Should officers have shot Andrew Brown?

WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2021

Beachum outlines the basics: Should officers have shot Andrew Brown as he tried to escape arrest?

We can't answer that question. As a general matter, our preference would be that police officers fire their guns only when it's absolutely necessary, but it's still a bit unclear what happened in this situation. 

Then too, there's prevailing law and prevailing departmental policies.

Yesterday, Pasquotank County D.A. Andrew Womble said the officers were justified in what they did. We can't evaluate that judgment, but we thought the Washington Post's Lateshia Beachum did an unusually good job this morning laying out the elementary facts of what seems to have happened that morning.

Watching CNN's endless treatment of this incident, we were struck by the channel's lazy indifference to a basic journalistic task—the basic task of describing the basic facts  of what actually happened on the day in question. CNN stars were much more eager to move ahead to statements of opinion. 

There was little attempt to describe what actually happened. Had Brown been sitting in his car when the deputies arrived that morning? How had he maneuvered his car as he tried to flee? 

We were amazed by CNN's lazy indifference to such elementary scene-setting questions. We thought Beachum did an excellent job this morning sketching the basic outline of that morning's rapid-fire events, at least as they were outlined by Womble:

BEACHUM (5/19/21): During the news conference, Womble recounted the events of April 21: 

Brown was sitting in his dark BMW on the day officers from multiple agencies attempted to serve search and arrest warrants based on alleged drug activity. Around 8:23 a.m., a detective drove his vehicle in front of Brown’s to prevent any forward movement.

Two deputies approached Brown’s car on the driver side as two others moved toward the passenger side with guns drawn as they gave commands to Brown, according to clips of the video Womble played at the news conference.

Brown threw down his phone as officers approached closer and quickly backed his car away from officers as one had his hand on Brown’s driver door handle. That deputy was pulled over the hood of the car, according to Womble.

When Brown backed up enough to the point where he was blocked by his home, he turned his steering wheel to his left toward law enforcement officers, who were scrambling to get out of the way and yelling for him to stop, according to Womble and video footage.

The first shot was fired during this moment, piercing the front windshield of Brown’s car as his vehicle continued to move. More shots followed, hitting Brown’s passenger window and rear passenger side door while his vehicle continued to accelerate across a vacant lot toward a white van occupied by an investigator. Officers fired five additional shots, which went through Brown’s rear windshield and trunk.

The total elapsed time from the first gunshot to the last was five seconds, which conflicts with eyewitness statements shared with the public, Womble noted.

Brown was slumped over when deputies opened his driver’s side door, prompting one to call out for emergency medical services, video showed.

Beachum attributed some of these statements to Womble, some to "Womble and video footage," some to what "video showed." 

In once case, she mentioned an apparent problem with some eyewitness statements. In our experience, this was the clearest account from any journalist concerning the basics of what actually happened that day. You rarely see a modern journalist stick so closely to the old-fashioned who/what/when approach.

On CNN, they rush to hand you opinion. In fairness, it's almost always of the wholly infallible kind. 

After that, the channel's stars let us know how much they love each other. We're supposed to believe the various statements made by these giant huge stars. 


22 comments:

  1. "Watching CNN's endless treatment of this incident, we were struck by the channel's lazy indifference to a basic journalistic task—the basic task of describing the basic facts of what actually happened on the day in question. CNN stars were much more eager to move ahead to statements of opinion."

    Those "CNN stars" are commentators not reporters. It is their job to speculate and express opinions, to analyze not report facts. Somerby typically pays not attention to job titles and thus ignores the division of labor within news organizations. It gives him yet another trivial quibble to smear cable hosts with, as he does here.

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  2. "We're supposed to believe the various statements made by these giant huge stars."

    Somerby never quotes those stars, so how are we supposed to know whether what they said was believable?

    ReplyDelete
  3. How does a single example of what Somerby considers to be good reporting show that anyone else at CNN was doing bad reporting? There are no examples of that supposedly bad reporting provided. Does Somerby seriously expect us to just take his word about them?

    ReplyDelete
  4. How can someone with their hand on the driver's side door handle be "pulled across the hood" of the car if it is moving backwards? That description makes no sense. And why wouldn't they let go?

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    Replies
    1. If the driver turns the wheel sharply to the right and backs up fast he will drag the car across the pedestrian.

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  5. I think it is a stretch to consider that anyone in that white van was in danger. That makes the justification for shooting Brown kind of shaky, in my opinion.

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  6. The D.A. said the officers were justified.

    Wikipedia says there's an FBI investigation.

    That's all there is to it. What else do you need, dear Bob?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As per (mostly) usual form, he's reporting on the media, you douche-nozzle.

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    2. You sound constipated, dear dembot. We wish you well and hope you'll recover soon.

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    3. Was the question of WHY the good guys with guns didn't shoot the cops ever answered?

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  7. "We were amazed by CNN's lazy indifference"

    Billionaires are indifferent to anything that doesn't increase their wealth. Expect indifference, even hostility towards everything else.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Another example of someone getting shot because people do not listen to the police officer.
    The problem with our country is that some people then blame the police instead of asking why has the suspect who was shot broken the law. If you don't live that kind of lifestyle in the first place, then you don't have issues with the police.

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  9. Twenty bucks says 12:53 tells people he believes in gun ownership because he doesn't trust the government.

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