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It is such a minor thing, but when we’re dealing with inflammatory situations like this — words matter. You suggest that “police killed” the suspect — the “police” didn’t kill anyone. Another human being named Officer Brentley Vinson killed another human being named Keith Lamont Scott. It shouldn’t matter that both men were African-American — but for some reason, we’ve all decided that it does.

Officer Vinson graduated from high school just four years ago — two years later he joined the police force and since then has had a spotless record. His teachers and football coaches all suggest he was a leader in the community — he was captain of his football team and received a scholarship to college for academics.

Keith Scott, on the other hand, had a violent criminal record spanning three states including Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina — including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His first conviction was for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor — the result of a plea bargain. His most recent conviction was for evading arrest with a vehicle.

The shooting may or may not have been justified — the courts will ultimately decide. In the meantime, it seems more than reasonable to give Officer Vinson the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, two African-American men met in a parking lot — one was a police officer with a spotless record — the other was a convicted felon — one ended up dead and the other claims it was self-defense.

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