By Arlene Jones
The just-under-2-minute video I saw, filmed by a bystander, probably from a balcony, did not generate any laughs. In the video, a white SUV with very dark tinted windows is zooming down the street being pursued by two police cars. The fact that the white SUV ends up coming back to the very spot where the film begins, is an indication that the person driving it was not familiar with the neighborhood.
It's around 8:45 in the morning, with pedestrians and especially children out and about, and the driver is speeding, oblivious to the dangers he's presenting to others, himself and the police in pursuit.
Now police chases don't end well and this was no exception. According to the police and eyewitnesses, the driver of the car tried to run over a police officer. The response from the police is predictable as well. The officer pulls his gun and shoots! The criminal — and that's what a person who steals a car is — is shot in the head.
In most instances, people would be glad that a criminal got his just due. But in this case, it turns out that the criminal is 15-year-old De Avion Ashley. And judging from the news media reporting it, Ashley's family, and everybody else, is trying to make the kid the innocent victim.
Let's start with the media. Instead of portraying Ashley as the budding criminal he is, the media hyped on the fact that he is 15 years old and was shot in the head by the police. Ashley's family, while acknowledging he was wrong for having stolen the vehicle, proceeded to defend him as well.
"Hammond police shot an unarmed kid who was fleeing the scene in an obvious attempt to get away and not harm any pursuing Hammond officers," said his cousin and family spokesperson, Demetrius Nash.
Can you believe that? An attempt to flee and not harm the officers. Give me a freaking break! As would be expected, some black folks have also jumped on the same bandwagon as the family. They are more interested in lamenting that the police shot the kid than critiquing the kid for being a car thief. Nor was there any mention of why he wasn't in school at that time of the day. Those are the kind of details that people overlook when trying to justify bad behavior.
Grand Theft Auto is a legitimate criminal charge. Unlike the video game, Ashley has suffered real and not make-believe consequences for his actions. Fortunately, the bullet that entered his head did not kill him. But the charges he faces and the time he may spend in jail are a different story.
There was a time when black parents would have the so-called "Talk" with their children. That talk would include their behaviors regarding the police. It would also be tempered with the emphasis on non-criminal behavior by the young person. If I had to place a bet on whether this family spoke with Ashley about such situations and behaviors, my money would be leaning toward the fact that they hadn't. The family spokesperson trying to turn Ashley into Indiana's version of Laquan McDonald — an innocent victim — says a lot about the mindset the kid was raised in. He may not have deserved being shot in the head, but his actions and behavior sure led to that outcome.
The police officers involved in the shootings are not white cops. Two are black and one is Hispanic. That could possibly be a reason why the kid had only one bullet in his head and not 16! They also wore body cameras that will better give us a visual account of what happened. Although that video footage has yet to be released, it will be interesting to see what it contains.
In the meantime, I hope parents begin to talk with their children about today's reality. Any kind of theft is not a joke. And behaviors that bring them into contact with the police can have devastating consequences. Our young people are the captains of their own ships, and the directions they choose to take are matters of life and death!
Answer Book 2018
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