This editorial is brought to you by Mike Simonelli is a retired US Army officer with 30 years of military service who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; an active police officer in New York for 22 years; the Suffolk County PBA Sgt-at-Arms and holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from American Military University. His book in policing can be found at www.jdfinformation.com.
A remarkable phenomenon occurred this week. In the reporting of a White police officer shooting a Latino male armed with a knife, not a single mention was made of their respective races.
There were no headlines detailing the “White cop” nor highlighting the “Latino man” and their races were even left out of the body in the numerous stories on the incident.
It is as if the media totally forgot about race – which is completely opposite from their hypervigilance on the subject in reporting previous shootings involving the police and people of color holding a knife.
For instance, in reporting on the officer being cleared of any wrongdoing in the August 2020 justified shooting of Jacob Blake who was armed with a knife, the Reuters headline was, “White officer who shot and paralyzed Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin returned to duty.”
On the justified deadly shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. two months later in October 2020, the CBS News headline was, “Police fatally shoot Black man, sparking violent protests in Philadelphia.” NBC News at least included the knife with its headline, “’Drop the knife!’: Video appears to show fatal police shooting of Black man in Philadelphia.” The New York Post headline was similar, “Walter Wallace shooting: Philadelphia cops fatally shoot black man armed with a knife.”
The KTVU FOX 2 headline of the March 2021 justified deadly shooting of Tyrell Wilson was, “Video: Danville officer shoots Black man, 4 seconds after he tells him to drop knife.”
A month later in reporting on the justified deadly shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant in April 2021, the NPR headline was, “Columbus Police Shoot And Kill Black Teenage Girl.” BBC News too didn’t even bother including the fact that Bryant was armed with a knife and about to stab another black girl, their headline was, “Ohio shooting: Columbus police kill black teenage girl.” Even while reporting about the released video which shows the knife in Bryant’s hand, CNN’s headline stressed race over that critical fact with, “Ohio officials release more body cam video of fatal police shooting of Black teen and urge community to await the facts.”
The effects of such systemic biased reporting are captured in a Daily Wire headline about the September 2020 justified deadly shooting of Ricardo Munoz in Lancaster, PA: “Riots, Looting Hit Pennsylvania After Cop Shoots Minority Man. Suspect Charged At Cop With Knife, Video Shows.”
Contrast that reporting with these headlines about the two white Police Officers stabbed by Enrique Lopez: CBS New York, “Suffolk County Police: 2 officers stabbed on Long Island, suspect killed.” ; New York Post, “Two Long Island police officers stabbed, knife-wielding suspect shot dead.” ; FOX 5 New York, “Suffolk police: Man who stabbed 2 officers was 56-year-old ex-con.” ; NBC News 4 New York, “Long Island Cops Stabbed Responding to Fire Extinguisher Attack at Condo Complex.” Newsday, “Suffolk police officer on ventilator after ‘justified’ shooting, commissioner says.”
The difference between all the earlier stories where race made the headlines and the most recent one in Suffolk County where it is nowhere to be found – is that two cops were brutally stabbed before shooting the perpetrator dead.
Police officers should not have to be stabbed nearly to death with one being put on a ventilator fighting for his life in order to not be portrayed as a racist by the media when compelled to use justified deadly force.
Neither should violent criminals nor the mentally ill be led to believe by the media’s systemically biased reporting that they can threaten officers’ lives without facing swift and violent consequences.
There will be no pleading with them to drop the deadly weapon. The officers will not try to retreat. Police will do as they were trained and shoot the armed assailant with two to the body and one to the head.
As sad as that may be for the family of the criminal or crazy person, why is it any less tragic for the families of police to visit the hospital to pray their loved one will recover from life threatening stab wounds?
As their commissioner stated, “By the grace of God, these officers will be going home.” The next incident if the officers are not so lucky, their families will be visiting them at the morgue. Before it comes to that, the media needs to remember – the police are people too and they have the right to live, love, and laugh with their families as well.