Police mistake hairbrush for gun in Brooklyn.

Police Fatally Shoot Teen in Brooklyn

NEW YORK (AP) — A teenager in a dispute with his mother was shot and killed by police officers when he charged at them with what they thought was a gun but later turned out to be a hairbrush, authorities said.

As a police officer my heart stops when I read about an incident in which an unarmed individual is killed by armed police officers. Recall in the Bronx African immigrant Amodu Diallo who was shot numerous times by officers who shot him because they believed the cell phone he was carrying was a gun. A jury found the police officers not guilty as they sincerely but erroneously believed he had a weapon.

The facts are still coming in with respect to this domestic dispute in which a young man life is cut short. Neil Young said it best ” There’s one more kid that will never go to shool never get to fall in love and never get to be cool.”

In my tenure with the NYPD for over 20 years I have never had to discharge my gun. This year I chased armed individuals who fired a gun in my direction. In a split second I couldn’t clearly identify the shooter, I knew instinctively it was one of the two guys in a hallway facing me. We subsequently apprehended the men, one a drug dealer and the other wanted for attempted murder with a previous record for violent assaults.

The reason I add my personal experience is that police officers never know who they are dealing with, but they ( bad guys and gals) know who we are and the consequences of arrest and subsequent detention from an encounter with the police.

However, when police make mistakes they are often life altering, ceasing liberty the pursuit of life and happiness. And here the mistake is fatal and makes me cringe that we have failed in our ultimate obligation ” to protect” and “serve”.

The press, pundits, lawyers, politicians civic and religious leaders often taint these incidents confusing the incident facts with their own agenda. In the Diallo shooting the defense attorneys were able to change the venue for the proceedings from the Bronx to Albany New York. The First Department Appellate Court of New York permitted the change stating in essence ” a circus like environment surrounded the event” and ” even police officers are entitled to a fair and impartial trial. A community has the absolute right to judge misconduct of its police force. However, guilt, innocence, misconduct, mistake and or negligence should be judged fairly not in the circus maximus climate that so taints our jurisprudence today.

Police work continues to be a metaphysical task. God rest the soul of this young man and I pray the family will have strength to carry on.

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