Police Shooting

Police shootings always seem to be the topic of controversy, and it always seems to be pushed by people who were not there when it actually occurred. As a police officer, I've seen several stories get twisted in the media; stories I had first hand knowledge of. Yet its the twist or story that causes the most drama and controversy that makes the headlines of every paper and news cast. And in police work, that usually equals a white officer shooting a black man.

Lets take a look at a case involving a black man who was fatally shot by police officers on November of 2006 in New York. Most of the headlines read something like "Man shot on his wedding day," which really doesn't have anything to do with the case, but it sounds so cruel and sad that people gasp when they read the first line.

In fact, when I first read about this case in our local newspaper (on the front page), it wasn't until I got to the very end of the article (no longer on the front page) that I started learning about what actually happened, or allegedly happened the "night" of the incident.  The first 3/4's were about his dreams, his wedding day, that he's decided to make a change in his life, and how the police shot this unarmed man for no apparent reason.  In fact, until that last 1/4 of the article, I was under the assumption (the way the article was written) that it was a gang of white officers that shot this man for no reason what-so-ever.
Ahh, but then I got to the end.  That's where I read that an officer involved in the police shooting was actually hit or "rammed" by the vehicle that this man was driving which led to the officers firing.  In addition, officers had said they believed the man also had a gun.  Of course, had I stopped reading and not actually take the time to turn the page and find the rest of the article, I wouldn't have read that information.
As I continued to read, I also learned that it wasn't just white officers, but in fact, black officers and Hispanics who also fired their weapons.  Of course that wasn't in the main headlines, but put in the very back.
Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't there either, so who am I to say what actually happened?  None of what I read could be true.  The police could in fact be totally in the wrong, I don't know.  I wasn't there.  But its always interesting to me why most media will choose a headline that make the police look like they just did the unthinkable, putting more of the facts or allegations that benefit the police at the "end" of the article.  Why is that?  Was there police shooting videos released on the case?
Believe it or not, I've come to understand the media and understand their reasoning especially when it comes to a police shooting.  Its a business, plain and simple.  Although I don't agree with it, I understand it.  They do this to sell their papers, sell ads, etc. by keeping people interested in their articles, by creating drama.  And drama sells.  But on the other side of the coin, it continues to make people think police are all bad, a bunch of cowboy cops and trigger happy thugs.
But for the point of this article, the next time you read a police related story, read the whole article, not the just the first couple of paragraphs.  Maybe even read other articles from different papers, news media, etc. to get a wider view.  These articles, just like this one, is based on the views of the author, something that people need to take into account.  If the writer doesn't like the police, its pretty likely the article is going to have statements like "police shoot unarmed man" and "man had dreams" and "police officer had prior discipline," etc, etc.  Food for thought.  :)

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