Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has provided details of the fatal shooting by a black police officer of Sylville Smith, a black Milwaukee man. The shooting sparked riots on Saturday and Sunday night.
According to Chief Flynn, who reviewed video from the body camera of the officer who shot Smith, the chain of events that led to the shooting occurred during a period of just 20 to 25 seconds. It began when Smith, who had been pulled over in a traffic stop, started running away. The officer (whose name is being withheld due to concerns for his safety) chased Smith on foot.
Very soon after the chase began, the officer encountered Smith in a fenced yard. Smith was armed. According to Chief Flynn, “[Smith] did turn toward the officer with the firearm in his hand.” The gun “was in [Smith’s] hand; he was raising up with it.” The officer had told Smith to drop the gun.
After Smith raised the gun, the officer fired several shots, as anyone with a decent regard for his own life would do in these circumstances. He hit Smith in the chest and arm. There is no indication that Smith fired a shot.
The video of this confrontation will likely be released before long. The decision is up to the state Department of Justice. Flynn said the quickest release he knew of was one week, in a Chicago case.
Given the high probability that the video will be released, it is difficult to believe that Flynn is mischaracterizing what it shows.
The problem is that neither the local rioters, the Black Lives Matter movement, nor the U.S. Department of Justice cares what actually happened in Milwaukee on Saturday. The locals are using the incident as an excuse to riot and attack police officers regardless of the merits.
Similarly, the Black Lives Matter movement can be expected to use the incident to incite anti-police sentiment, just as they continue to use the justified killing of Michael Brown who also attacked a police officers (Brown was unarmed). BLM protesters will continue to chant that they want “dead cops” and want them “now.”
The Justice Department was already investigating the Milwaukee police department. As in Baltimore, it will likely attack the department for disproportionately stopping and arresting blacks in neighborhoods like the crime-infested area where Smith was shot. The Obama-Lynch DOJ will do so, even though this weekend’s events (rioting, arson, attacks on the police, and multiple homicides) confirmed the prevalence of deadly lawlessness in the neighborhood where the black officer shot and killed Smith.
When race is at issue, public safety doesn’t matter to the Obama Justice Department. It just wants fewer blacks arrested and jailed.
Ironically, though, if Sylville Smith had been in jail (as he likely would have been for a shooting had he not successfully intimidated a witness), he would still be alive.