I’m so sick of hearing parents of criminals complain that their “baby” was unjustifiably “murdered” by police officers.
Yesterday in Pittsburgh, an officer shot and killed a 19 year old man who shot and killed his police dog. Two officers and a police dog in a marked police car responded to a report of shots fired. When they arrived at the scene, one of the officers spotted Justin Jackson, who had his hand under his shirt. When he was ordered to show his hand, Jackson pulled out a gun. The canine officer then deployed his dog and Jackson shot the dog in his chest and front legs, fatally wounding him. The officer then shot and killed Jackson. Police Chief Nate Harper stated the dog did what he was trained to do and called the shooting a justifiable action.
The dead man’s parents do not. Here’s a quote from the dead man’s father from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review: “"This needs to stop. The police are using excessive force and killing young black men," said the victim's father, Donald Jackson of the West End. "It doesn't make sense, this is terrible, and I want answers."” And from the mother: “"We are not going to let them get away with this!" Anna Jackson screamed. "They will pay for killing my son. They are going to pay for shooting my son over a dog!"”
While I feel sympathetic to the fact that they lost their son, he killed what, by law, amounts to killing a police officer. If Jackson would have showed his hand or put the gun down, the whole incident would have ended differently. Jackson caused his own death by his actions.
Although his father stated his son did not own or carry a gun, according to court records, Justin Jackson did have an arrest record for firearms violations, assault, and criminal conspiracy.
The Pittsburgh Police Department is flying the flag outside headquarters at half-staff and some officers are wearing the symbol of mourning—a black band over their badges. They are mourning a fallen officer.
There will be a thorough investigation of the incident by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, but I’m sure they’ll come to the right conclusion. While certainly tragic, the shooting was justifiable.