Every time a case regarding a police officer killing a black citizen surfaces, there are weeks of dispute in the media, as opposing sides each have their version of events and whether it was a case of police brutality or a warranted take down of an aggressive or otherwise non-compliant suspect.
When a Charlotte, North Carolina police officer shot 43-year old Keith Scott earlier this week, killing him, it set off several nights of violent rioting in the Queen city, prompting Governor Pat McCrory to issue a state of emergency.
National Guard and State Troopers were dispatched on Thursday to help quell the unrest, and for most part, it seemed to be a relatively quiet night, in comparison to the previous two, which saw outside anarchists bused in, just as they had been for the Ferguson riots.
On Thursday, CNN interviewed the Charlotte chapter NAACP president, Corine Mack. The topic was the conflicting reports between family and the Charlotte PD.
The family have insisted that Scott was simply sitting in his car, reading a book, as he waited for his son’s school bus to arrive. They contend that when he stepped out of his car, he was holding a book, not a gun.
The Charlotte PD have said that Scott was holding a gun, and while he didn’t point it at them, he ignored repeated commands to drop the gun before he was shot.
This account has actually been corroborated by witnesses on the scene. There was also a gun recovered near where Scott fell, but no book was found in the area.
If the account of the Charlotte PD proves to be true, it now would appear to be a clear cut case of the public rushing to promote an anti-police narrative.
Mack did little to dispel the notion that her side cares about truth, or the lives of the officers involved.
But the president of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP Corine Mack said ultimately it didn’t matter. “I think the most important part is the contrast in him having a book versus a gun. But in my mind and in most of the community’s mind, it really doesn’t matter if he had a gun,” she said.
“At the end of the day we have the right under the Second Amendment to carry here in North Carolina,” she said. “And [the police’s] responsibility was to engage him in a more deescalated way, to find out if he had a permit for his gun and allow him to go on his merry way and he would still be living today. That’s not what happened.”
“So I don’t want anyone to walk away from this conversation today thinking that a video showing he had a gun in any way says that he was guilty of anything,” concluded Mack.
She brings up an interesting little side issue, in regards to the rights of gun owners in the state of North Carolina, and the actual responsibility involved.
Yes, the Second Amendment gives law abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms. I am a strong proponent of the Second Amendment and would deny no responsible citizen that right.
Looking at what Mack said, however, she shows a glaring and irresponsible lack of knowledge of gun ownership.
To begin, no law enforcement officer who is faced with a suspect holding a gun in his hand is required to find out if this person has a permit for their gun. These may be split second decisions, and chit-chat doesn’t really go beyond the command for the perpetrator to drop their weapon.
A respectful and wise gun owner would comply first, discuss permits and licenses after.
Going through the class for concealed carry in the state of North Carolina, one of the lessons involved has to do with how you respond if you are stopped by the police with your gun in the car.
You place the gun on the dash, put both hands out the window, then inform the approaching officer that you have a gun and are a licensed carrier.
I’ve been stopped once with my gun in the car. I followed those instructions to the letter. The officer approaching immediately unbuckled his sidearm, kept his hand close, but did not unholster.
He was nervous. I didn’t take offense to it.
After getting a look at my gun, and my license to carry, we had a nice conversation about Ted Nugent, then I was sent on my way (I still got a speeding ticket).
Did my race or my sex have a bearing on my being alive to tell this tale now?
Possibly, but the last thing I want to do is read this man’s heart. I think at least an equally plausible explanation was with my behavior. I was preemptive in letting the officer know there was a weapon in the car. I was respectful of the job he was doing, and his right, as a human being, to go home to his family at night.
A second point that Ms. Mack needs to be made aware of is another lesson that is taught in concealed carry classes.
You never brandish your weapon, unless your intent is to use it. You either keep it stored away, or you keep it holstered.
Mr. Scott did not have his weapon holstered. Even though reports of the police dash cam footage say he did not raise his weapon, he still brandished it, holding it even after he was told to drop it. That could have very likely showed intent.
Yes, in North Carolina, he had the right to carry a weapon, but those police officers have the right to expect that they will get to go home to their families at the end of the day.
This, like other cases before it, will be drug out, endlessly debated, and politicized to the good of no one.
It’s tragic. A man lost his life.
There are, however, rules for proper gun handling in place for a reason.
Yes, Ms. Mack. It really does matter if he had a gun.