Shots Fired

Somewhere in America another black suspect has been shot and killed by a white police officer. And before the body is even laid to rest, or the official investigations are concluded, like clockwork, comes the automatic cries from the community of excessive force, police brutality, and racism. Over the course of the last two years this all too familiar narrative has become so commonplace across the country, in the aftermath of such incidents, that it almost reads like a by-the-numbers script, with each new course of events practically identical to the last.

Yet I write these ensuing words not to trivialize the loss of human life, nor to promote hate of any kind. And I am certainly not defending or excusing proven, legitimate cases of actual police misconduct. I seek only to defend the rightful truth. Therefore, I write these words to explore and condemn the modern false narrative which is playing out nightly across America on the evening news. And to also take to task those who purposely manipulate and promote such a blatantly false narrative in order to advance a divisive and destructive political agenda. An agenda which is absolutely responsible for the increase in civil unrest, racial tension, hate, violence, and the senseless murders of countless police officers across the country—officers of all races.

The fact of the matter is, statistically speaking, law enforcement uses of deadly physical force nationwide—although often high profile events when such incidents do occur—are actually incredibly rare occurrences. The statistical rarity of such deadly force incidents becomes especially pronounced when statistically compared against, or in direct relation to, the overall number of police interactions that occur on a daily basis throughout the country. Such routine, daily interactions with the public includes things such as: police calls for service, traffic stops, voluntary encounters, community policing activities, and arrests. The nationwide total of such daily encounters easily numbers in the hundreds of thousands, which then translates to yearly totals well into the millions. Thereby putting the rare incidents of deadly force into the proper statistical context.

And not only are incidents of deadly force extremely rare, but so are incidents of non-deadly physical force as well. Of the thousands of daily police encounters discussed above, statistics regularly indicate that over 98 percent of such encounters involve absolutely no physical force whatsoever on the part of the police. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that such an encounter does result in the use of non-deadly force, and then there is a following complaint against the officer claiming that said force was inappropriate or excessive, statistics also regularly indicate that the vast majority of complaints—approximately 92 percent—are found to be completely unfounded. Thereby indicating that the overwhelming majority of police incidents of non-deadly force are found to be justified, legal, and reasonable.

However, in the rare occasions when law enforcement is forced to use deadly physical force, honest research and statistical data have repeatedly shown that the absolute overwhelming majority of such incidents nationwide turn out to be completely justified and legal. According to a 2015 study, the vast majority of such officer involved shootings—approximately 80 percent—were the result of a suspect being armed with a weapon that posed a direct threat to the officer. In fact, according to the same study, only 16 percent of the total incidents studied involved a suspect that was unarmed or in possession of what was later determined to be a toy or fake weapon. Also, according to the same study, less than 1 percent of the officer involved shootings studied resulted in the officer being criminally charged. Additional data also confirms that approximately 99 percent of all officer involved shootings do not result in the officer being criminally charged. This statistical data thereby indicates that the overwhelming majority of police uses of deadly physical force are found to be legal and justified upon the conclusion of usually multiple investigations—internal, state, federal.

Furthermore, there are no statistics available, or any realistic way of knowing, how often officers show extreme restraint on a daily basis by choosing not to use force when they were otherwise legally justified to do so. Countless examples of such restraint, instances where officers “could” have legally fired but showed extreme restraint by choosing not to do so, are generally undocumented and do not appear in statistical data. So in summation, it is a statistically rare occurrence for a police officer to pull the trigger in the line of duty, but when he does he was more than likely justified and legal.

Finally, the statistics also regularly illustrate that the demographic makeup of the suspects involved in such incidents do not indicate any pattern of intentional profiling or racial targeting on the part of the police. The truth of the matter is, any demographic over-representations indicated by the statistics tend to far more directly reflect realities and correlations between national demographic populations, the overall demographics of criminality, and the overall demographics of crime, community, and police encounters in a given area, as opposed to any intentional and premeditated targeting on the part of the police. Although such statistics may often be dishonestly and politically spun in an attempt to defame law enforcement and push an agenda, when such statistics are honestly and academically compared to other population demographics and overall crime statistics they become far less sensationalist.

