September 16th, 2016

The scene above from the Scandal episode The Lawn Chair, aired on 5 March of last year is, of course, fiction. Like all good fiction, however, the writers take us closer to reality than we often like to go, and that is what good writers must do.

In the real world we would never see a scene like the above. Lawyers and fixers would keep that part of the story out of the public eye and leave the rest of us to wonder and speculate. I didn’t see this when the episode first aired, I’m watching on Netflix, but current events have smashed the power of that scene into our collective faces.

Ciara McCarthy, reporting in Columbus police fatally shoot 13-year-old boy carrying BB gun for The Guardian, writes:

Police in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was carrying a BB gun, authorities said.

The air gun which Tyre King was holding had a laser sight. An officer mistook it for a lethal firearm, police said. The boy was shot multiple times and died in a Columbus children’s hospital.

Authorities said officers were responding to a report of a robbery in which several people, one carrying a gun, approached a man and demanded money. Police said officers spotted three people, including Tyre, who matched a description of the robbers.

The officers approached the group and Tyre and one of his companions fled, police said. Tyre was shot multiple times after allegedly pulling the BB gun from his waistband.

The city’s mayor and police chief spoke to reporters on Thursday morning, promising a thorough investigation.

Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther called the boy’s death “troubling”.

“Any loss of life is tragic but the loss of a young person is particularly difficult,” he said.

Police chief Kim Jacobs confirmed the basic police account of the shooting and said Tyre was carrying a gun that looked “practically identical” to the guns carried by Columbus police. The shooting will be investigated by Columbus detectives and presented to a grand jury by a local prosecutor, officials said. The grand jury will decide whether to charge the officer involved.

I had a conversation the other day about what actions we ought to be taking in the wake of this death toll that just keeps rolling. Here are two that I think would be good starting points:

No. 1: No police involved shooting should be handled by internal affairs or a local district attorney with a pet grand jury. Only an independent prosecutor should be allowed to investigate and, if found appropriate, prosecute those involved. So far this year, The Guardian’s The Counted project has listed the names of 761 people killed by police in our nation. Tyre King has not yet been counted.

No. 2: Every county ought to have a police review board with the power to fire police chiefs. The panel should consist of elected volunteers representing the diverse communities in the county. I would recommend no more than five members on such a board. The board must have subpoena power to compel testimony at open meetings. The board must not be allowed to meet in private in any sense. The volunteers would be elected annually and serve for no more than two years.

I’m sure that others more closely involved with such boards will have smarter ideas but I think these are good starting points.

Our problems run deep. They are complex and cannot be fixed in 43 minutes. We cannot escape into our fantasies as IMBD commenter elizabeth_rose324 would seem to desire.

I don’t watch entertainment television to have politics pushed on me. I understand that much of this show is politically based, but including true world politics, such as the modern day issues between the black community and police officers is truly uncalled for. It’s almost despicable. Scandal, why must you push such a political agenda? I don’t want to see an entire episode wrapped around cop hating. Just stop. I feel like I can’t watch TV anymore without a political message nowadays. This episode included a white police officer shooting a young black boy and this inevitably becomes a real world situation, obviously reflecting that of Trayvon Martin. Please, for goodness sakes, just avoid actual politics in a TV show and just create new story lines.

I understand Elizabeth’s pain; reality has overwhelmed her. I have a friend who won’t go see sad movies because the real world is too sad. Maybe that is Elizabeth’s case. We don’t know. Or, perhaps, shows like this overwhelm her cognitive dissonance and she just wants to live in her fantasy of when America was great.

We the people don’t have that luxury.


  1. I still have the Johnny Eagle replica Model 1911 Colt .45 pistol I received for Christmas in 1964. My parents never thought I might be murdered for owning the toy.

    Into the blind world we have now descended. —Publius Vergilius Maro

  2. By now, this story is tragically familiar. Tyre King is the third black person in Ohio in roughly the last two years to be killed by police who mistook a replica gun he was carrying for a real firearm — and he likely won’t be the last. The first was John Crawford III, who was shot and killed at a Walmart in Beavercreek after picking up a pellet rifle off the toy shelf in July 2014. The second was 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding an airsoft gun at a Cleveland park in November 2014 when Officer Timothy Loehmann drove up to him and shot him.

    Once may be an accident and twice becomes suspicious but three times tells me that police are reacting out of blind fear.

    Into the blind world we have now descended
    . —Publius Vergilius Maro

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