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Two Families: Two Sons: Two Deaths

Updated on January 11, 2018

January 8, 2018

This morning I watched a single newscast, on my least favorite affiliate. I watched because it is my wife's favorite affiliate. Two stories caught my eye: both shootings which resulted in death, both young black men. One by authorities, one by a criminal. One family reacted much as those we have seen on television of late, with tears and questions, disbelief and demands. The other reacted in a different manner, reserved yet still with disbelief and questions. The questions, while similar in nature had far different ramifications. The difference between the situations could not be greater, the family reaction as opposite as day from night.

January 7, 2017 North Little Rock, Arkansas 1:00 AM

Police shoot a 17 year old black man during a traffic stop. Reportedly, the police stopped the vehicle due to some traffic violation, possibly a nonfunctioning light of some sort. Details are few thus far, with the only ones currently available being the youth was subjected to a pat down, during which a handgun was found. A struggle ensued with the youth firing at least one shot at or near the police officer. The officer reacted, shots were returned and the youth subsequently shot fatally. He died on the scene.

The mother of the youth was understandably upset, crying and demanding answers to the question of why. He was a good boy, a high school senor. He didn't deserve to die. Another person, who was in the car, related that he did not know why they were pulled over, that perhaps it was a light but all of the lights were working. He could not say why the gun was fired and seemed as confused as the mother as to why the 17 year old had to die.

The police have yet to fully comment, saying only that the officers involved have been placed on paid leave.


I saw this morning that the dash cam video from the police had been released in order to minimize the media reports that the youth was more innocent than he really was. Please watch this video and see for yourself what happened. I saw it on Yahoo News but could not open it (hmmm), then had to search for it as it was not on any newsfeed I usually read. Finally, I found the Youtube video, which speaks volumes.

The police, at least one of which sounds African American, are very calm, asking the youths were they were coming from (a party); were asked why they were going so darn fast; if they had anything the police should be concerned about like weed (after being told no a couple of times the victim finally admitted to having some); and if they could search the car. The perp then apparently yelled something about not going to jail, pulled the gun (after being told several times to keep his hands out of his pockets) and a struggle ensued. Three officers and the youth landed on the ground within inches of two other people from the car. The youth pulled the gun, shot two times before the gun jammed. He attempted to rack the slide to eject the jammed shell as the officers pulled their weapons and eliminated the threat. One bullet had to have been within mere inches of one of his friends, it appears.

To their credit, the other two seated on the ground did not charge or interfere in any way. Smart, fellows; very smart.

Had this video not surfaced, the media would have made the perp out as another Michael Brown, complete with the mother wailing, friends angry and Al Sharpton in attendance. They can still say he did nothing wrong, that he was a good boy but the facts are in, and he was guilty of doing the wrong thing: he had weed, an illegal gun and he failed to heed the police officers trying to help him, by giving him chance after chance to alert them to the fact he had the gun. Had he confessed and offered it to them, he would be in trouble,yes; but he would be alive.

Why is it so hard to "do the right thing"?

January 6, 2018 Omaha, Nebraska 2:00 AM

A 27 year old black man is shot at a lounge. Not by police, but by what is described as a robber. The criminal demands his jewelry, then the man is then shot dead. Again, the family has questions as to why. This time, it is a father asking the questions. He is calm as he asks why. No tears, although I knew he was crying on the inside. He is under control, earnest and we feel his obvious pain.

This man was a sergeant in the Army. He had survived tours in Afghanistan and Iraq (or Iran, I was unable to determine which it was), only to die while on leave to his home. He had plans to leave the next day for Las Vegas where he was to become a recruiter for the Army. He leaves behind a high school sweetheart and their five year old child. This sweetheart is also in the military, making a family dedicated to defending those weaker than themselves, dedicated to making the world a better place for all. She was routed on an 18 hour flight home to tell their child his father won't be coming home ever again.

While similar on the outside (young black men shot and killed) the circumstances could not be any different. One is a 17 year old out with friends late at night (too late?), pulled over by police (were they black or white?), who did not volunteer he had a gun on his person before being searched, who then struggled with police over the gun and fired a shot. Questions are rampant: why did this "good boy", who was out very late, have a handgun on his person? Why were they pulled over? Was it an honest stop, or was it racial profiling? Were they completely legal, driving the speed limit, all lights in good working order, not weaving or crossing the lines, or did they do something to bring the attention of the officers to them? Were they respectful to the officers once pulled over or were they argumentative, refusing to cooperate? At this time we do not know.

