Believe it or not there can be times in your life when you’re actually hoping to be ‘wanted’ by law enforcement. This was one of them for me. In the aftermath of the cold-blooded Castle Doctrine shooting deaths of two young men, 18 and 22 who appeared to be preparing to break into an apartment, I scheduled a face-to-face meeting with the local gun-loving county sheriff to get the exact story of the double-killings from his lips. After attempting to cancel the meeting, he finally consented to it when I promised to leave the families of the victims at home.
If you’ve not read my previous accounts, two young black men were spotted by a 29-year-old man, also black, at a window of his apartment. They were almost certainly about to break into his residence. In response, he got out of his car, walked up to the men and shot them both in the head. As the shooter was approaching, both men fled to take cover behind small outdoor A/C units. Both were killed behind their respective units. The shooter was not charged because he “feared for his life”. The solicitor told the family and me that’s because the men split up to hide, wore gloves, one had a gun in his pocket, never drawn and the other a ski-mask rolled up on his head. Both had records. Young criminals, yes. Deserving of the vigilante death sentence? A reverberating ‘NO’!
This is the account of my sheriff’s meeting. It became abundantly clear from the time I set foot in the sheriff’s office that I was an unwelcome presence. While I couldn’t bring the family, the sheriff could bring in what I’m sure he thought was the intimidation factor of two of his investigators. I say intimidation because one was the spittin’ image in looks and size of a retired pro wrestler from the 80’s and 90’s, King Kong Bundy, some 400 pounds plus of monster flesh. Said investigator also applied a ‘vice-grip’ to his handshake.
The other guy just sat there giving me the fisheye.
Apparently King Kong was assigned the job of (not) answering my questions. Unlike his casual, sympathetic, polo-shirted y’all appearance before the NAACP in that church setting I described in an earlier contribution, the sheriff was all business this time in shirt and tie. His responses were replete with officious language. The sheriff and his investigators had no intention of giving me what I wanted.
Suddenly, they knew nothing. “How far away was the shooter?” “Duh, I don’t know, maybe 20 feet.” The County Solicitor had pegged the number as close as 4-5 feet, information gleaned from the investigators. The sister of one of the victims had been told by a resident of the apartment complex occupied by the shooter and his girlfriend that she had seen the actual shooting of one of the men who was crying for help as the shooter repeatedly uttered racial slurs. Let me be clear, this is pure hearsay, but it certainly deserves a follow-up.
She told the sister that she had approached one of the deputies at the scene and he ordered her to get back to her apartment. The inspector insisted that they had heard about the claim and said that the mother of one of the victims was lying if she said nobody would talk to the sister. They said they want to talk with anybody and everybody at the scene of a crime. Frankly, I don’t quite know what to believe. I know the mother to be a highly honorable woman who would not just make things up. King Kong insisted he had tried to get in touch with the ‘witness’ but that she wouldn’t return his calls. I asked him why he didn’t just go to her apartment and he had no answer. The mother lying to me became a recurring theme in defense of the department’s behavior in this case. Nothing that I was told by her that might bring charges on the shooter was true according to the sheriff. I asked if the mother was lying so she could collect money in a civil case. “Yep!”
The sheriff seemed to obsess on a draconian law that allows felons to ‘illegally’ possess a firearm if they think their lives are in danger. That law is so fraught with contradictions as to be ludicrous. Think about it. The guy is a felon. He’s packing. How would he even remotely know whether he would have to protect himself against deadly force? The sheriff makes a huge deal out of one of the victims having a gun in his pocket but remains indifferent to the fact that a convicted felon had a Taurus .38 long barrel. The shooter wasn’t ‘defending’ himself. He got out of a car, armed and approached the unarmed alleged perps. He could have easily driven off and called law enforcement. Instead, spoiling for a fight, he in effect, executes the two young men
Sympathy for the parents of the 2 young dead men is hard to come by. They were, after all, the BAD guys. Killing 2 human beings attempting to maybe filch a Kindle or whatever else is hot right now apparently makes you a hero in South Carolina. In my final segment, I’m going to talk about the young men who were killed. I’m also going to address the laws that now allow most states to become killing fields and why that’s just fine with ALEC and the NRA…both entities valuing the almighty dollar over human life. And, as far as the laws are concerned it’s actually worse than you think.
This case is not in the same category as the Martin/Zimmerman killing. That’s now crossed over into ‘celebrity’ territory. A nice-looking young kid minding his own business; a delusional ‘heavy’ as trigger-happy doofus. A deep-drawl defense attorney…all the elements are there for great TV. Not so with the South Carolina case.
Here are 2 young guys with criminal records whom local law enforcement has demonized. No sympathy there. The NAACP is holding a few ‘stop the violence’ politically correct, don’t stir up the power structure, meetings. The first giving the parents of 3 bad guys shot down in the last couple of months a chance to vent their emotions. But no emotion of support from the NAACP. Just a Volunteers Against Violence (VAV) handout.
The president of the local NAACP wrote a Letter to the Editor in yesterday’s paper announcing another ‘call to action’ meeting. She thanked those who attended the previous forum with nary a mention or peep of protest about the double-slaying.
An email to the Southern Poverty Law Center went unanswered; even unacknowledged. Disinterest and a decided lack of manners from a gutsy organization I once admired greatly.
I’ll wind this thing up next Monday, May 14th. One of the families was interviewed for the local newspaper’s Mother’s Day feature.. Let’s hope this mom gets some positive feedback from somewhere.