A 13-year-old kid with an airsoft gun takes a police bullet and your heart breaks. Then your head takes over and wonders what the Hell is up with the adults in this boy's life.
Is it all that hard to plant the simple message in a young skull that if you start waving a toy gun around, some people are quite reasonably going to think it's a real one. And get scared. And shoot you. Did anyone ever tell him so?
I put myself in the cop's place. While I like to think I'd have been been quicker to analyze and decide nothing lethal was needed, I am not all sure I could have.
It's getting getting dark. The dispatcher sent me to check out an armed robbery. The neighborhood isn't exactly a Norman Rockwell scene. My suspect ran into an alley and I saw his gun, a dead ringer for a Glock. And I wanted to go home under my own power at shift's end. Wife. Kids.
The finer points can and will be debated in and out of the media, the courts, the demonstrations to the tune of millions of words, and eventually we may have some vague idea of what actually happened.
Now, the first police reports suggest the lad and an older chum did use the fake pistol to rob somebody. Maybe he was on the fast track to violent adult thuggery. Maybe not. None of that is the point, which is, dammit, don't waggle guns at cops. Real ones. Fake ones. If you do, you're very likely to die.
Why don't you have a little talk with your kids tonight?