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“Believe your own eyes” — that was the prosecutor’s final admonition to the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial. And indeed, the evidence of their own eyes was likely the reason the jury members didn’t accept the defense’s case that there was “reasonable doubt” about Chauvin’s guilt. Instead, they convicted him on all charges.
The same admonition should be governing the public response to the horrible event in Columbus, Ohio, that transpired just as the Chauvin verdict was being announced. But it isn’t.
No less than the press secretary of the president of the United States went before the public Wednesday and all but explicitly suggested what had happened in Ohio was an illegitimate, racist police killing.
Believe your own eyes, Jen Psaki. Watch the body-cam footage that shows 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant charging first one fellow teenager, then a second. The second girl was slammed against a car, at which point Bryant began to swing her right arm — with a knife in her hand.
The police officer whose camera recorded the event had told her to “get down,” and she hadn’t done so. He had only a split second to react as she aimed the knife and readied to swing. He fired.
Believe your own eyes. She had a knife. Had she not been stopped, that knife would have gone into the body of the girl on the car. The police officer was witness to a violent act in real time and interceded the only way he could.
At the five-second mark in the video, the officer has gotten out of his car and is asking someone on the street, “What’s going on?” Two seconds — two seconds — later, the first girl being chased by Bryant falls to the ground.
“Hey! Hey!” the cop says at the nine-second mark, as he spots Bryant turning toward the second girl. At 10-second mark, he says with great urgency, “Get down! Get down! Get down!”
It’s now the 12-second mark. The cop has removed his gun from his holster. At 13 seconds, Bryant’s arm is drawn. At 14, we see Bryant fall to the ground.
What this means is that the officer found himself in the middle of a violent confrontation and had to act . . . within nine seconds.
Count off nine seconds. Out of a car. Asks for information. Suddenly a girl falls in front of him, chased by Bryant and her knife. He tells her to get down before removing his weapon and has it in his hand in time to stop her from stabbing the girl against the car.
I’ve watched the body-cam footage 25 times. I can’t imagine what else the police officer could possibly have done given the urgency of the moment — except allow Bryant to stab the other girl.
My own eyes suggested to me, and to the world, that Chauvin was guilty of something — though it was certainly beyond my knowledge then or now, as I wasn’t on the jury, to know precisely what. Likewise, my eyes say this was a horrible, tragic, terrible event in which a police officer may have saved a life in imminent peril.
And yet this is what Psaki, the spokeswoman for the world’s greatest power and leading democracy, said: “She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family in the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss. We know that police violence disproportionately impacts black and Latino people in communities and that black women and girls, like black men and boys, experience higher rates of police violence.”
I don’t think my eyes have been blinded by the cop’s whiteness. The girl he saved was black, just like Ma’Khia Bryant. She was a teenager, it seems, just like Ma’Khia Bryant. She has a family, just like Ma’Khia Bryant. And she wasn’t swinging a knife at Ma’Khia Bryant. She was defenseless — until the law-enforcement officer defended her.
Who speaks for her and the countless Americans whose lives are saved every day by the intervention of law enforcement? Who will speak out for those who have saved them?
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