WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2020
...by police officers this year?: How many people have been shot and killed by police officers this year?
As a general matter, the general topic has received limited attention in the press of late. For obvious reasons, press attention has been focused on the ongoing pandemic.
Also, on the presidential election, along with the latest absurd misstatements and absurd behaviors of our reigning commander in chief.
In the past few days, a fleeting statement by Benjamin Crump sent us to the Washington Post's invaluable Fatal Force web site. As of this very morning, these are some basic results of a year-end review:
According to the Fatal Force site, 972 people have been shot and killed by police officers this year (as of December 23). That closely matches the number of fatal shootings recorded in each year since the invaluable site was launched in 2014.
(Important note: The Fatal Force site makes no attempt to judge which fatal shootings were justified, perhaps even life-saving and meritorious, and which fatal shootings were not.)
As is typically the case, white victims outnumber black victims by a roughly two-to-one ratio. As of this morning, the Post site calls the roll as shown:
People shot and killed by police officers, 2020
For the record, that represents quite a few "unknowns." As we've noted in the past. the site has increasingly failed to identify the race of the decedents in recent years.
Who has been shot and killed lately? As of this morning, these were the four most recent capsule accounts at the Fatal Force site:
Joseph Tanner Casten, a 19-year-old White man with a toy weapon, was shot on Dec. 23, 2020 on a street in Joliet, Ill.
Mark Clermont, a 45-year-old [white] man armed with a gun, was shot on Dec. 23, 2020, in a vehicle in Dalton, N.H.
Christopher Cuevas, a 45-year-old Hispanic man armed with a metal object, was shot on Dec. 22, 2020, in a yard in Glendale, Ariz.
Andre Maurice Hill, an unarmed 47-year-old Black man, was shot on Dec. 22, 2020 in Columbus Ohio.
Because he was unarmed, the fatal shooting of Hill has generated criticism and commentary in the past week. Based on a 30-second Google search, we've added Clermont's race to the Fatal Force capsule account, in which he's been left as an unknown.
Why do people get shot and killed when they are unarmed? As with many things, there's no single explanation. For what it's worth, Fatal Force lists forty such fatal shootings this year. Unarmed decedents break down as shown:
17 white, 13 black, 6 Hispanic, 1 other, 3 unknown
Now for some full disclosure. When we went to the Fatal Force site, we took note of the most recent listing, in which a 19-year-old "white" man was shot and killed while in possession of a "toy weapon."
The Fatal Force site lists such decedents as having been armed. The site lists twenty-five such fatal shootings this year:
10 white, 6 black, 3 Hispanic, 5 other, 1 unknown
Why does Fatal Force list such decedents as armed? Presumably, because the "toy weapons" in question are often completely indistinguishable from actual weapons, and because such toy guns are sometimes deliberately used to aid the commission of crimes.
Yesterday, we pondered the recent death of that 19-year-old man who was armed with a toy gun. Based upon this report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the incident may have been the latest case of so-called "suicide by cop."
Yesterday, we took note of that incident, thinking of the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice as we did. This morning, the Tamir Rice case was back in the news—for example, in this news report in the Washington Post.
Wikipedia provides a detailed account of this particular incident. For our money, the most remarkable misconduct in the case involves the remarkable way the officer who fired the fatal shots had been hired, less than a year before, by the Cleveland Police Department.
Wikipedia provides a detailed account of this incident, in which a 12-year-old boy who intended no harm to anyone was shot and killed by a police officer who should never have been hired in the first place. In fairness, it has always seemed to us that the other police officer—the more experienced officer who was driving the car—was more at fault in this wholly avoidable shooting death, for reasons we won't go into today.
Here's something else we'll note. In our view, even Wikipedia omits a basic fact about this tragic, wholly avoidable incident.
What fact does Wikipedia omit? We won't go there today. That said, as we in Our Town have begun to direct attention to such shooting deaths, disappeared, invented and irrelevant facts have played remarkably outsized roles in the way we discuss such events.
This era began with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. National coverage of that event began with a howling factual error in the New York Times.
The Times backed away from this howling error in the days which followed. But the paper has failed to correct its howling error right to this very day.
The howling error in question rather plainly seemed to track back to the legal team assembled by Benjamin Crump. Yesterday, it was Crump's presentation about the latest fatal shooting which occasioned our year-end review.
In his most recent column, Paul Krugman describes the way the conservative world has toyed with economic facts over the past many years.
Over in the conservative town, they've behaved that way forever. Over here, in the streets of Our Town, we tend to put our thumbs on the scale when it comes to matters of gender and race.
We plan to focus on this tendency in the coming year. Beyond the borders of Our Town, we townies aren't always well-liked. It seems to us that the aforementioned tendency here in Our Town plays a very large role in that profoundly counterproductive state of affairs.
As we walk the streets of Our Town, we sometimes get an uneasy feeling. We get the feeling that if it weren't for all the performative virtue in Our Town, there would be no virtue at all.
Surely, that impression can't be correct. Still, the impression can, at times, be strong.
Still coming, tomorrow and Saturday: Performative Virtue On the Prairie; the proximate cause of Norris' howler; what Mark Shields once said