Things are a bit touchy in Missouri these days if you haven’t heard. I will refrain from taking a position on the Ferguson shooting itself. Neither side’s initial story painted anything remotely resembling a coherent picture, though the needle seems to be moving in the direction of ambiguous if not justified. I wasn’t there, and justice does not move at the speed of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackass. If there is a case to be made against the officer, then he deserves a trial and not mob justice.
I have do have strong opinions on the militarization of police in this country. I also believe that the Ferguson PD’s ham-handed response has turned the situation into an unmitigated pooch-screw. I welcome your thoughts and opinions on that issue in the comments. I am sort of throwing this out as an “open-thread” on the whole Ferguson situation.
That leads me to today’s shooting. I credit the St. Louis Chief holding an immediate press conference and being extremely forthcoming from the beginning. It looks like there is no strong link between today’s shooting and the protests in Ferguson. In fact, it may even have been a “Suicide by Cop”…
“According to police, the unidentified male initially entered a convenience store carrying two energy drinks. After exiting, he re-entered and allegedly took a package of pastries without paying for them. When he was confronted by the store’s owner he tossed the food into the street and began to walk around “erratically”, according to St. Louis police. Another business owner contacted authorities and when officers arrived the man allegedly pulled a knife out of his waste-band in a threatening manner, and told police, “Shoot me now, kill me now, shoot me.”
The suspect reportedly did not respond to verbal commands from officers to stop and was fired upon. According to authorities, police did not have their guns drawn until the suspect refused to drop his weapon.”
Two things that make this look like it won’t add fuel to the Ferguson fire. First, the whole scene was actually witnessed by a local alderwoman, who is not at this point agitating because the deceased clearly was brandishing a weapon at police (Update:the video released by the StLPD shows the knife’s position to be ambiguous – more detail in the comments). More importantly, the Chief actually walked among the people following his press conference and took questions from the crowd, some of whom were becoming agitated. It seemed to help.
Kudos to Chief Dotson for getting out ahead of a volatile situation.