Last week was one in which the fact that officer Richard Haste violated every aspect of NYPD protocol, to achieve a situation in which he “was convinced [he] wasn’t going to make it out of,” forcing him to shoot and kill an unarmed black man, was perhaps the most tragic occurrence of the week, but not quite the most comic. That honorific went to the New York Times’ editorial board, for declaiming the Chicago Police Department’s “well-documented history of violence.”
Failing to recognize the irony in writing “Chicago,” when they should have written “New York,” the writers listed several “unconstitutional actions” of the Chicago PD, that stumbling blindfold, in the dark, they could have found applied to the NYPD: “shooting at cars and fleeing suspects without justification” was one of the “actions” to which I am curtailing myself to commenting on, since this is only a 500-word blog.
After officers fired 50 shots at Sean Bell, killing him, it became accepted fact that Bell had backed his vehicle into an undercover officer, forcing the officer to fire his weapon in defense. But some definite facts, not simply accepted ones, revealed that: ballistic evidence was missing from the crime scene; CSU failed to control the scene, allowing numerous officers to contaminate it; a dent was removed from Bell’s vehicle before it could be photographed; and no paint samples were taken to see where the dent came from, leaving one to wonder why some “facts” become accepted and others not.
After Bell’s death, the department reemphasized that firing at fleeing vehicles was prohibited, even when a vehicle is being used as a weapon, leading to some fairly incredible flights of logic: when Lieutenant John Chell approached the driver of a stolen vehicle, the driver sped off, knocking Chell down, according to the lieutenant. The driver, however, in his haste, steered his vehicle into a 270-degree spin, allowing the slowly falling Chell to accidentally shoot him through the passenger window, causing the driver’s death.
Equally as improbable was Detective Hassan Hamdy shooting Noel Polanco as Polanco was reaching under the driver’s seat for a power drill, according to Hamdy, because, to borrow from Sean Connery, everyone knows that Latinos bring power tools to a gunfight. Or the New York City Medical Examiner declaring that Michael Walker died from a gunshot to the back when Detective Gregory Gordon swore Walker first fled, but then turned around towards Gordon with a gun when Gordon shot him; those crazy Medical Examiners!
Sorry for my flippancy, but the Times appears to be having a laugh at our expense, which is quite tragic. As the paper of record, it cannot afford to succumb to the propaganda that the NYPD are the “Finest;” while they may be, they’re not perfect, and as the department consistently scants correcting faults that lead to “avoidable” deaths, the Times can’t afford to recognize the splinter in Chicago’s eye while not seeing the beam in New York’s.