’ve seen recently. It’s sad and the media have played the biggest role in spreading misinformation. Kenosha did not need to burn, period.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)