September 23, 2016

WELL, I’M HOPING TO SEE THIS CIVIL RIGHT EXPAND: In America, Guns Are For Whites Only. It’s Eugene Robinson, so he’s got to get his licks in against the NRA, but actually the NRA called for an investigation in the Philando Castile case, though it could have moved faster in doing so.

That someone is carrying a weapon doesn’t make them a threat that police should respond to. Drawing a gun and pointing it is a different matter, obviously. Police need to be better trained on this.

On the other hand, Tennessee’s self-defense law is already benefiting minorities:

The man who shot and killed an armed robbery suspect at a Knoxville convenience store may avoid charges under Tennessee law — despite the fact he was a felon with a gun.

Issac Jamal Scruggs, 42, of Knoxville, was at a Breadbox convenience store early Monday on Asheville Highway when 18-year-old Tamon Stapleton held the clerk at gunpoint.

Scruggs, a friend of the clerk’s, shot and killed Stapleton. A previous felony conviction would ban Scruggs from carrying the gun he used, but Tennessee law says the fact he protected someone else means the gun charge doesn’t matter.

“It trumps any other firearms charges that might exist per statute. Now, the only thing that could come in play is it doesn’t preclude the federal government,” said Knoxville attorney Don Bosch, who is not directly connected to the case.

Scruggs is a felon, with past convictions for aggravated assault and possession of weapons more than 10 years ago. So far, no charges have been filed against him, and Knoxville Police say they consider the case closed.

As I said at the time, this seems entirely just.

UPDATE: The above reminded me of this story, reproduced in full below:


A crowd gathered as Knoxville Police Department Lt. Gordon Gwathney struggled with the screaming black woman in the public housing development.

Gwathney already had shot his stun gun at the 5-foot-2-inch tall woman, but her crack cocaine high made her impervious to the electric jolt designed to freeze the muscles of large men. She ripped the metal wires from her body and continued to fight.

As he tussled with the 110-pound woman, the crowd of onlookers in Walter P. Taylor Homes swelled. Gwathney’s radio was ripped from his uniform as he forced the woman to the ground, so calling for help as the crowd closed in around him was not an option.

As he fought to get handcuffs on the squirming woman, two people from the crowd jumped into the fray.

“I saw something I thought I’d never see — people come to the aid of an officer,” Dewey Roberts, former president of Knoxville NAACP, told a community group last week. “They were telling her to calm down and they got his radio that had been knocked loose.”

Roberts witnessed the event through a window at the Dr. Lee Williams Complex, a senior citizens center he oversees in Walter P. Taylor Homes. Roberts had seen the confrontation develop despite Gwathney “trying to de-escalate the situation” and worried as he saw the crowd of black onlookers encircle the lone officer.

“With my experiences with police over the years, I was just amazed,” said the 69-year-old Roberts who led Knoxville’s black community through the racial tinderbox in the late 1990s when several black men died during confrontations with Knoxville officers.

“And it wasn’t just a few people, it was the whole crowd. I was shaking my head in disbelief, but it was a good feeling.”

Well, good.

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