And so the statistical data—not to mention good old fashioned common sense—clearly indicates that the current narrative of an ongoing national epidemic of police officers arbitrarily and wrongfully “summarily executing” people, especially men of color, is an absolute lie. Cops nationwide are not engaged in some out of control murderous rampage. Even certain high profile incidents, which may initially “appear” to be “unjustified” in the eyes of a general public utterly ignorant, naïve, and biased on matters of the law and the legal and reasonable use of force, are overwhelmingly later found to have been completely justified and reasonable in accordance with the law and legal precedent when the facts and evidence are examined by trained investigators and prosecutors. “Hands up, don’t shoot”, the nonsensical high profile incident which is largely responsible for the start of this modern false narrative, is a verifiable lie.

And it is from this factual and statistical foundation of truth that the rest of this paper will be based.

Yet the false narrative lives on and continues to spread like wildfire nationally. Not because it is grounded in any real facts, statistical evidence, or truth, but in spite of it. Furthermore, this false narrative is intentionally promoted by those who seek to exploit the divisive social climate it creates in order to further their political careers or agendas, or by those who simply seek self-promotion and aggrandizement by standing above the crowds, or by those who hope or stand to gain financially from its continued propagation and existence—the media, political organizations, lawsuits, etc.

The false narrative then takes hold and is spread further when it is readily accepted by the naïve and ignorant masses who wholeheartedly buy into its lies and believe it to be true regardless of the actual facts. As such, no amount of evidence or truth will ever be enough to convince such people that the narrative is a lie. And as a result, the already tenuous relationship between law enforcement and certain communities is then further strained. Leading to the common perception in today’s climate that any use of force whatsoever against a black suspect by a police officer is now automatically viewed as illegitimate and a civil and human rights violation. An atrocity worthy of Nuremberg.

And so somewhere in America, in the following hypothetical account, another black suspect has been shot and killed by a white police officer. Thus, once again, the all too familiar chain of events begins anew, fueled by the intentionally promoted false narrative of racially motivated police violence. Yet it is safe to say that, in our current social climate, if the deceased suspect in this hypothetical incident were white, the incident would not be nearly as high profile or generate nearly as much protest or media attention and scrutiny. But for now, a hypothetical black criminal suspect is dead at the hands of a white police officer.

Now if this incident happened to occur in a high-crime area or neighborhood, then it is incredibly likely that crowds of angry on-lookers and protestors will begin to swarm the area and scene before the crime scene is even secured and processed. With the crowds held back only by an ever increasing police presence trying to maintain both order and the security and integrity of the crime scene. The crowd will most likely be aggressive and hostile towards the police, shouting all manner of vitriolic anti-police profanity and denunciations. And as word spreads throughout the community, the angry crowds will likely only continue to grow.

And among the crowd of gathering on-lookers, there will almost assuredly be those who claim to have “seen the whole thing”, who claim to be eye-witnesses to the entire incident. The problem is that even if there were actually some legitimate eye-witnesses to the incident, eye-witness testimony is notoriously inaccurate and unreliable. And eye-witness accounts can often be grossly tainted or influenced by one’s own personal perceptions, biases, and peers.

Yet what is actually far more likely, is that some people will dishonestly or maliciously attempt to falsely insert themselves into the incident as an “eye-witness”. Generally after-the-fact, once the incident has already occurred and is in the process of being investigated. False witnesses usually insert themselves into situations either in an attempt to tarnish the investigation, skew public opinion on the matter by promoting rumors and false allegations of police misconduct, or simply just for their “15 minutes of fame”.

