To say that neither Alton Sterling nor Philando Castile was innocent–and to suggest that they deserved to have deadly force used against them just because of their criminal past–is unreasonable, barbaric, and offensive.
However, in the same way that some are hinting at justification for the killings of Sterling and Castile because of their previous involvement with crime, others are now justifying the killing of police officers because of what many consider the questionable conduct of some in law enforcement in communities around our nation (which others, including myself, see as an equally abhorrent position).
We must have consistency in our thinking.
Regardless of who is guilty, whether it be the police or the victims, video of the incidents involving Sterling and Castile is hard to watch. It’s simply gut-wrenching to watch video of Sterling’s son, overcome with emotion, during the press conference addressing his father’s death. Even more disturbing is the fact that Castile was shot right in front of his girlfriend and her 4 year-old daughter.
All that being said, we don’t have all the facts. The investigation is still underway, and none of the videos released to the public can stand alone and sufficiently tell either story.
It is interesting that these shootings coincide with FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to suggest charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We’ve seen the same paradigm of “assume first, check facts later” in that investigation as we see now in the wake of recent police shootings.
Republicans concluded months ago that Hillary Clinton should be indicted for her email misconduct, while Democrats and others had concluded that Clinton deserved no prosecution. This was, of course, well before the federal investigation was completed.
Likewise, the families and communities of both Sterling and Castile have sided with their deceased love ones, while others side with the police officers by default. I’ve written about how this has become a natural response, to protect our own at all costs. But we must, as much as humanly possible, accept the fact that “one of our own” can be capable of error. We must approach facts straightforwardly, without too much of a predetermined disposition.
We also must realize that the grieving families of two dead men are seeking an indictment against those police officers before the investigations have been completed–just as Republicans did with Hillary Clinton’s emails.
We need consistency in our thinking, and we must, to some extent, allow investigations to make the right conclusions.