Let's Wait Until The Facts Are Out Before We Rush To Conclusions About Tyree King's Death

NBC News screenshot
NBC News screenshot

13-year-old Tyree King was shot and killed by police officers in Columbus, Ohio last night. Naturally, whenever something like this happens, there's a rush on social media to vilify, assign blame, and create hashtags. But we have to keep level heads and refrain from hysterics. Because we weren't there, and we don't know who's really to blame and at fault, so we should wait until the facts are out before we jump to any conclusions.


We don't know why none of the officers at the scene had body cameras on. Maybe there was a camera malfunction or glitch or something. A camera malfunction or glitch or something that happened to affect each of the available police body cameras in Columbus. It would be unwise to conclude, at this juncture, that deciding not to wear cameras was an intentional and conspiratorial act to conceal their activity. That they're very aware that not wearing the cameras allows the report of police involvement to be their word versus the suspect's word, and that they wish to take advantage of that.

We also don't know why, between Tyree King, Tamir Rice, and John Crawford III (all killed while wielding toy guns), this keeps happening to young Black males in Ohio, which is an open carry state. Maybe these are just tragic coincidences, like going to happy hour and seeing someone with the exact same shirt you're wearing. It would be foolish to assume that the open carry laws only apply to people who don't happen to be Black, despite the evidence that would seem to make that assumption a reality.

And, we still don't know exactly why Bryan Mason, the officer who shot and killed Tyree King, has been involved in three shootings in the last six years, killing at least two (King and John E. Kaufmann Jr) of the people he shot. Maybe he's not volatile, trigger-happy, and murderous. Maybe he doesn't enjoy and have a particular talent for shooting and killing people. Maybe he's not a sociopath who joined the police force with the sole purpose of killing as many people as possible. Maybe he just keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time. But with a loaded weapon and lethal intent.

Again, let's keep our heads and wait until the facts are out. Rushing to conclusions doesn't help anyone.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



I just binge-watched the ESPN series on OJ last night. I was particularly interested in the parts that dealt with how police in LA brutalized Black folks in LA. Also, the part about Mark Fuhrman and what a lying piece of racist trash he was.

The thing I came away with is that this is business as usual. Police have been murdering and brutalizing us since the first police force in this country. Killing us is in police DNA. They do not know how to operate without killing us. Killing us is apart of their mandate and the majority of White Americans are fine with this.

Which means that the only way to really stop them from murdering us is to disband every police force in the country and start from scratch. And this from someone who when I first heard Black folks talking about disbanding and defunding police departments thought it was a ridiculous idea or at least unfeasible.

But, it really is the only way to stop them.