Stephen L. Carter, a Bloomberg View columnist, is a professor of law at Yale University. He is the author of 12 books, including "The Emperor of Ocean Park" and "Back Channel."
"It has become leaden and disheartening, the series of tragic slayings of young black men by police. One can accept the statistics suggesting that the problem is not as bad as we think. One can buy entirely existence of a “Ferguson effect” -- the idea that increased scrutiny of police actions has led to increases of violent crime in cities. One can concede that the far greater problem facing Black America is the way our young men are killing each other.
And yet, somehow, the incidents of police shootings weigh heavily upon the soul.
The latest well-publicized shooting occurred in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, and came just days after white officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shot and killed a black man they were trying to arrest. In the latter incident, two separate bystander videos confirm that he was already pinned to the ground. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating.
“Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him,” says the girlfriend of Philando Castile, the black man killed in Minnesota. Her voice is calm and respectful as she speaks to the officer who just shot her boyfriend through the window of the car. “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
We know what she said to the shooter because she made a video recording of much of the incident, which has been viewed a million times on the internet. According to her account, Castile told the officers that he had a gun in the car, and that he was licensed to carry it. He then explained that he was reaching for his wallet."
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