Devalued Black Life

It was a cold February night, in the back alley of Dewayne's Variety store. Roman Castro was hugging his employee tightly and the heat from his body must have felt good to the employee.

It all started when Maleek Jones was taking the trash out when a police cruiser drove down and approached him. A heavily armed city prone to violence finds it only reasonable to give law officers weapons and the authority to use them. Police who received several weeks of academy firearms training augmented by one trip to the police firing range every year. Coupled with an individual officer's judgement, that is deemed expertise enough to make the right decision every time.

So where did the police go wrong? Maleek Jones took out his cell phone in order to use the flashlight feature was met with deadly force. The rookie cop felt his adrenaline rush as he removed his revolver and opened fire on the teenager. Two bullets hit him in the chest, and a third caught his neck. He fell to the ground dropping his flashlight all in one motion. Roman Castro came out of the store quickly and grabbed the employee and held him close. He felt the blood warming his leg, but that didn't stop him.

The rookie walked over with a confused look on his face. He did not holster the weapon, but he did determine that Castro was no threat. Prior to the shooting, there was no warning, but it really doesn't matter that a shouted warning concedes every advantage to the police. The rookie officer thought about the whispers of riots, the protests that grew louder when a couple of police officers shot and killed an unarmed woman during a robbery. The state's attorney's office declined to present the case to a grand jury, citing a lack of criminal intent on the part of the police officers.

He thought about what they would do in his case. He could swear on a stack of bibles that he fired his weapon because he feared for his own safety. And in the eyes of god almighty, he'd be telling the truth. Enough was enough, the question was whether the department was going to sacrifice one of its own rather than confront one of the most unavoidable truths about police work. The rookie officer would be a perfect scapegoat, and his newness would protect the myth of the department's infallibility. The rookie knew that the public was going to demand answers. In which he had none. Maleek Jones was dead and nothing had diminished its vividness, a teenage boy has bled out and the officer still hasn't radio for emergency assistance. He was trapped in his own nightmare. The cobweb of fear kept him stuck in one place. He was speechless and felt remorse, but his mind kept thinking of ways to clear his name. He wanted to be a good cop, not a killer.

In the morning the news hit the fan. Everyone and their uncle wanted their voice heard. They wanted justice for all past police involved shootings. They wanted confessions, and answers. For the public, and the black community, the shooting of Maleek Jones became a long awaited victory over a police department that was rumored to had for generations devalued black life. For the police on the streets, white and black, the Jones shooting became proof positive that they were now alone, and that the system could no longer protect them.


#

© 2015 Frank Atanacio

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Comments 51 comments

Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 23 months ago from Scotland

Your story reinforces my relief that there are no guns here. Well written Frank.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you anna :)


always exploring profile image

always exploring 23 months ago from Southern Illinois

You have written the true, hard facts. The police are too quick to act, but if they delay, they could be dead. It's a no-win situation. Poor Maleek. Another good one Frank!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much always... bless you


billybuc profile image

billybuc 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

Ruby hit it right on the head...it is a no-win situation. Someone has to do the dirty work and I'm sure glad it isn't me. Well done, Frank.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

This is a great story told with empathy. It's a difficult, stressful, low-paying job with not much appreciation or real rewards. Honest mistakes are made, and it's sad and wrong, especially when you're the one who was on one side of the firearm -- or the other.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks billybuc.. and flourish good to see you and i agree with you :)


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Life and death decisions in the hands of those who have just started out in life, is one hell of a way to run a society. But as your story shows, it is just the way it is.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you ericdierker


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

Hi Frank, You've painted a picture of cold hard reality for sure. I love how you set the scene in the beginning and then went right into the drama. Guess that's why they call it flash fiction. You are great at writing these ...could have given our eyes a bit of a break though without the one long paragraph and split it up into a couple or three : ) Try to stay warm like Roman there. Hugs and keep these coming ...you rock!


clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 23 months ago from Nibiru

That sounds just like america!...on point


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia

This story is very topical with the current climate of police vs black Americans Frank. It should have been expected that you addressed the matter with a story and a great one at that. It is sad that a life can be taken so easily. Well done.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks Clive and jodah fo reading my devalued black life


Smilealot 23 months ago

Awesome storytelling as usual Frank about a very sensitive and topical issue, well written my friend:-))


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks Vall errr smilealot :) good to see you old friend


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

Oh, don't worry about any of that dear heart, for there have been plenty of glitches here on HP here of late. I thought it may have been just how it looked on my phone, as I initially was reading from it. It looks perfect now. Just keep the great writing coming with your awesome self : )

Hugs and blessings


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

God blessed you Oh Faith


MsDora profile image

MsDora 23 months ago from The Caribbean

Story well told of the mess we're in. Innocent lives are taken. Crime fighters receive harsh judgment when they deserve understanding. God help us!


