Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Monday, September 19, 2016

No, He Didn't "Deserve It"

Like so many other cities and towns, my hometown of Columbus has its statistically-higher-than-expected share of black citizens shot and killed by police.  Last Wednesday, in a widely-reported case, 13 year-old Tyre King was shot dead as he was chased by a Columbus police officer.

Shortly after, a good friend mentioned the incident and told me "The kid got what he deserved.  He was doing bad shit, hanging with a bad crowd and robbing people."

There can be no doubt that Tyre King was doing bad things Wednesday night.  But I will respectfully disagree that he deserved to be killed for it.

King had a plastic BB gun, a pistol which was remarkably similar to the real thing in appearance and size.  He showed the BB gun to a three of his teenage friends and told them he wanted to use it to rob someone for money.  The group held up a man and took $10 from him.  The man called 911 to report the crime and said one of the robbers had a pistol.

Police responded quickly and the boys had not gone far.  The officers descended on the group.  King and another boy fled, but the officers caught them and ordered them to get down on the ground.  Both boys complied, but then Tyre King got up and ran again.  An officer gave chase and fired three to five shots, killing King on the spot.

Police say King had removed his BB gun from his waistband as he ran away.  There is no indication that King pointed his toy gun at anyone or even raised it.  There were no body cameras in use by the officers involved.

The officer who killed him, Bryan Mason, has a history of discharging his weapon.  King is the fourth person Mason has shot in nine years with the CPD, and the second person he has killed.

Tyre King and his friends did some really stupid stuff.  Armed robbery is a crime, but it's not punishable by death.  Possession of the realistic BB gun may have been a crime, but not one punishable by death.  Fleeing the police and resisting arrest may be crimes, but are not punishable by death.  Tyre King was a kid, just 13, an 8th-grader.

Tyre King did his stupid stuff in the wrong part of town, where the cops assume the worst and where some of the cops, like Bryan Mason, shoot first and ask questions later.  Among all the options available to Officer Mason in this case of a $10 robbery, he chose the lethal one -- and in this instance, he chose it three, four or five times in a row.

Tyre King may have deserved many things, but he didn't deserve to be shot and killed. 

American police departments are in need of immediate retraining, and they refuse to admit it. 

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