Regardless, if witnesses to an incident—real or false—are not immediately separated and isolated from one another and the crowd until they can be properly interviewed and debriefed, then they will almost certainly begin to talk amongst themselves. This then not only potentially distorts their own recollections of the event, but it also spreads unconfirmed information among the crowd. Unsubstantiated information which then becomes further distorted and misconstrued as it goes along—both intentionally and unintentionally. Like an elementary school game of “telephone”, as information is passed and spread among the crowd, people often mishear, misunderstand, or intentionally twist the facts to suit their own narratives, perceptions, and agendas. So whether an eye-witness actually witnessed the incident, or they are simply people lying in an attempt to further antagonize the situation, once the rumor mill begins to churn out its inaccuracies, these false accounts begin to take on an unstoppable life of their own.

The reach and life of these rumors, inaccuracies, and disinformation is then extended and expanded exponentially further once the news media inevitably arrives on scene. For in the absence of sufficient official facts and statements from the authorities—who of course will generally withhold such information until the investigation is actually concluded—the news media, with a 24 hour news cycle, is often left with a void of information and open airtime to fill. A void which they then quickly fill by shoving a camera and microphone in the face of the nearest bystander, who is usually more than willing to provide their own personal assessment of the situation to the news.

Once this happens, falsehoods, rumors, and outright lies about the incident—such as: “he was shot repeatedly in the back”, “he was running away”, “he was unarmed”, “his hands were up and he was surrendering”, etc—are thrown carelessly into the wind by an irresponsible and reckless news media. The media’s own biases and agenda notwithstanding, the simple fact that the news is even willing to cover and broadcast such uncorroborated “eye-witness” and bystander accounts automatically lends credence and legitimacy to such accounts in the eyes of the public. These unconfirmed accounts, in the continued absence of official information, then become reflective of the actual incident, regardless of their veracity. Which then further skews the perceptions and understanding of an ignorant general public. And not only do these false accounts taint the actual incident itself, they also help to further promote and validate the overall national false narrative of police racial violence. By the time the official facts and truth actually do come out—which are, statistically speaking, extremely likely to exonerate the officer—the disinformation of the incident has already become so embedded in the public mind that the truth is not accepted and the false accounts live on.

But I am getting ahead of myself. It is not just the false accounts and “facts” of the incident that get thrown around haphazardly in the aftermath, but also blatant misrepresentations and mischaracterizations of the people involved as well. Mischaracterizations which not only reflect a gross double standard, but also the extreme cognitive dissonance possessed by many “true believers” of the narrative as well. So needless to say, disinformation and intentional propaganda and lies prevail during the critical void of time that exists between the incident and its official conclusion.

Primarily, the grieving community is likely to sugarcoat and exalt the memory of the deceased criminal suspect by portraying him as a misunderstood and troubled victim of police oppression rather than as the criminal he truly was. A criminal who was no doubt likely responsible for victimizing and hurting—through his involvement in illicit drug sales, robberies, assaults, and violence—the very same community that now defends and hails him. But death I suppose, especially when it is politically expedient, has a way of absolving sinners into saints. And so although the deceased suspect was in fact a convicted felon and criminal, and a man heavily responsible for the plight, social disorganization, crime, and the overall lower quality of life in his community, that is not how he will be portrayed or remembered. Now that he is dead at the hands of the police, his memory will be lionized as a good friend, family member, father, and pillar of the community. He will be deified as a martyr of rampant police oppression and brutality, and not as someone whose own choices and actions were responsible for his death.

Whereas the police officer involved in the shooting, in the eyes of the community, ignorant general public, and willing and complicit media, will be portrayed as the poster boy for the Waffen SS. His character will be destroyed. He will be publicly depicted as an occupier, an oppressor, and as a murderer, but above all he will be labeled a racist. In the eyes of the community, he was not an honest cop simply trying to help a troubled neighborhood plagued with violence and crime; rather he was a racist soldier of a “militarized” police force. The stormtrooper of an occupying army oppressing the neighborhood, and therefore a villian solely responsible for the community’s plight and pain. Furthermore, the officer’s entire character will be publicly demonized and vilified, simply for having had the audacity to defend himself from violence during the course of his lawful duties. The personal history, social media accounts, and lengthy criminal record of the deceased suspect will be deemed “completely irrelevant” and contaminating to the incident, while the personal and career history of the officer will be painstakingly scrutinized for any incongruities no matter how small. And any that may be located, such as a minor personal blemish or a write-up or complaint in his personnel file, will then instantly be held up as reflective of the officer’s entire character and career, and as absolute proof of what a monster he is.

