Rueful Observations On The Grand Rapids, Mich. Police Shooting

…and reactions to it so far.

So occupied was the  news media with crowding out all other news events with the Ukraine war that you may have missed the latest justification for a Black Lives Matter protest, and the latest reason we may have to use robots to police the streets soon, since no sane human being would want the job.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Patrick Lyoya, black and 26, was pulled over on April 4 after a police officer saw that the license plate on his car did not match the automobile he was driving. Lyoya tried to run away after the officer questioned him and asked for his driver’s license.

The officer quickly caught up to him, and there was a struggle. The Grand Rapids police department said that the officer’s body camera was deactivated during physical contact. Video from a bystander’s cellphone shows the officer trying to control Loyoya and kneeing him in the back while shouting at him to let go of the stun gun. (The officer appeared to have tried to use the stungun on Loyoya, without success. Finally the officer reaches for his gun and shoots once, killing the motorist. As day follows night, Black Lives Matter and other activists organized a protest, and the usual parties issued the predictable statements.

Rueful Observations:

1. Let’s start with a non-rueful one: so far, the protests really have been peaceful. Fine. If the protests are lawful, peaceful, and don’t disrupt the lives of law-abiding citizens (that is, people unlike the late Mr. Lyoya) and protesting allows folks to blow off steam and they have nothing more productive to do, that’s their right.  Gratuitous and reflex protests are still unethical, however.

2. City Manager Mark Washington saw the video and said, “I immediately asked, ‘What caused this to happen?’” Take me now, Lord! “What” is obvious, isn’t it? It happened because a citizen opposed a lawful action by a police officer and resisted arrest. This had to be identified as the causal event, and the lesson “Don’t resist arrest” needs to be taught to all, especially, it seems, members of the black community, though “obey the law” would also help.

3. But no, instead, the “what” is being, predictably, shifted to traffic stops themselves. Just yesterday, preparing this post, I wondered about this, since it is the current “it isn’t what it is” delusion driving schools to abandon SAT tests and cities to stop enforcing more an more laws. Bingo! There it was, the first non-Ukraine news on today’s New York Times Front page: “Cities Try to Turn the Tide on Police Traffic Stops: Chiefs, prosecutors and lawmakers are rethinking the value, and the harm, of minor traffic stops like the one that ended in a man’s death in Grand Rapids.”

Quote: “Los Angeles is overhauling its traffic policing, aiming to stop pulling over cars — frequently with Black drivers — for trivial infractions like broken taillights or expired tags as a pretext to search for drugs or guns.”

Ugh. Broken tail lights cause accidents and get people killed. If officers don’t stop cars with expired tags, more people will stop paying their yearly registration. Next up: speeding, running red lights, and driving a stolen car. Bad slippery slope argument, you say? I hope so. Then again, I once would have laughed at the idea of not prosecuting shop-lifters.

4. If you want a test on where a particular publication is trying to steer public opinion, go no further than this: how prominent is the fact that Lyoya was shot in the head during his wrestling match with the cop? See, the activists and Lyolya’s family want to frame the death as an “execution.” Let’s see..ah! Here’s the Washington Post’s very first paragraph describing the event after an introductory sentence comparing the U.S. to the Belgian Congo:

That sense of security was shattered last week, when their oldest son Patrick Lyoya was killed by a police officer in the western Michigan city of Grand Rapids. What began as a traffic stop ended with Lyoya shot in the head, the latest police shooting of an unarmed Black man to shake the nation. He was 26 years old, a father of two.

Sure sounds like an execution to me! Defund the police!

5. I know there is no way to stop the news media from seeking out an publishing the routine emotional outbursts of family members, which always serve to distort the issues, confuse the public, and inflame the passions of those so inclined.  If Jack the Ripper was killed in a police shooting after he drew his knife on a cop, Jack’s mother would tell reporters that he was “her beloved son” and that he was “quiet, loving and supportive of his parents and siblings”—just like Loyoya’s mother did. Similarly, race-hustler Ben Crump, the lawyer who rushes to the locale of every police shooting to say the exact same thing, is also dutifully quotes without any mention that his comments are a shtick, and part of the fertilization process to guarantee his 33% share of a city settlement. This time, Crump said that the shooting represented “another senseless killing of a Black person in America by the very people who were supposed to protect them.”

6. Uber-Woke Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer immediately pandered to the family, Crump, activists and Black Lives Matter, saying in part,

“We must come together and build a future where Black Michiganders are afforded equal rights, dignity, and safety in our communities. I will never stop fighting to make Michigan a more equitable and just state.”

…which implies that Lyoya’s rights were violated because he was black. Republican candidate Tudor Dixon said she stands “unequivocally with the police officer.” Well, that’s biased too, and she’s also playing to the base. Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom called the April 4 shooting a “tragedy,” which is certainly correct, and got the ethics balance right, saying,

It is early in the investigation, so understandably, there are questions. I am committed to providing information as transparently and quickly as the investigation allows. When an officer is faced with an imminent threat to his life or another person, deadly force may be the only option. My prayers are with the Lyoya family, the Grand Rapids community, and the men and women who serve.

