Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman told reporters Goforth “was literally gunned down” in what seemed to be “an unprovoked execution style killing of a police officer.”
This is a fair description of a terrible murder. They quickly found a suspect.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Department announced that “routine research” led investigators to Miles. His arrest came after an intense manhunt overnight.
But CNN explained that they got a tip from the suspect’s mother, who added that the suspect, Shannon Miles, was home with her when the shooting occurred. After some digging, it was ascertained that Miles had some priors and spent time in the Harris County jail, providing both the taint and an attenuated motive to try to make sense of his choice as suspect.
The Harris County Sheriff faces a problem. They had a body in custody, but they didn’t have the slightest clue why Miles would have murdered Deputy Goforth. The two had never had contact, and a black guy with a prior in Houston isn’t exactly unheard of. People don’t just kill deputies.
It’s understandable that Hickman, as sheriff, would be outraged at the killing of one of his deputies. It’s understandable that he would lash out, that he would seek some way to make sense of this unknowable nightmare. And he did.
“Our assumption is he was a target because he wore a uniform,” Hickman told reporters.
When you know nothing, make up whatever works best and announce it to the press. The problem is that most deputies, most cops wear uniforms, yet don’t end up being shot and killed “execution style.” It’s a facile assumption, with a likelihood of painting an image in the minds of people who won’t delve any deeper. But it has no more validity than the deputy being a target because of his hair color.
But this begins the myth of the case, and Sheriff Hickman starts to roll:
“We heard ‘black lives matter.’ All lives matter,” Sheriff Ron Hickman said at the conference. “Well, cops’ lives matter too, so why don’t we drop the qualifier and say ‘lives matter’ and take that to the bank.”
Yes, cops’ lives matter too, but his understandable complaint reflects its own tone deafness. If all lives matter, if cop’s lives matter, then so too do the people cops shoot. These words never came out of Hickman’s mouth until it was one of his men. Only when it touches his department does he have an epiphany.
Except, it’s not an epiphany at all. It’s an excuse.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson also told reporters early Saturday the shooter would be brought to justice.
“It’s horrifying,’ Anderson added. “It’s an act of cowardice and brutality the likes of which I’ve never seen before.”
It was an act of cowardice and brutality, but it was hardly one which the rest of us have never seen before. We’ve come to see it often. All lives matter, the sheriff proclaims, but the killing of a deputy is “an act of cowardice and brutality the likes of which [Anderson’s] never seen before.”
Did he not watch as unarmed black men were gunned down by cops in cold blood? Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he didn’t care enough when others were executed to bother watching. Maybe his statement was literally correct, but a reflection of how little he cares about others.
All lives matter? Not if you can’t be bothered to watch.
Anderson echoed Hickman’s sentiments, saying “it is time for the silent majority in this country to stand up and support law enforcement.”
The words “silent majority” harken back to the days of the Vietnam war, to Richard Nixon’s plea for real Americans to be heard over the protesting voices of youth. It didn’t turn out well for Nixon.
But Anderson’s attempt to invoke the failed memory of blind faith is different than before. There is no silent majority that will blindly “stand up and support law enforcement,” as we have watched in horror as cops kill, needlessly and with impunity.
“There are a few bad apples in every profession,” she added. “That does not mean there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement.”
No, there are not a “few bad apples in every profession” that has killed more than 800 Americans so far this year, a quarter of which were unarmed. That trope won’t fly anymore. And no, there would not be “open warfare” on law enforcement.
It’s terrible that a human being, Deputy Darren Goforth, was murdered. Yet, using his death to trivialize the murders of others, black and white, at the hands of police shows how little you get, how little you care, about any life that isn’t one of yours.
All lives matter? You’re liars, and transparent liars at that. The only lives you give a damn about are yours, and the “silent majority” sees it and knows it. They won’t be fooled again.
But the irony of using Goforth’s death to pitch this failed lie is that you have no clue whether this has anything to do with why he was killed. You don’t care. You’re going to abuse this poor deputy’s murder to push your cause. And that’s clear too.