Of the many deaths we have footage of where police have used deadly force, there’s few that appear as egregious as the 2016 killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In the video, the officers have him held down. They’re on top of him. Sterling allegedly reached for his pocked (he was armed at the time). From the video, it’s hard to see if he was reaching for a weapon. He appears to be immobilized. But what’s not hard to see is an officer on top of him, with Sterling pinned to the ground repeatedly shooting him
The State of Louisiana announced today that they are not going to charge the officers who were involved in Sterling’s death.
As with so many of these other cases, no one is going to be held accountable.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that this event was a tragedy. That the officers were trigger happy. That this death was unnecessary and senseless.
I think it is important to look at cases like this and other incidents where African American men were killed by police officers and where no one was ever held to account, where no one was ever sent to prison, and to stop trying to save face or find justifications, or attack the character of the victim but to look at these situations and to have empathy for the anger and frustration that African Americans have over these events. It should be an anger and frustration which everyone has.
For many in this country, it’s not even a surprise that this is the outcome. And when groups of people can count on justice not being served, it’s a sad day for America.
When these shootings happen, and there’s an outcry, there’s so often this call to “get the facts, let’s get it sorted out.” But after that happens, it is so common for nothing to materialize legally.
Police have an extremely difficult job. No one would argue that. And the vast majority are wonderful public servants. But there are times when people go too far and when they do not act appropriately. A system cannot be just if those who enforce justice can act unjustly.
Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.