7. Was shooting Lyoya the “only option,” assuming had hold of the cop’s taser? My guess is that the officer, whose name has not been released, is, as we way, screwed, if the “only option” test is the one applied. This is at least the third police shooting I can think of involving the perp getting control of the taser or trying to. There needs to be consensus—quick— on whether the threat of being tased is considered sufficient for the officer to use deadly force.

8. I don’t think calling Loyoya “unarmed,” as all of the news reports have—shades of Mike Brown—is fair or accurate reporting if he had his hand on the officer’s taser.

9. In addition, facts don’t matter to Black Lives Matter or the activists in these scenarios. If the black man or woman dies, racism is the presumption, and cop brutality is the verdict. Cops have no chance. Logically, police should run if a black man resists arrest like Loyoya did.

9. Back to the media for a second: a paper co-authored by Yale political scientist Joshua Kalla presented the results of a study that purported to show   the influence of partisan media outlets over public  attitudes. The researchers paid loyal Fox viewers to watch CNN hours on end, and CNN viewers to watch Fox News. The results were widely reported as showing that Fox News is eeevil, but one result stood out related to police shootings:

Participants [after they watched CNN’s reporting] were less likely to agree that “It is an overreaction to go out and protest in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin…
And THAT’s why nobody should trust CNN. Perfect. Jacob Blake was shot resisting arrest (of course) as he tried to take the children of the woman he was accused of raping and that he was in the process of violating a restraining order stay away from. He had a knife, and was trying to get into a car containing the children—and CNN convinced these squish-brained Fox0warchers that protesting Blake’s shooting was reasonable.
10. Thought experiment: would black lives be saved and police-involved shooting deaths be reduced if laws allowed police to shoot fleeing subjects and those of any race, color or creed who resisted arrest? That was the old-fashioned way. There would be a lot less resistance, taser-grabbing and fighting with cops if everyone knew that not responding to lawful police action with, “Certainly, Officer, whatever you say” was putting their lives at risk.



12 thoughts on “Rueful Observations On The Grand Rapids, Mich. Police Shooting

  1. This week in DC in less than 1 hour 4 young black men got out of a stolen car, casually walked up to two different couples pushed a gun into their chests and robbed them. In both cases they took the couples young small dogs. In one case they shot one of the victims.

    I have no idea whether these dog appears were going to sell the dogs or use them as fresh meat to train fighting dogs. Either way taking a pet is little different than a human kidnapping in terms of the psychological trauma inflicted on the victims.

    On an earlier post I wrote that I don’t like to lump people into categories and I stated that before progressives can demand anything from me they must begin to demand certain sacrifices from those to which they claim to be an advocate. I should have added don’t resist arrest to one of the lessons to be learned.
    Sure, this is a tragedy but a tragedy brought about not by the police but by parents and civic leaders who have failed to instill in the young sets of life instructions that will aid them in growing into prosperous value adding adults.
    The real tragedy here is that power seeking leaders are willing to allow these young men to be collateral damage to be used in the leader’s quest for power and money.

    • If black people can’t obey the law, stop enforcing the law against them. There! Why didn’t anyone think of that sooner?

  2. Grand Rapids is my hometown. Until recently I was seriously thinking of moving back there.

    Way to go, Grand Rapids. You sure have arrived.

    • That comment was flippant and unproductive.

      Lately I’ve noticed Grand Rapids developing the pretension and self righteousness of a larger city, with few of the bona fides to back that up. The investigation of the (tragic) Lyoya killing seems to be going as it should, and I’m reserving judgment as more details come out. But the public response – woohoo, we get our own trendy BLM incident to be outraged about now, just as BLM is getting exposed as a scam! – reflects a vibe I don’t care to participate in.

      • For my money, there’s a pretty strong streak of superiority running through much of MIchigan. See, eg., the University of Michigan, the self-described Harvard of the Midwest. Plus, some Calvinist Dutch Bible thumpers.

        • For whatever it’s worth, those Bible thumpers sure got stuff done, though. True Calvinist work ethic. And all things considered Michigan State is a pretty down to earth institution. I knew both Peter Meijer and Justin Amash and they always struck me as good eggs.

          The Amway industry is truly a mixed blessing. UofM is the pits. And incidentally before this we hadn’t heard a peep out of Gov Whitmer since she wasn’t tapped to be Biden’s VP.

  3. “There needs to be consensus—quick— on whether the threat of being tased is considered sufficient for the officer to use deadly force.”

    I think there is, at least among law enforcement – I think it was in Atlanta, the man that fell asleep in the drive through, got ahold of the taser and in the ensuing scuffles, they shot him. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case for most departments.

    You can watch YouTube videos where the police are attacked, the suspects reach for or get the officers gun and try to kill them.

    It seems the thinking goes, if you’re willing to fight the cop and reach for the taser, you’re as likely use it to gain further control of the officer and kill him or her or at a minimum cause horrible bodily harm.

    You can see as many or more videos of tasers being completely useless (as was the case here) as you can find them subduing a suspect. It’s an iffy proposition at best, but, when they work, they work really well.

    If you watch that video, the cop was COMPLETELY gassed, and the suspect still had strength. The cop wasn’t going to be able to defend himself effectively anymore.

    Further, there are as many videos of people being shot multiple, multiple times and continuing to attack officers as there are those who are hit once or twice, stumble, and fall.

    You’re on the losing end of a fight and have nothing left, what do you do?

    Things are way upside down in this world of ours….

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