Rap video leads to one of the strangest police shootings on record

Another “unarmed black man shot by police” story has cropped up in Los Angeles but this one includes all manner of strangeness, involving social media, a washed up rap group and some very poor decision making. It apparently all started when one of the members of the rappers known as Brownside released a video on social media, ostensibly as part of the group’s effort to stage a comeback. The subject matter of the short video was far beyond simply troubling or controversial when viewed in the context of police-community interactions of late. Rather than describe it, you can watch the copy posted online by one California cop.


This had the cops on high alert after news of the video made the rounds of the local precincts, leaving everyone on edge until one squad car’s rear window exploded a short while later. (Washington Post)

Van Nuys patrol officers were stopped at a traffic light, waiting to make a turn onto Victory Boulevard from Sepulveda Boulevard. Suddenly the rear window of their patrol car exploded. Both officers believed that they were being fired upon, verbalized that to each other and exited their vehicle. Their attention was drawn to a suspect who was standing on Sepulveda Boulevard immediately to the rear of the black and white police vehicle. The officers stated that the individual was pointing his hand towards them at above waist level holding an unknown dark object. Taken together with the other circumstances the officers believed this individual posed an imminent threat to them. At that time, an officer involved shooting occurred.

There are two parts to this story which really should be examined independent of each other. First of all, if you post a video of yourself pulling up behind a cop and gripping a very large handgun, precisely what did you think was going to happen? The rapper in question was later taken into custody, though he claims the gun was a prop, not an actual weapon. (Looking at the video, it’s probably true, but still an incredibly stupid move.) If you want to see some more of this rap group’s work to get an idea of the “social message” they are putting forward, check out this short video.

While the release of such a threatening video as the one which popped up on Twitter should obviously have the PD on high alert, they still have to respond to each individual situation they encounter on a case by case basis. That brings us to the actual shooting. Two cops are sitting in their squad car and suddenly their rear window explodes. They get out and see a guy standing behind them in the road raising his hand up toward them holding… something. Again, what do you think is going to happen? And this wasn’t some random citizen on his way to the mini-mart for cigarettes. He decided to throw a 40 oz. beer bottle at a cop car and smashed out the rear window. There will no doubt be a full investigation of this one, but it’s hard to have too much sympathy for the guy who got shot in this case. That’s just a Darwin Award nominee in the making if you ask me.

But not all the news for the police is bad this month. I’ll just take a moment out here to offer a tip of my hat to Red Wing, Minnesota, which has voted to encourage Washington to make the shooting of Police Officers a hate crime.

In a place of no more than 20,000 people, where brick storefronts and Victorian houses dominate the streetscape, the city council has passed a resolution calling on the federal government to classify the injury or killing of police officers as a hate crime, a classification generally defined not by occupation but by race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.

In its “Resolution in Support of Law Enforcement,” the council notes that police officers have recently become the victims of targeted attacks. In closing, council president Dean Hove signs, “Now therefore be it resolved that the City of Red Wing, Minnesota stands together with the Red Wing Police Department and officers nationwide. Together we are united.”

As I’ve said here repeatedly over the years, I am not a believer in so called “hate crimes.” An activity is either legal or it’s illegal, and what you were thinking or saying at the time of the activity is your own business. But since we live in the Hate Crime Era and there is apparently no stopping the Social Justice Warriors in their crusade… why not? Let’s all get in on the party with the rest of the confused masses. If we’re gong to be stuck with having “hate crimes” on the books I can think of no better one than shooting a uniformed police officer in the line of duty. I’ve long been a proponent of making such a heinous act an automatic death penalty case under federal law, even covering cases in states where they don’t have the death penalty.

Good for you, Red Wing. We could use some positive news on this front from time to time.