. . . and trying to make a Trayvon Martin-style martyr out of a 13-year-old boy. You can read about the incident here. Briefly, a teenage boy in Santa Rosa, California was walking down the street carrying an AK-47-style pellet or BB gun - the descriptions aren't clear, but witnesses agree that it looked like an AK-47 assault rifle, and did not have an orange muzzle or anything else to show it was a toy. When challenged by police, instead of complying with their instructions and dropping the gun, the boy is said to have turned towards them while raising it. One policeman opened fire, with fatal consequences for the boy.
The policeman's name has since been revealed to be Erick Gelhaus. I'm sure many of you in the shooting community already know this, and those who haven't yet read the news are thinking to themselves, "Where have I heard that name before?" Erick's a well-known policeman and shooting instructor, as well as a military veteran. He's written many articles online and for print publications about shooting and police matters. He's also trained many cops. I've moved in the same online circles as he has for many years, and I respect all he's been able to accomplish.
Trouble is, the media - particularly the far left - are trying to make him out to be a trigger-happy cop who shot an innocent kid. Witness this opening sentence in a Huffington Post article today:
The Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who gunned down a 13-year-old California boy over a toy gun has been identified.
Talk about pre-judging the issue! Note the weasel words:
- "gunned down", an expression implying criminal violence, instead of simply "shot";
- Calling the teen a 'boy' without referring to his size or appearance, thereby implying that he was a child instead of a young adult (a far more appropriate description for a 13-year-old);
- "over a toy gun" - a complete misstatement of the facts. If the law enforcement reports I've read are correct, Erick shot a young man who turned towards him while raising what appeared to be an AK-47-type rifle. It could not be recognized as a toy in the time available or at the distance he was from the suspect, and he could not afford to risk taking the time to find out. If he'd guessed wrongly, he'd have died there and then. It's a hard fact of law enforcement; if you hesitate, the odds are pretty good you won't be going home that night. Far too many cops have found that out the hard way.
The left is trying to turn this into a crusade for "justice" for a "boy", without waiting to learn the facts of the matter or find out more about the policeman they're demonizing. If your stomach can stand it, here's one example to show you what they're trying to do. It's sickeningly biased and partisan. Other reports are more balanced, such as this one, or this profile of Erick.
Based on my knowledge of Erick, gleaned over the course of many years, I'm going to come down firmly on his side. I don't think he's anything like the person his critics are trying to portray. I'm sure he's very distressed at having shot so young a man . . . but I also know that in the heat of the moment, faced with an imminent threat such as he was, I'd probably have opened fire too. I've received law enforcement training in the use of firearms. Our instructors were very blunt about the need to respond to a threat before that threat could kill you. That appears to be precisely what Erick did.
I understand the concerns of those who believe that our law enforcement officers are becoming over-militarized and far too prone to ride roughshod over our constitutional rights. I share those concerns, as those of you who've been regular readers will know. However, I don't think this incident involves any such concerns; nor do I think Erick can be numbered among those who think or act that way. I'd trust him to 'watch my six' in a heartbeat, and I'd do the same for him. There aren't many LEO's of whom I'd say that.
I'd be grateful if my fellow bloggers could please publicize the facts of this matter, either by linking to this post, or by composing their own. We need to provide some facts to counterbalance the falsehoods being propagated by left-wing propaganda outlets. I'd also be grateful if those of you so inclined would join me in praying for the deceased young man, and his family, and Erick, and his family, and all other victims in this affair - except for those trying to make political capital out of it. They deserve nothing but contempt, scorn and derision.