FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
The Post's first five examples: How and why do unarmed women get shot and killed by police officers?
We can't exactly tell you. In Tuesday's gruesome front-page report, the Washington Post examined seven such cases. We'll start with two observations:
First, it seems that this rarely happens. According to the Post's Fatal Force site, only 26 unarmed women have been shot and killed by a police officer since the start of 2015. That figure was explicitly cited in Tuesday's front-page report.
That's 26 unarmed women, out of the 247 women who have been shot and killed by police overall. Of the 26 "unarmed" women, 14 were "white" and seven were "black."
That isn't a lot of examples. For that reason, it's fairly silly when the Post, early on, offers a percentage-based summary of these events:
IATA (9/8/20): Of the 247 women fatally shot, 48 were Black and seven of those were unarmed.
...Black women, who are 13 percent of the female population, account for 20 percent of the women shot and killed and 28 percent of the unarmed deaths.
According to the Post report, black women "account for 28 percent of the unarmed deaths." That was almost technically accurate!
In fact, seven out of 26 is 26.92 percent. Rounding that off to 28 is, in the time-honored phrase, "close enough for Washington Post top of the front page work."
In fact, black women account for just under 27 percent of the unarmed deaths. That said, it's fairly silly to use percentages when we're dealing with such small numbers.
Meanwhile, what does it mean to be "unarmed?" For various reasons, this may not be as simple a matter as a person might imagine. Consider just one reason:
In four of the first five examples the Post described, the women who were shot and killed were in fact unarmed. On the other hand, each was with a male companion (three boyfriends, one husband) who was armed, and who engaged in gunfire with police.
In three of the four examples, the women were shot and killed as part of an inherently dangerous "no-knock" raid. In the other case, the woman's boy friend was reportedly being surveilled in the manner described:
IATA: On Sept. 5, 2015, Virginia Beach police officers in two unmarked cars were surveilling 35-year-old Angelo Perry, the father of [India] Kager’s child. Police said Perry was a suspect in two homicides and a home invasion, and they believed he was on his way to kill a member of a rival drug gang.
The officers followed Perry, Kager and their 4-month-old son as they drove into a 7-Eleven parking lot. The police cars pulled up behind Kager’s Cadillac, blocking it in.
An officer threw a flash-bang grenade toward the Cadillac to distract Perry, Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle later told reporters. Four officers ran toward the car to arrest Perry and he shot at them.
The officers fired 30 rounds in response, killing Perry and Kager. Police said the infant, sitting in the back seat, escaped injury. A nearby surveillance camera recorded the gun battle.
Stolle concluded that the police shooting was justified.
Was the shooting justified? That's a matter of judgment.
Is that an accurate account of what happened? We can't even tell you that!
That said, in three of the four cases to which we refer, the women who were shot and killed had been romantically involved with men who were being pursued on major criminal charges. One of the women was shot and killed when police were arresting her boyfriend, Andrew Jeff Coffee IV, whose three-generation family history is almost comically criminal.
In our view, that remarkable history is skillfully sanitized by the Post's report. In such ways, our major press organs are creating a new religion built around the (largely imagined) intersections of "race" and crime and punishment.
In how many cases do police shootings involve misconduct by police? Are various demographic groups subjected to disparate treatment in police shooting events? If so, to what extent?
It wouldn't be easy to answer such questions in any serious way. At present, there's little sign that our major press organs are actually trying to do so.
Instead, they're creating pleasingly novelized scripture filled with good guys and bad guys. This is silly, childish behavior.
According to major anthropologists, it's also very much who we are and who we've always been.
For extra credit only: We recall the old Paul Reiser joke, the one in which Moses is invited to play a round of golf with the three persons of the Holy Trinity. Long story short, the joke ends with an exasperated Moses saying this:
"Did we come here to play some golf? Or are we just f**king around?"
These same questions might be asked of major upper-end journalism.