Fort Lauderdale police shot two men, killing one of them, yesterday afternoon off Sistrunk Boulevard. The best coverage comes from the Miami Herald, which put five reporters -- four of them bylined -- on the story. They identified the dead guy and his passenger and got a lot more detail than the Sun-Sentinel which had a single bylined reporter (Sofia Santana) and two contributors for its front-page story. In other words, the Sentinel got its ass handed to it on a police shooting story in its own backyard. Santana, a good reporter, isn't to blame; short-sighted management is.
The men were in a stolen ("possibly carjacked") SUV at the time. Some witnesses said that after patrol officers stopped the vehicle it moved toward them, putting them in danger. The driver was definitely shot dead in his seat while the passenger, identified by the Herald as Travis Jackson, wound up outside the vehicle. That man's aunt, one Genise Bradshaw, told the Herald that he was shot in the back and was in stable condition. Santana also reported that three separate witnesses told her that the passenger was "wounded in the
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If that is true, it doesn't bode well for the police who did the shooting. Alleging that they were scared of being run over is tenuous enough for the use of deadly force, but then to shoot an unarmed guy (all indications are that the men had no weapons) running away, well, that's not real defensible. We'll wait until the facts come in before making any conclusions, though.
It's the fourth deadly shooting by FLPD personnel in the past six months. Among the most questionable of the cases is the killing of a mentally disturbed 17-year-old who had a stick in his hand. Another was a guy with a bicycle and a saw.
I've dealt with Fort Lauderdale police on a few occasions and can tell you it's a mixed bag. They have some excellent and dedicated cops working there, for sure. But there's also a particularly virulent strain of asshole that can be found in that force that's pretty despicable. I don't know whether it's the latter that's responsible for these killings, but for whatever reason it looks like there's a bunker mentality building at FLPD that is leading to what appears to be unnecessary blood spilling on the ground.
But who cares? What we need are more dead young black males! Read the comments at the Sun-Sentinel to see the level of intellect people are bringing to this issue. And do you know the really scary thing? I bet you half of the nastier responses ("Too bad they didn't finish off the passenger also!") are coming from law enforcement types.