For months the topic of police shootings and violence (specifically involving African-American males) has dominated the headlines. For most of that time I’ve tried to bring rational discourse to this debate, though I quickly realized that most people didn’t want an actual “debate” – they just wanted someone to tell them what they wanted to hear.
But a situation here in Texas, just a few miles from where I live, might be the best story to cover all aspects of this debate that I’ve seen anywhere.
On Saturday in Duncanville, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, there was a 911 call made by an African-American woman emphatically telling the operator that there were three young boys, one in a grey hoodie, walking around “with a big old ass gun showing it!”
Then we see the dashcam video showing Duncanville Officer Ben Luna approaching the three suspects. As he pulled up behind them, they look at the car – and one reaches toward his waistband.
As Luna exits his vehicle he orders the three young men to put their hands up and get on the ground – except they don’t listen. While one individual does put his hands up, he continues to walk toward the officer instead of simply complying with commands to get on the ground while the other two simply sat on the curb.
“They’re fixing to either pull the gun out or they don’t really care what – what I’m saying,” Luna said of his thoughts as all of this transpired.
So, what we have here is an officer approaching three suspects while responding to a fairly alarmed woman calling 911 reporting three young males are flashing a big gun, with two barely complying (one even slightly turned then reached into his pockets) and the third (granted with his hands up) walking toward the officer as he was being instructed sternly to get on the ground.
And as Luna said, at the time he wasn’t sure if the gentleman walking toward him was “just trying to distract me looking at him, and these two could pull out a weapon. I’m not for sure.”
But ultimately, what the three men had was a BB gun that was almost an exact replica of a Beretta 92F.
Tell me if you think you could tell the difference between these two Berettas from a distance:
By the way, the top one is the BB gun. Before moving on, I think it’s time we have a real debate in this country about these BB guns being made to look like damn near exact replicas of real guns. That’s just idiotic.
This could have turned out so much worse. And had Officer Luna shot one of these young men, there’s no doubt that the headlines would have been, “Another Unarmed Black Teenager Wearing a Hoodie Killed by Police in Texas.”
Thankfully that didn’t happen.
But this whole situation covers so many facets of this entire debate that I really do hope this article gets seen by a lot of people.
First, it gives commentary from the officer into what he was thinking driving up on these three suspects. Then it shows these three males, who did have a very realistic replica BB gun, not listening to the officer’s commands and just how little time the officer has to react in these situations if the one individual who walked toward him had kept coming forward.
And all of it happened in a matter of just a few seconds.
But it also shows how an officer can approach this kind of situation and not “shoot first, and ask questions later.” That’s an attitude that, had the officer who shot Tamir Rice used, would have saved the 12-year-old’s life.
Then again, in the situation here in Texas, Luna could have just as easily been shot himself had these three males actually had a real gun. It’s always easy in hindsight to assess what should or shouldn’t have happened, but in real time it’s not nearly that simple, as this video shows.
People just need listen and do what cops tell them to do. If the officer is in the wrong, then let them be in the wrong and sort it out later. Police officers don’t know intent going into these kinds of situations. While in hindsight we know that these three young men weren’t doing anything wrong (though it can be seen as questionable why they would stroll around flashing a realistic looking BB gun), Officer Luna had no way of knowing that as he approached them. And it’s a very real possibility that the individual who decided to walk toward the officer was no more than two or three steps away from being shot. Even the two who just decided to sit down and start reaching around in their pockets could have easily been victims as well.
When people are combative with police officers, don’t comply with their orders or flat-out resist arrest – nothing good can come from that. Unlawful arrests by bad police officers can be dealt with later down the road; being killed because you resisted arrest or ignored an officer’s orders to get on the ground cannot.
But I would like to commend Officer Luna for setting an example as an officer who proved that these kinds of situations can be defused – though we need to remember that not every single situation is exactly the same. Thankfully this entire ordeal turned out positive for everyone involved.
Watch the segment below via Fox 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth: