Baton Rouge Shooting

I try not to comment on police shootings like the Alton Sterling Shooting until more is known.  With the sketchy information available one can argue either side of the equation because there isn’t enough information available. That is why the police conduct investigations.  Keep in mind the press doesn’t have any more insight into what happened than anybody else.

Here is what I see:

Sterling was selling bootleg CD’s, criminal activity.  Okay not the crime of the century but never the less, criminal activity.

The (manager) or somebody else tried to move Sterling along, off the property.  Assuming that the person had the authority to tell Sterling to leave, Sterling’s refusal  may constitute a new offense Criminal Trespass. Still a misdemeanor but another crime added to the list.

To reinforce his refusal, Sterling then displayed a handgun to the person that confronted him.  In Texas Criminal Trespass while armed can bump the offense level to a felony. The gun, in and of itself, could constitute another offense.

Sterling is confronted by the police. Sterling is non compliant to the point that the police TASER him, possibly twice, to no effect.  The police have probable cause to arrest Sterling and they set out to do just that.  They tackle him and wrestle him to the ground.  Sterling resists arrest.

There are different types of resistance. The Hollywood, “Lethal Weapon” type resistance is where the hero and the bad guy square off in a epic Kung Fu battle, almost never happens.  What is more usual is the suspect squirms and pulls away and the whole affair resembles a greased pig wrestling match without the Crisco. Finally, there is the ever popular situation where the suspect goes all rigid, lays on his stomach, on his hands, and grips his wrists and is otherwise non-responsive.  I’ve seen this move take up to six cops to untangle and handcuff a suspect.  The point is, resistance does not take blood, teeth and hair flying about to be resistance.

What isn’t known is where was the gun during the wrestling match? The cell phone video doesn’t show. The introduction of the gun changes the dynamics of the confrontation.  Certainly the cops have reason to be concerned for their safety, but they also justifiably have a concern for the bystanders. A stray round fired in that situation could have gone anywhere. Without additional information it is useless to speculate.

So the only thing we know is that Alton Sterling was breaking the law and despite being given the opportunity to comply or leave he chose to escalate the situation.  He escalated it with the store manager, he escalated it with the cops and it eventually escalated beyond anybody’s control. Did he need to be shot? Don’t know.  Could this situation have been avoided, that was entirely up to Alton Sterling.  Sucks to be old Alton.