Also likely in the immediate days following the incident, and before the official investigations are concluded and while the media’s lies and rumors are still fresh and recklessly being spread, the high profile rabble rousers will descend upon the scene. Among them will be the opportunistic community leaders and politicians, the who’s who assortment of “reverends”, radical leftist groups, representatives from various leftist “civil rights” organizations—such as the ACLU and NAACP, and finally the pro-bono, crusader attorneys with an Atticus Finch complex who are trying to make a name for themselves—or who merely see potential dollar signs. And from this motley crew of opportunists and incendiaries will come the inflammatory rhetoric and demands for “justice”, played to the crowd with only the intention to incite more anger, unrest, and a false sense of victimhood.

But real justice is the search for truth. Justice is allowing the investigation to objectively go where the facts and evidence leads, and then basing an honest decision upon them. Yet this is not what the inflamed masses want, nor is it what they will accept. Because the opportunists and incendiaries have so poisoned the current atmosphere by both endorsing the false national narrative and by convincing the local community that this particular incident was somehow an illegitimate atrocity, that the community has automatically come to believe the worst. And in turn they now demand blood for blood, an eye for an eye. They do not want true justice. Nor will they ever accept the likely evidence, outcome, and truth that the officer was actually justified. And so what the masses really want is not justice, but vengeance and retribution for a falsely perceived wrong. And if they do not get it, riots and violence becomes more likely.

And so in many ways and in many actual cases, regardless of the final outcome, the officer’s life as he knew it was over the moment he found himself in that fateful encounter. His life was over by either choosing to defend himself in a high profile incident or by his own death for deciding not to pull the trigger. The officer, even if he is completely exonerated and cleared, still often finds himself faced with negative publicity, hate, and death threats, and is therefore often left with no choice but to resign his career and fade away into anonymous obscurity. His fate was largely already sealed no matter what the final outcome turned out to be—although I’m sure many in today’s society would have preferred the latter.

Yet in the end, the official investigations will be concluded and a final decision will be reached. As is generally the case, the final facts and evidence will be presented to the DA and, statistically speaking, the DA will opt not to charge the officer. Due to the final investigative report indicating that the officer acted justifiably and legally in his use of force. As I stated above, the statistics indicate that less than one percent of all officers involved in a deadly force incident are ever criminally charged, thereby indicating that the vast majority of police shootings are ultimately found to be completely justified and legal—after generally multiple investigations.

But I will say again, this paper is not to defend those rare, one percent instances of proven police misconduct. It is only to point out that such cases are statistically extremely rare.

But as I also stated above, usually by the time the official facts and truth are finally released, the false accounts, disinformation, and misperceptions of the incident have already had plenty of time to become permanently embedded in the public’s mind. Which in turn means that many will never accept or believe the actual truth. And therefore, the false perceptions of individual incidents, as well as the larger, overall national narrative, continue to live on.

And so in the end the officer is fully cleared and exonerated. But for many this outcome is still unacceptable and illegitimate. For many people in the community and beyond, especially those influenced by rumors, biased perceptions, and intentionally promoted disinformation and false narratives, they will remain unable and unwilling to admit that they have embraced a false messiah and a false case of police misconduct and atrocity. Many will be unwilling to admit that the deceased victim was really not a saint, and the officer was really not a monster. And it is due to this unwillingness to accept the truth and true justice that allows the false narrative continue to live on and grow stronger.

© 2016 By AB Frank, All Rights Reserved

Read More: Fanning The Flames

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