Have I ever mentioned that Rashomon is one of my all-time favorite movies? I adore the storytelling device of multiple perspectives, even when its done for laughs like that episode of 21 Jump Street that was more or less my introduction to the very concept years before I actually saw the Kurosawa film. My sociology class at university even gave me one of my absolute favorite commercials for anything.
I bring this up because there’s a lot of misinformation going around regarding what led to Jacob Blake being paralyzed by Kenosha‘s “finest.” Before anyone jumps in with a remark about circumstances, please do me a favor and look up Yaroub Assad. Come back when you’re done. Ready? Here we go.
Hopefully I don’t need to link anybody to the first of the two videos about Blake’s shooting, as it’s the most widely circulated by news outlets (also WordPress paywalls can kiss the darkest part of my snow-white ass). Blake is walking around his SUV from at least the rear passenger door around to the driver’s door, whereupon he opens it and leans in. This entire time, a cop is closely following him with his gun drawn and trained. There are other cops on the scene, but only one is tailing him. The officer is issuing verbal commands which Blake is ignoring. Blake opens the car door and leans in, at which point the officer shoots him in the back, and the other officers close in and join in the shooting. The keyword I invite you all to pay attention to is “time.”
Later, a second video emerges, with some media outlets framing it as “shedding new light” on the situation. This is giving it a lot of credit, given there’s a small crowd in the way for most of it, and at best we can only confirm that Blake was closer to the rear wheel of the car when he started walking. That is, it’s probably the part of the video most people watching it will agree on, but it’s all we need for the point I’m going to make.
I shouted into the void, and by void I mean Twitter:
My question was answered by a “right of centre, ex-Forces, open-minded, world-traveling, and self-confessed opinionated twat” with two letters and a string of numbers for a username. There may well be an obvious meaning to it, but I don’t care, and numbers don’t seem to matter to him anyway.
So, they did panic? The TRAINED officers of the law panicked in the presence of an unarmed civilian between the time he walked around from the right passenger side of his car to the front driver’s side door and went straight from verbal commands to deadly force? Obviously, I don’t expect my law enforcement to be made of stone and possess superhuman thinking speed, but I do expect them to be able to wait at least a few seconds after they say, “Show me your hands” before emptying their magazines, maybe even… oh, I dunno, not shooting at unarmed people after issuing them a command, giving them time to follow the command. That’s a lie; I do know. I don’t need to be an officer to understand that when I tell someone to show me their hands and then immediately start shooting, I’m doing something wrong. Anyway, my user icon ended up being an adept expression of my sentiment at this response.
A common defense of police in these situations is the officer in question needing to consider a number of possibilities and factors all in the span of a few moments. You’d think given how often this is likely to happen in the field, they’d hopefully spend as much time practicing their aim as their deescalation tactics. At this point, I honestly wonder if officers are legitimately taught any sort of hand-to-hand maneuvers. Are they only taught chokeholds? I never thought I’d be saying that would possibly have been a better alternative to what happened to Jacob Blake. The part about “verbal persuasion till the last moment” is what stood out to me, and not because of the notion of “GET ON THE GROUND!” not exactly what I would call persuasive. Semantics aside, it was hard not to think of that scene from Demolition Man where Wesley Snipes challenges the “or else” part of a deescalation tactic that isn’t really a deescalation tactic, though it’s arguably more persuasive than “GET ON THE GROUND!”. My question is what steps are there between “verbal persuasion” and “eat lead”? I figured an “Ex-Forces” guy would be able to fill in that gap for me.
Well, the “clear signs of non compliance” doesn’t really address the intermediate steps question raised. Rather, it almost low-key bolsters the “SHOW ME YOUR HANDS-BANG! BANG! BANG!” problem we described earlier. If not for the “no time” follow-up, that busted record of a retort might have been the end of the discussion. Time for a challenge.
Let’s set aside some of the other details of the altercation, like the cops having wrestled Jacob to the ground, putting him in a headlock, and being tased. You’d think when he situation has gone that far, letting him get up and walk away would be… well, kind of a dumb thing to do. Maybe he yelled out that he couldn’t breathe. I’ve heard that works wonders in these situations.
Quark loses track of the conversation and writes a second reply to my previous comment rather than replying to the “verbal persuasion” to time the walk from one side of the vehicle to the other. He also takes the time for an ad hominem because, as we’ll learn, I struck a nerve by asking him to count.
Oh! “Pleas”! “Pleeeease, Mr. Black Man, PLEEEEASE! I’ll be your frieeeeeeend!” Communication, too? Good, we all know that’s essential to any working relationship. Wait, what are instructions if not communication? Are the pleas also separate from that communication or was it part of the instruction? I know Twitter doubled its character limit, but that’s no reason to engage in redundancy. It just makes you look like you’re avoiding the issue, which you are.
It’s worth noting at this point another challenger entered the fray to point out that Jacob Blake had a knife when he was walking around his car. This was news to me, so I looked into it, and found some conflicting information (I’ll do some more fact-checking before committing them to links). The closest thing we seem to have to direct evidence is the video, which is rather blurry. According to the eyewitness who shot that video, he heard the officer tell Blake to drop the knife, but did not see one himself. Blake is definitely holding something, but I have my doubts. It raises a few questions, though regarding what preceded Blake walking around his car, those details we mentioned before. According to this same eyewitness, multiple officers had him on the ground, with one having him in a headlock while another officer tased him. My question is, given all that, how did he get up and walk away? Did he overpower them? That discussion is a tangent for another day (it’s still technically in progress at the time of this writing). Let’s check back in on 8675309:
Okay, not the numbers I was expecting from someone with the benefit of an outside perspective as well as a background in the military. Maybe he’s “ex” for a reason, couldn’t solve for it. His command of punctuation isn’t helping me believe otherwise, either. I wonder what his English homework looked like when he was asked to write a persuasive essay. Since I don’t have any numbers to work with, I had to make do:
To recap, “He had only a split second!” is followed by “Several seconds elapsed.” and this is supposed to convince me of duress how? Either he had no time, or he had enough time, which is it? Anyone can count the time it takes for him to walk to the driver’s side of his car and see it’s more than a “split-second.” If you’re trained to make a decision based on multiple factors in as split second while under duress, then neither of those things should be an excuse when a bad decision is made.
The cops screwed up. It’s that simple. This was a bad situation made worse, just like with Rayshard Brooks.
Tune in next week when a “2A Educator” shares his insights on police proceedings and the power of eyewitness testimony.
… I just checked my messages after writing that sentence to make sure I was quoting his profile slug correctly and…
Time to take some screenshots before the fallout from this nuke reaches my location. Additionally, another comment from Wolf-359 found its way into an almost random part of the discussion. I’m honestly not sure what he meant this to be in response to given by that point Ghosty-McPhoenix had joined the thread. It says it’s replying to me (no mention of PHOENIIIIIIX, though that’s the nuke talking), but we’ve already established most complex tasks are just beyond his grasp.