By JEAN MARIE BROWN
Videos from police and citizens are prompting media to rethink the relationship between law enforcement and minorities, but the Today Show’s Jeff Rossen is stuck in the reality that if you just do what the police say everything will be fine. Today’s Rossen Report reinforced the idea the fault in fatal encounters between police and civilians in traffic stops is always the fault of the dead citizen. Rossen’s clip was introduced with video from Sandra Bland’s encounter with Texas Trooper Brian Encinia (she later died under suspicious circumstances inside a Texas jail) and former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing stopping Samuel Dubose. Then Rossen goes into helpful mode “to demonstrate what you are required to do when the police pull you over.” ANSWER: Provide your license and proof of insurance and get out of the car if instructed. In other words, if these people had just behaved, they would be alive. But how can he make such a claim? The video of these stops has given America a glimpse driving while black.
In announcing, Tensing’s indictment Hamilton County prosecuting attorney, Joseph Deters called Dubose’s death, “a senseless, asinine shooting.”
- Dubose shouldn’t have been stopped and immediately after the shooting Tensing starts building a narrative in which he’s the victim – he claimed that he was being dragged.
- Stopping Bland was also questionable, especially since she changed lanes without signalling because an officer was behind her.
- If the events of the past year have shown anything, it’s the vagaries that minorities often encounter in their dealings with the police.
- The scene Rossen created – a white male stopped by a black male officer – was the complete opposite of what’s been happening. Why not ask a white officer about how he is trained to work with minorities?
- Finally, NBC News tweeted a side-to-side image of smiling, uniformed former University of Cincinnatti police officer Ray Tensing dated mugshot alongside a dated mugshot of DuBose. The image of DuBose is completely unrelated to the story about how and why he died, and paints DuBose as a dangerous criminal, which supports the police officer’s now questionable narrative of being “in fear for his life.” By looking at this image, if one didn’t know better, we’d think that it was DuBose who was indicted for murder, not Tensing. For the record, Tensing pleaded not guilty Thursday on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 19 shooting death of DuBose.
Somehow this all escaped Rossen and his producers, since they thought it would be a good idea to explain to how behave when stopped. The segment was inane journalism that offered nothing toward a constructive conversation. Worse, it colored the news coverage, suggesting that both Bland and DuBose were responsible for their own deaths.