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Math not Myth: Action v Reaction

“If you wait to see the muzzle, you will see what comes out of it.” Rich Grassi

A number of OIS (Officer Involved Shootings) have brought the subject of action vs. reaction back into daily conversations, although unfortunately not always in the places where it most ought to be discussed. So too with “objective reasonableness”; another term often misunderstood or willfully ignored because uninformed and ignorant people too often rely on sound bites and carefully chosen snippets of video to make their decision. This submission to someone else's narrative is not only a mental subordination to another (and the abdication of critical thinking), it rarely addresses factual context.

As the narrator says in the video, if your mind is completely closed, what they demonstrate here will do nothing to educate or persuade you. If you're open to the idea of learning, and the scientific process, this may give you some background upon which to make a better informed decision.

Math not Myth: Action v Reaction

Think for Yourself and Be Objective

Now, with what you just watched in mind, consider this − when you are forming your opinion of an event, you should be doing more than listening to what is repeated on the TV, radio and livestream over and over again. Watch the videos. Do some research. Gather the facts rather than reacting immediately and viscerally. Ask yourself a few questions before taking the word of a person or organization whose income, influence, ratings, reach, or popularity is dependent upon sensational headlines and proclamations.

•Were his hands really up? Did he drop them a few seconds before the fatal round was fired? Did he drop just one of them?

•Was that window rolled up/door closed/person acting reasonably, as the family's attorney's claim, or was it down/open/erratically, as indicated by the investigation or DA's affidavit? Can we really tell? Does it ultimately come down to what the officers' observed? Do we trust the officers to tell the truth?

•Was the suspect unarmed? Or is the better question something like, “Was is reasonable for the officer(s) to think she was armed under the circumstances and conditions of the moment?”

•Is this single perspective video the whole story? Or are there other vantage points or perspectives that provide clarity to this valuable but necessarily myopic recording of the event?

•What happened in the moments before this video began? What happened after? What did the officer know or not know as they responded?

•Were there “several officers present” to deal with the situation? Were backing officers on scene and in a position to affect the outcome for a significant period of time? Or was it actually just a few seconds, a brief snatch of time that just seems longer because we have the luxury of slowing everything down to quarter speed and zooming in, while viewing in hindsight?

•Is the victim a PTA volunteer and school crossing guard taking online courses to better herself? Or is she all those but also someone who has frequent run-ins with the police, a history of assault, meth use, drug trafficking, and resisting arrest? Past criminality is not cause for current use of force, but it can corroborate or lend credence to an officer's description of the behavior he observed.

•Do we automatically assume this is a bigoted officer killing someone because of racism? Or is it possible this shooting was predicated on the suspect's actions? Is it possible the shooting was the result of officer tactical error, training insufficiency, or stupidity rather than racism? Does Occam's Razor apply?

^^That one is particularly important in light of recent events. Perhaps the important one.

Your Opinion May Not Change

Be objective.  Wait until all the information comes in; initial reports are always wrong, even if only by virtue of being incomplete. Make your opinion based on what you know, not on sensational headlines and dramatic social media posts. You may come to the same conclusion − if so, well and good. But if so, you'll have made it on what you observe and believe to have actually occurred rather than a couple of inflammatory Facebook posts and the same 10 seconds of a family member wailing about their loss.

Don't be reactionary. Don't allow yourself to be spoon fed. Do the math.

Learn more about Progressive Force Concepts here.

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