Yesterday, a disabled man who was waiting in his car for his son to get off the school bus was shot to death by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. The police were seeking someone else, not Kenneth L. Scott, whose family said he had a book. Police officials said Scott had a gun and "posed an imminent deadly threat" and were received with disbelief.
I am skeptical that a black man waiting for his son at a school bus stop in Charlotte would respond to a police challenge by emerging from his car with a handgun. Legal protest is appropriate. Yet there is no justice in taking goods from stranded tractor trailer trucks to build a fire on Interstate 85. No justification in this for looting. Nor for blocking the highway.
We don't even have the facts so that we can make rational decisions.
Somewhat like black lives, the facts matter and we do not have them. We may never have the facts. Even if the police had been required to wear and were wearing fully functional body cameras, they could under state law choose to conceal the footage. In July #NCGov Pat McCrory signed without comment a law granting law enforcement destructively broad discretion.
As Susann Birdsong of the American Civil Liberties Union put it:
Giving law enforcement such broad authority to keep video footage secret – even from individuals who are filmed – will damage law enforcement’s ability to build trust with the public and destroy any potential this technology had to make officers more accountable to the communities they serve.
The anger in Charlotte is about distrust. McCrory's decision to sign further concealment into law, like the GOP-dominated General Assembly's passage of that law, exacerbated the distrust. The law should be changed to correct their mistake.
We need the facts so that we can make rational decisions.