The Heather Mac Donald piece (linked on the homepage today) is an indispensable antidote to the press coverage of the NYPD shooting incident in Queens last weekend. The press — specifically the cable television networks — did what they typically do in these cases, which is turn their megaphones over to Al Sharpton. Mac Donald lays out the neglected facts of the case:
The allegation that last weekend’s shooting was racially motivated is preposterous. A group of undercover officers working in a gun- and drug-plagued strip joint in Queens had good reason to believe that a party leaving the club was armed and about to shoot an adversary. When one of the undercovers identified himself as an officer, the car holding the party twice tried to run him down. The officer started firing while yelling to the car’s occupants: “Let me see your hands.” His colleagues, believing they were under attack, fired as well, eventually shooting off 50 rounds and killing the driver, Sean Bell. No gun was found in the car, but witnesses and video footage confirm that a fourth man in the party fled the scene once the altercation began. Bell and the other men with him all had been arrested for illegal possession of guns in the past; one of Bell’s companions that night, Joseph Guzman, had spent considerable time in prison, including for an armed robbery in which he shot at his victim.
There’s also this classic line:
This is not to say that the public and elected officials should automatically excuse every police shooting—which they are obviously far from doing. But to presume that every mistaken shooting represents a system-wide failure is inaccurate and unrealistic. The New York Times darkly commands: “[T]he Police Department must . . . confront the fact that a disaster that everyone swore to prevent seven years ago has repeated itself in Queens.” But because cops are humans and therefore fallible, it is impossible to prevent every wrongful shooting—without emasculating the police entirely. The New York Times has itself made a few mistakes over the last seven years; perhaps it, too, needs to confront its persistent fallibility.
Finally, Mac Donald identifies the people who will suffer as a result of this kind of exploitative coverage: “the hundreds of thousands of innocent, upstanding minority New Yorkers” whom the cops are trying to protect.