The situation with the young Army sergeant has questions also. Why was he where he was? Was he with friends and decided to leave when he was stopped by the gunman? Was the gunman a convicted criminal or a first time offender?

Was the gunman white or was he black?

Two young black men. Two shootings, two deaths. Two families devastated. But are they as similar as these statements make them out to be?

Opinions are like, well, you know: everybody has them. Mine are as follows. One, the young man in North Little Rock had no business being where he was, when he was, carrying what he had, arguing with who he did. Bottom line, he should not be dead but for his actions. I'm sorry, I truly am but it appears as though he got what he deserved. Why was he carrying a handgun at 17 years old? Was he really as good as his family says he was, or was he doing something he should not have been doing, going where he should not have been going, hanging with who he should not have been hanging with? Ultimately, had he not argued, had a gun, struggled with an officer of the law HE WOULD STILL BE ALIVE. While we do not know why he was where he was questions surrounding these details lead us (or maybe just me) to believe he was not behaving as I would expect my son to behave.

As to the other young black man, he apparently had done all the right things, behaved properly, led a good solid life. And yet, he is dead, just as dead as the other youth. But with him I wonder: was he celebrating with friends before leaving town, having a last cold one before beginning the next phase of his life? He had definite plans, plans any parent would be proud of. He did not have a gun on him, although in this circumstance perhaps had he had one things might have turned out differently. Being a sergeant in the Armed Forces would have giving him the training to turn the situation around, perhaps. Was the mugger an opportunist and him the luckless victim, or was he a target of something else? At this point, we do not know.

Ultimately we do not know, we can only surmise. To me, the 17 year old is a tragedy of his own making. The 27 year old Army sergeant was in the wrong place at the wrong time, attacked for his jewelry. Greed, simple greed resulted in his death. Or perhaps drugs: until the perpetrator is found and the reason given we will not know. But at this time it appears as though he was an innocent slaughtered and the other youth killed due to his own choices.

Harsh I know; but at some point we all have to take responsibility for our actions and stop pushing them off on others. Had the 17 year old boy not made the choice to carry a gun, struggle with an officer then shoot at him he would still be alive.

The "What If" game is the hardest game in the world to play.

We, in America, are reaching a crisis. People shot and killed, families crying foul whether or not a foul has been committed. To a degree, it reminds me of another time in our history where a minority of the population cried out, loudly and with apparent conviction towards a portion of society that failed to protect itself properly, resulting in the deaths of a number of innocent people. While the old saying "Saying it don't make it so" holds water, at times saying it makes it so. "He was a good boy" may not be a true statement yet those who acted against this "good boy" are denounced, arrested or even worse. The accurate title for this is a witch hunt, and stems from the olden days of Salem. People were accused and based upon others saying so, they were put to death. Some by hanging, at least one by being crushed to death beneath stones for refusing to admit his guilt. Our media today reminds me of that time, crying foul and accusing others of crimes they may not have committed, then leaving it all behind for them to deal with if the proof is never found, never admitting their own guilt in the process.

When will all guilty parties be held accountable? When will all innocent parties be vindicated? When will those responsible take responsibility for their actions?


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    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 3 months ago from Missouri

      Thank you Gentlemen for your comments. I ask, yet do not have nor expect, any answers. It pains my soul to see these men dead, the families hurting, their futures nonexistent. And for what? A little bit of weed and an illegal gun on one hand, and a few baubles on the other. Both avoidable, both tragedies: one by choice, one not.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I have no answers for your questions, my friend. There are many out there who think they have answers, but I find their credibility is only tied into how loudly they can shout. All I know is I'm tired of the killing. Will it end soon? No chance! Will the true stories be told by media? Not likely. All I can do is try to be a positive influence on those I am in contact with.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 3 months ago from Canada

      In societies much smaller than that one of the US violent crimes are happening on a regular basis. It's a simple fact that some individuals will resort to violence due to their innate or acquired nature. Why is it that even governments will do merciless killings on a large scale?

      It's useless to ask these questions---all until humans evolve some more. With a part of the brain still being animalistic---with tendencies of territoriality, arrogance, greed, need for "alpha-status" in the herd, we are even biologically predisposed to violent behavior.

      It's a tragedy when anybody dies that way, young or old, but, like I say, nothing is really happening in the US that's not happening in any other part of the world inhabited by humans.

    • emge profile image

      Madan 3 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      Interesting questions are raised. I appreciate your concern, but I have a question. There is something rotten on the spiritual side in America. So many killings white or black, but yes, there is racial profiling. It will go on till America can heal itself spiritually. To me, it does not look likely and that is a sign of a decadent society in the last throes of death.