Thursday, September 15, 2016

My thoughts on Tyre King, the 13 year old who pulled a BB gun on a cop and got killed for it.

A BB gun similar to the one that King was carrying. Police handout/Reuters. 

As you may know the latest Black Lives Matter cause was the death of Tyre King. King was a 13 year old who was shot by police who were responding to an armed robbery call. King pulled out a BB gun similar to the one above and got shot for it. The gun looked like a real one and had a laser scope attached to it. Reuters has an article about it here. 

Though I don't have all the details yet and we should always wait until an investigation is completed before we jump to conclusions I do have a few things to say about the circumstances of the crime. This case, like the Tamir Rice shooting before it, looks completely justified in my mind. Again, we don't have all the details right but if the police story is correct and he really did pull a BB gun on the cops, I think this is justified.  Why? Here's a few reasons:

1. BB Guns can look extremely real. I own a couple and one of them looks almost identical to a 1911 .45. Unless you look at it really close you would think it was a real firearm. The only differences is that it doesn't have a detachable magazine and the barrel is a lot narrower. Neither of those things would be obvious unless you had the gun in your hand. Worse, the gun that King had a laser sight attached, which would make it look even more realistic. 

2. Even BB guns can main or even kill. Though dying from a BB gun is extremely rare it is fairly easy to hurt someone severely with one. A (un)lucky shot to the eye could permanently blind someone and if the BB manages to get a little penetration, it could hit an artery or vein. I had a negligent discharge with a BB gun when I was younger and I had to go to the hospital. Preventing yourself from being shot with a BB gun would justify lethal force even if you knew it was a BB gun. 

3. Pointing a gun at another person is an invitation to get shot by them. Pointing a gun at another person is a serious crime in my state and for good reason. I put someone into prison because of this when I served on a jury, even though I sympathized with the circumstances he was in. I don't care if the person you point a gun at is a cop or a civilian but if you do it, then they are morally correct to shoot you dead. 

4. Just because someone is still a child does not mean they are not a threat. Once again, if someone is pointing a gun at you, it doesn't matter who that person is. They are threatening your life and you are justified in killing them. 

5. Cops are never going to use less than lethal force against someone pointing a gun at them. Tazers and pepper spray aren't 100% effective and are not the weapon you want in a gun fight. If you waste time when someone is drawing down on you, you are dead. To ask cops to do this is to ask them to commit suicide. 

6. Kids need to be taught that BB guns are not toys, they are weapons. I know that one of the few times that my Dad really chewed me out when I was a kid is when I was playing around with his BB gun. He read me the riot act saying that I would, in no uncertain terms, never do so again. He explained to me that BB guns look real, and are dangerous in their own right, and that if people saw me playing with it they might get scared and call the cops, who would probably shoot me. Though I don't know if such a speech would have helped Tyre King, it's a conversation that every parent should have with their kids if they buy them a BB gun or even think that they might come into contact with one. If they don't then they are largely responsible for when something like this happens. You can't blame the cop and you can't really blame the kid either if he didn't know what was up. 

With all that being said, it is still too early in this story to really understand what happened. It is possible, though unlikely, that the cops really did screw up here in some way. That doesn't change anything I just wrote, but it could be a mitigating factor and may actually give the protesters some actual grievance. 

As it stands right now, this is a nightmare scenario for the cops. I know no police officer wants to shoot a kid, but also, no cop wants to be shot by a kid. Without evidence to say otherwise, I think the cop was justified in this case, but that doesn't mean that what happened was a good thing. I just don't understand why anyone would pull a gun on a cop, even if it is a BB gun... 

1 comment:

  1. and nothing would hit the national news if they weren't black kids. Yes, I know, I am a racist. I was born that way. A white male is automatically racist.