Police work continues, just as it always has. Even though the Black Lives Matter movement is still protesting, and cops everywhere in this country are aware of the danger they are in, the work continues. And that’s made situations like the one I’m about to detail much more complex.
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This is another one of the stories that would light up the BLM radar, and make national headlines, if it weren’t for the video. Devon Martes–a 17 year old kid (who happens to be black) was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy–David Dalton (who happens to be white). Sounds way too familiar.
Only this time, the video seems to vindicate the officer’s actions. The kid ran. He resisted arrest, pulled a gun, and even pulled the trigger. But the gun malfunctioned and the deputy shot him.
What’s making headlines, though, is a new element. Devon’s father, grieving for his lost son, isn’t making his son into a martyr. He doesn’t blame the man who shot Devon for the boy’s death.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Devon was at home Tuesday night, but left home around 11:00 p.m. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Norman said deputies responded to a report of two men “rolling shiny objects down the street.” They found Devon, who ran. One deputy tailed him into a warehouse that belongs to the local newspaper.
When he realizes there’s no place to hide, he pulls out a gun and points it at Deputy Dalton.
“Devon Martes pulled the trigger on a gun and tried to kill one of my officers. But for the fact that the gun malfunctioned, I might have a dead officer,” Normand told reporters.
After the malfunction, and before Martes had time to fix the problem, Dalton shot him. He fired six rounds.
Alesia Martes, Devon’s mother, is upset that her son was shot so many times, but she and her husband have both acknowledged that their son was not a victim. Their son threatened the officer’s life, and he responded as officers in such situations are trained to do. “He really wasn’t a bad boy,” she said, “but he put himself in that situation. He put himself in harm’s way,”
“I appreciate that statement. It’s one of the most honest statements that I’ve heard in a long, long time,” Sheriff Normand said. “It’s probably a very tough statement for that father to say that because he lost his son.”
Martes had a criminal record, from as far back as age 10. He’d been arrested for shoplifting, armed robbery, selling drugs. Martes’s parents said he’d fallen in with the typical bad crowd. He had drugs on him at the scene: pot and pills. And the serial number had been ground off of the 9mm pistol he was carrying.
The investigation into the robbery and shooting continue.
There’s something unique about this case that I think is worthy of mentioning. In our ongoing quest for unity–our attempts to bridge the racial divides that are proving fatal on both sides, we have to acknowledge that there are some instances that–on their exterior–fit a pattern. Yet they may have nothing to do with racism. And this certainly seems to be one of them.
For the parents to come out and speak honestly about their son in a tie when their grief must be so insurmountable speaks very highly of their character.