We can look forward to the usual rounds of protests after the shooting of a black woman by police in Norfolk, Virginia yesterday, but barring some criminal malfeasance on the part of the cops or a serious twist in the tale, an investigation of the facts should see this one dismissed fairly quickly. The 25 year old female in question attracted the attention of narcotics officers when she was involved in a fight in a parking lot. When the officers approached, the woman was seen to be holding what appeared to be a gun and she brandished it at the cops. What happened next is pretty much what you’d expect. (Yahoo News)
Investigators with the Norfolk Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division were conducting a surveillance operation when they came across a fight in a parking lot, police said.
The officers saw a woman involved in the altercation brandish what they believed was a handgun and threaten an unarmed man. The officers approached India M. Beaty, who refused to comply with their demands and made a threatening motion with the handgun before the officers fatally shot her, the department said.
An investigation determined that the handgun was a non-firing replica.
After the initial reports hit the national news, NewsChannel 3 from Hampton Roads dug up more details. The woman had previously lost a brother to “a shooting” but since it’s not specified who the killer was we can likely assume that one wasn’t police related. The mother is understandably distraught, but is insisting that her daughter wouldn’t do such a thing and saying that one witness claimed there wasn’t even a gun.
They also obtained a police photo of the “non-firing replica” in question.
While anything sufficiently similar to a weapon in a situation like this can lead to catastrophic results, there’s also a clear distinction between a “toy” gun that you’d get from the dollar store for your kid and a replica weapon. There is no orange plug on the end of the barrel or the grip such as you find on an Airsoft model. That replica with a four inch barrel looks sufficiently like a fully functional handgun to get anyone’s attention even in broad daylight. And what is the basis for any allegations regarding the officers in this case? Is someone going to suggest they planted the weapon on her? If you’re going to dirty up a crime scene one would assume that you’d at least plant a real gun.
This incident took place at 1:20 in the morning in an area under surveillance for drug trafficking. Given the lighting conditions I would hope that no sane person would expect the officers to stand there and keep chatting while someone pointed that replica at them. But even if it was a much less convincing toy, that’s really not the point here, is it? The general rule of thumb when dealing with the police is that it’s always best to comply with any instructions you are given first, ask questions once the tension is defused and consult an attorney if you feel the final resolution was unfair or illegal. At no time is the acceptable option one which involves grabbing something that looks even remotely like a weapon and pointing it at the cops.When that happens, you’re going to get shot and very possibly killed. End of story.
The officers were removed from active duty as per normal protocol while the shooting is investigated. That’s as it should be. But if there is (hopefully) dash cam or body cam video of the encounter available showing the woman pointing the replica weapon at the cops, I hope the city releases it immediately. If they don’t we’re likely to have yet another municipality shut down with marches, protests and chanting at a minimum.