The Threatening Banana

First, the story:

In Mesa County, Colorado, Nathen Rolf Channing, 27, was arrested after he pointed a banana at police officers as if it were a gun.  He explained that he doing a “trial run” for YouTube video as a “funny joke.”

The two officers initially thought the banana was a gun after Nathan “drew the object in the same manner someone would draw a standard handgun from a concealed holster.”  According to the arrest affidavit, Mesa County deputies Joshua Bunch and Donald Love  feared for their lives after Nathan pointed “what appeared to be a yellow tube with a black center” at them. Both stated that they thought the fruit was a gun, and Love was preparing to fire when Nathan shouted “It’s a banana!”

A conviction could get Nathan three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Now some observations:

1. Nathan is an idiot, and should be convicted. Just because an assault is silly doesn’t mean its not an assault. Police officers shouldn’t have to put up with gag threats on their lives.

2. Over at Reason, where they really, really don’t like the police (libertarians, you know) Ed Krayewski mocks the officers and actually uses this incident to impugn Darren Wilson. “Cops almost universally make this claim [that they are in fear for their lives] after a shooting, and it almost always helps in avoiding any criminal charges,” he says, suggesting that it is all a lie. You know why they always make that claim, Ed? Because police have good reason to be in fear for their lives. Their job is dangerous; over a hundred officers are killed in the line of duty every year. A second’s hesitation or a moment’s misplaced trust can mean death. People like you who ridicule that reasonable and necessary wariness without having ever been in similar circumstances just contribute to public ignorance and the next Ferguson.

3. It is just a matter of time before someone dies trying to make a viral YouTube video. If it has to happen to someone, Nathen Rolf Channing would be a good candidate.

4. The question lingers: if Nathan was a black idiot and not a white one, would he be dead today?

5. Thank God we don’t have to find out. Imagine all of those protesters carrying bananas, and the awful chant, “It’s a banana! It’s a banana!”

6. That being said, if someone draws an object out of a holster, points it at police and gets shot dead, white or black, the shooting police officer should not face charges, even if it turns out to be fruit. Try that hypothetical on the Brown protesters. I guarantee they won’t get it.

7. Nathan is from Fruitvale, Colorado. Really.

8. From the comments on this incident at Instapundit: “Did they read him his Carmen Miranda rights?”


Pointer: Instapundit

Sources: ABC, Reason


9 thoughts on “The Threatening Banana

  1. They say “I was in fear for my life” because this is precisely why cops draw their sidearm and fire. I feel really bad for the poor bastards who end up being tried by armchair quarterbacks; people who know absolutely NOTHING about the mechanics of a shooting. The one that really kills me is “why did you shoot him six times?” I’d love to hear him say “I ran out of ammo” 🙂 Seriously, though, once you’ve made up your mind that you stand a good chance of dying if you don’t fire, you fire groups of two rounds, center mass, until the threat is no longer moving towards you. Under duress, you are much more likely to miss vital areas, and even when you do, the threat often still has enough life and forward momentum left to hurt or kill you, especially if the poor slob is given a 9mm to carry and is not an expert shot with it. I’ve personally seen more than a couple running corpses trying to reach the person who just took their life after being hit with a burst or two of 5.56 or 9mm. Scary.

  2. They didn’t shoot. They did the right thing.

    Their job is dangerous; over a hundred officers are killed in the line of duty every year.

    Including in car accidents?

    And over 400 unarmed civilians are killed by police.

    Moral of the story – not this particular one – is that unarmed civilians face a greater threat from police than police do from armed civilians. When you see one, absent yourself if possible. If not, slowly – but not too slowly – drop to your knees then lie face down, preferably covering any child with you with your body.

    • A) Well, yes, that would figure, since police are armed, and can protect themselves, as Officer Wilson did, and the people that officers tend to interact with are irresponsible and defiant of legitimate authority. And again, I must say that “unarmed” being used in this way is misleading to the point of deceitful. 1) Unarmed does not mean “unthreatening.” and 2) The banana wielder proves it. How many of those unarmed refused to show that they were unarmed?

      B) They did the right thing, and that’s moral luck. If they had shot, the fool with the banana would have been to blame.
      C) Your last comment is just flat out unfair, irrational, and counter-factual. It is certainly not supported by the Brown-Wilson incident in any way. There is a wide gap between “slowly – but not too slowly – drop to your knees then lie face down, preferably covering any child with you with your body” and “grapple with the arresting officer, try to get his gun, run away, then turn and charge him.” Or even “pull a banana out of a holster as a funny joke”

  3. 1. Whether he should be convicted depends on whether he intended the cops to think he was drawing a gun. If he thought it was an obvious banana joke (there’s a long comic history of silly banana jokes), then he was unfortunately wrong, but not intending any harm.

    2. General fear doesn’t count. Having a dangerous job doesn’t count. Cops need to be in reasonable fear in the specific instance in which they open fire. In this case, if he really did draw it like a gun, that does seem like a reasonable fear. But it doesn’t necessarily mean Channing intended to cause the fear.

    • I think you would have a hard time arguing that line. If you intend to fool someone into being scared of a banana…and if not, where’s the joke?–then it’s assault. As far as a justifiable shooting goes, intent has nothing to do with it: the issue is the officer’s reasonable fear of bodily harm.

      • The joke is that you’re using a banana in place of the real object — gun, telephone, pen, whatever — it’s just silly fun. Obviously, you’re doing it wrong if your audience doesn’t realize it’s a gag.

        • It’s not a funny video if it isn’t initially alarming: the prank videos depend on on an initial fright….likely to be just long enough to get one shot, if the butt of the joke is armed.

  4. This area of Colorado is a boom and bust industry. There are a lot of poor and drug using people out here who own guns. It is a very big hunting area. The same week we had a 15 year old shoot his friend in the chest on “accident” just behind my apartment here. Cops out here have to assume people here have weapons on them all of the time.

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