**Gun nuts’ special privileges: How police treated a dangerous “open carry” zealot **
What do you suppose would happen to an agitated, belligerent African-American man wandering around on the street in his pajamas yelling at people, waving a gun around and telling police to shoot him? Judging from what we saw happen in St Louis to Kajieme Powell, he would likely be shot dead by police almost immediately. But that’s not what happened to this gentleman in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In fact, what happened in Kalamazoo was a picture-perfect example of smart, strategic policing to deescalate a possibly lethal situation.Of course, the perpetrator was a white, 63-year-old “open-carry” advocate who was drunkenly asserting his right to bear arms in the middle of the day — the very definition of a “good guy with a gun.”
Here’s what happened. It was a Sunday afternoon about 4 p.m. when Kalamazoo 9-1-1 got several calls from citizens concerned about an intoxicated man with a gun walking around a coin laundry and “stumbling around a little bit and kind of bumping into some stuff” on the street. The police arrived shortly and confronted the man by saying, “Hey, partner, how you doing? Can you set that down real quick and talk to me?” (The officer didn’t have his gun drawn.) The armed man refused to set it down. The officer told him that he was jaywalking and was being detained. At that point the officer radioed that the armed man would not drop the weapon. He tells the man again that he just wants to talk to him and says, “You’re walking around here scaring people, man.”
A second police car arrives at the scene. The man refuses to identify himself and demands to know if he’s free to go and the officer says no, that he is resisting and obstructing, a misdemeanor, for jaywalking and failing to identify himself. The man says, “Why don’t you ****ing shoot me?” The officer gently replies, “I don’t want to shoot you; I’m not here to do that.”
That’s very different from what happened to Kaijame Powell, the young black man from St. Louis with mental problems. A shop owner called the police to report a shoplifter and said he had a knife. The man walks around on the sidewalk in an agitated fashion. A few minutes later a police car races up the street and stops at the curb in front of him, two officers jump out with guns drawn shouting, “Put down the knife!” He says, “Shoot me, shoot me,” and he walks toward the car and they fire their guns, killing him on the spot. The whole altercation took 30 seconds. The St. Louis police chief said that the video of the incident was “exculpatory” and explained that the officers could not have done anything different (like use the tasers they carried on their belt) because nothing else was “guaranteed” to stop the victim.
Just a few days before that another African-American man named John Crawford was shopping in an Ohio Wal-Mart while talking to his wife on the phone. He’d picked up a BB gun the store sells and apparently some patrons were afraid and called police. The wife heard the cops order him to put down the weapon and he immediately shouted, “It’s not real.” Then they opened fire and killed him. (Another shopper collapsed and died as she tried to get away from the gunfire.) Crawford had two young children and a third on the way.
" . . . with liberty and justice for all."