About that NYT "police shoot teen-age girl as Chauvin convicted" narrative ...

About that NYT "police shoot teen-age girl as Chauvin convicted" narrative ...

The first rule in dealing with shooting stories: wait for the evidence. The New York Times failed to follow that first rule, whether out of ignorance or an intent to drive a narrative. Their report on a police shooting in Columbus, Ohio drew an equivalency between that incident and the George Floyd homicide, which turned out to be entirely specious:

A teenage girl who the police say threatened two girls with a knife was fatally shot by an officer in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before a jury reached a guilty verdict in the murder trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in last year’s killing of George Floyd.

The girl’s death cast an immediate pall over public expressions that justice had been served in Mr. Floyd’s case and touched off protests in Ohio’s capital city.

Actually, they didn’t break that first rule. They watched the evidence, and kept the narrative anyway:

At a news conference on Tuesday night, the Columbus Division of Police released body camera footage from the officer, who officials said had been responding to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing around 4:45 p.m. in the southeastern part of the city.

Officials said the video showed the teenager lunging at two other females with a knife as the officer arrived at the driveway of a residence. The officer then fired several times — four shots could be heard in the video — at the girl. She collapsed to the ground next to a car that had been parked in the driveway, where the body camera footage showed a knife on the ground.

In other words, this incident bears no relation at all to the George Floyd case. His death came while he was in custody and restrained already, posing no immediate threat to officers or anyone else. Floyd also hadn’t committed a violent crime, with a knife or any other kind of weapon. As he presented no lethal threat, lethal force should not have been used against him, which is why Derek Chauvin got convicted in his death yesterday.

In contrast, as the body-cam footage clearly shows, Columbus police rolled up in the middle of an ongoing attack. The woman they shot had a knife and was just about to use it on someone else despite officers’ warnings to stop:

One Twitter user got a freeze-frame screenshot that shows why police fired:

What were police supposed to do — allow the teenager to stab another black woman right in front of them? Remember that this happened just as they came up to the scene, having been called to deal with a violent situation. They had no time to separate people or apply any control to the situation. The deceased had a knife and appeared ready to stab someone else with it, which is a situation in which lethal force can be properly applied. In fact, it’s the very situation for which police carry lethal weapons — to protect others from imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm. From the video and that freeze-frame image, the officer had less than a second to act in order to prevent a potentially fatal stabbing from taking place in front of them.

The New York Times spends paragraphs going into the tragic background of the attacker. She was in the foster-care system and had a very hard and unhappy life, which no doubt contributed to her series of poor decisions yesterday. While every bit of that is lamentable, it’s also not applicable to the police response. They faced a lethal threat right in front of them, one that did not respond to their commands, and they acted to save someone else’s life.

Instead of telling the truth about this shooting, the New York Times and likely other media outlets want to exploit it for their own political purposes — even when they have seen the evidence and it negates that narrative. Recently, journalists lamented a poll showing that their consumers didn’t share their priorities in narrative-building and didn’t trust them to report the facts. This story exemplifies why consumers feel that way, and why they’re smarter than the sneering editorial class presumes in that reaction.

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