Chauvin, Ma’Khia Bryant & a hard reality

This was a hard week…

Many eyes first followed the long-awaited verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. First and foremost, how hard it was to watch a man die; it doesn’t matter who the man is. God be with the Floyd family.

Let us also say, it was hard to watch the many who suggested due process was not necessary in this situation. Incorporated in the Constitution, due process is a legal requirement afforded to all people. Even when it’s hard.

After the verdict was announced, many eyes moved quickly to Columbus, Ohio, where only 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, was shot to death by a police officer. Initial reports are that Ma’Khia was fighting with two other foster children/teens over a messy house and unmade bed. My heart hurts once more. How absolutely tragic.

LeBron James quickly tweeted out a photo of the cop, with the caption, “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.”

The ACLU called it “murder.”

No question this is tragic. Gut-wrenching. There is also more to the story.

Police were responding to a 911 call in which the caller, amid a commotion in the background, alerted them that someone is “trying to fight us, trying to stab us, trying to put their hands on our grandma. Get here now.”

Soon released video shows Bryant with a raised knife in her hand, yelling “I’m gonna stab the f**k out of you, b***h,” and then lunging at an unarmed other girl dressed in pink. Bryant was shot as she lunged at the other girl. How absolutely heartbreaking and awful.

Still more public reaction…

A CNN segment referred to the girl Bryant was attempting to stab as “the child in pink who was so close to Ma’Khia when she was shot.”

NBC Nightly News played the 911 tape. They omitted the part that said someone was “trying to stab us.”

LeBron James deleted his tweet.

Friends, this is hard. We want to wrestle with reality rightly.

While every death is tragic, even when our hearts are hurting — as angry and passionate as we may be — we need to take time to discern the rest of the story — as opposed to instantly reacting to the narrative we think we know. Not every incident fits into our narrative. Reality is more complex.

As wisely said by Ned Pettus, the Columbus Public Safety Director — who is also black — shortly after the incident:

“A teenage girl is dead and she’s dead at the hands of a police officer. Under any circumstances, that is a horrendous tragedy. But the video shows that there is more to this. It requires us to pause, take a close look at the sequence of events, and though it’s not easy, wait for the facts as determined by an independent investigation. We have to ask ourselves, what information did the officer have? What did he see? How much time did he have to assess the situation, and what would have happened if he had taken no action at all?”


Take a closer look.

Wait for the facts.

Don’t minimize the tragedy, but don’t let emotion interfere with discernment.

Don’t squeeze the situation into a narrative you’ve predefined.

The story matters. The entire story. Even when it’s hard.

Yep, hard week, my friends. I continue to affirm we are in this together — on the same team — black, white, Asian, Latino, you-name-it. Always and still. May we realize such and honor one another.