Lisawilliamsj profile image

Lisawilliamsj 23 months ago

Wow this is amazing! I really enjoyed it. It is sad that this is exactly how it happens, in the blink of an eye, one wrong decision, and so many lives are affected.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks msdora for checking out my story


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

Lisa thank you so much for reading ......


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Frank another well done, thought provoking write. If the recent cases in the U.S. was because the police feared for their lives I could understand; but in this situation like the real incident where an asthmatic man is choked to death for selling cigarettes, it begins to look like something is clearly rotten in the state of Denmark. Turning a blind eye or excusing it only makes it worst. Kudos to you for tackling the tough subject and doing it so very well.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much tobusiness :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 23 months ago from England

So glad I live in England where there are no guns, well at least police carrying them! scary stuff, and your story told it like it is, nice one!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton Author

Nell good to see you and happy new year.. thanks for reading my fiction


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 22 months ago from Georgia

Well done story. Too bad it has never been fiction. Only the names and the settings change. Take care and stay warm.


justateacher profile image

justateacher 22 months ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

Great story...and timely...too many officers have this exact scene play out way too often...


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 22 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

You gave a sad story and fact of life a great title.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 22 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Timely, hard hitting, and all too real. Bill and Ruby stated it best...it is a no-win situation, where life and death collide in a split second of misjudgement, and the horrible consequences. Sometimes I wonder if England, Scotland, and other countries have the right idea about no firearms. Where are we headed in this ongoing nightmare?


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 22 months ago from Somewhere in the West

Good one Frank good one! I won't say much as your story can interrogate somethings I have on my mind right now with the police home here. Sometimes its not the act but the action behind the act! Did you honestly think he was going to shoot at you or did you just want to show how much rank you have? Sometimes it is a matter of questioning the motivates.

Have an awesome evening with your Family.

~~Blessings~~


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton Author

Cyndi10 good to see you and thanks for reading..Justateacher thanks for stopping by and welcome mckbirdbks.. happy new year to you guys...


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you Genna East and my dear Lady Fidler for reading my devalued black life


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 22 months ago from California

Well written Frank--sad--though--the whole thing


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 22 months ago from Houston, Texas

Well written and very current subject matter sadly. Mistakes are definitely made and where lives are lost, that will always be a tragedy.

Police officers are also killed if they hesitate too long when confronted by danger which sometimes also happens. I would hate to be in their shoes and yet we all depend upon them when and if needed. It is a dangerous job!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton Author

I agree with you Peggy W


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton Author

Audrey good to see you happy new year


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 22 months ago from southern USA

Hi Frank,

I pray you are safe and warm through that blizzard up your way! I hope it bypasses you. Don't let Frosty get you ... : )

Warm hugs and blessings your way


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton Author

What a wonderful comment.. god bless you faith..... too late Frosty took me down... for the count.. but I have faith.. :)


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 22 months ago from West Virginia

On point my friend. Once again a great article. Hope all is well.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 22 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks lyric.. good seeing you bro


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 21 months ago from sunny Florida

Sadly your last line is so true. NO matter whether the police are right they are wrong. Every day they put their lives on the line...each time they walk up to a vehicle or rush into a building, they come face to face with their mortality. High stress with little compensation..it is amazing that men and women still want to be police officers.

Well done.

Angels are on the way to you this morning ps


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 20 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you for reading pstraubie :)


Keisha Hunter profile image

Keisha Hunter 19 months ago from Paradise and then some

One can only hope that the police force gets it right. Regardless of the reason, the result will threaten to bring anarchy.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 19 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks for reading Keisha


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 9 months ago from Shelton Author

Thanks again Faith :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 9 months ago from California

Such a controversial subject Frank! Leaving my own feelings out of it for a moment--really well written, and brave of you!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 9 months ago from Shelton Author

Good to see you Audrey, next month is poetry month so I guess Ill see you more often :) bless you


RJ Schwartz profile image

RJ Schwartz 9 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

Nice work Frank - it's right on the money with what many cities are facing today.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 9 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you rj Schwartz :)


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 9 months ago from LOS ANGELES

A very descriptive portrayal of what many black young men face in society today. All policemen are not racist just like all young-black men are not criminals. I second or, should I say third, it is a no-win situation.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 9 months ago from Shelton Author

Thank you so much Dana tate

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