Silence after a police shooting

June 12, 2012

A 14-year-old middle school student in Texas was shot in the chest by a police officer, and nobody much seems to care.

Just after midnight on May 1, an officer of the Pasadena Independent School District responded to an alarm at a portable storage building at Miller Intermediate School. According to reports, the officer observed the student in the building. The student began to run, the officer ordered him to stop, and the officer shot the unarmed boy in the chest.

The shooting made local and national news media, even the Huffington Post--for a day.

Most reports say the student was shot because he refused to stop running, but others report the officer as saying the boy had his hands on his chest, causing the officer to suspect the unarmed youth was armed. The officer reportedly described the boy's black hoodie and black shorts, but said it was too dark to see whether the hand on the chest held a gun.

The officer also said that the boy was carrying a mesh backpack that "authorities" said contained material from the building, and the boy's presence in the building was usually described as an attempt at burglary. The officer was suspended pending an investigation. All of the immediate reports listed the boy's condition as critical.

Neither the name of the officer nor the boy was released. Every report emphasized that the officer was very upset when he learned the boy's age.

Miller Intermediate School and all the other district schools opened at the regular time that day. Counselors were brought in, and Supt. Kirk Lewis said, "We want to make the day as normal as we can for our students."

A parent in the school district expressed concern that the police officer had been a little too quick to fire his weapon. A student in the middle school said that the boy shouldn't have run from the officer. A couple of days later, there were local reports that the shooting victim was expected to recover. Case closed--no further information has been available.

The veil of silence over this attempt to impose a de facto death sentence on an unarmed suspected burglar of any age is eerily frightening. One can only assume that the officer would not be distraught at the shooting if his victim were over 18.

One can only wonder what kept the boy's classmates in this small town near Houston from leaking details about the boy and the event over social media. Something is rotten in the state of Texas, methinks.
Cindy Beringer, Austin, Texas

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