At some point, police officers, in any given situation, need to ask themselves whether they’re doing more harm than good, whether they’re pursuing justice or satisfaction for their own egos, and whether they’re making things safer for the general public or adding to the immediate danger.
On Friday, a 12-year-old Black child died in a car crash after a Georgia State Patrol trooper performed a PIT maneuver on the car he was riding in during a high-speed chase—a heartbreaking story there are multiple levels to.
According to NBC News, Leden Boykins, the truest victim of this senseless tragedy, was riding with a friend of his parents, Charlie Moore, and Moore’s 14-year-old son.
The police said Moore was initially pulled over for speeding and that they suspected him of driving under the influence, but before we circle back to that, let’s talk about Black people’s right to be afraid of the police.
According to the police, after Moore was pulled over, he refused to “lower his driver window or produce any type of identification,” which led to an officer breaking the driver-side window and Moore driving away.
Was speeding off and starting a cop chase with children in the car a reckless move? Yep, as was escalating things by breaking the car window in the first place.
A person who has never been Black while dealing with cops their whole life might assume Moore fleed to escape arrest as if that were something he could actually do in a car that’s registered to him, but what he did next should dispel any notion that he was motivated by anything but a reflexive fear of police.
While state troopers were pursuing Moore, he was on the phone with Paulding County 911 dispatch panicked and expressing terror at the sheer number of police officers who were chasing him.
“I am afraid. I’m afraid for my life,” he can be heard saying during the recorded call, according to 11 Alive. “They need to get them off of me, right now, because I’m scared, I’ve got my kids with me, right now.”
“I’ve got my kids with me, man,” he continued. “Oh my God, no, they’re trying to flip my car, man.”
Leden’s father, Anthony Boykins, and his mother, Toni, said they heard the 911 recording. Anthony rightfully acknowledged that Moore “does bear some responsibility” because “he was pulled over, and he had kids in the car,” but he still ultimately wondered why the troopers couldn’t find a more practical way to end the pursuit—one that didn’t indicate a wanton disregard for the physical safety of two Black children.
“Why was he [Moore] considered so dangerous that they had to flip that car with them kids in there?” Anthony asks. “Why did he [the trooper] make that decision? Why did he decide to flip that car knowing there was kids in there?”
11 Alive noted that “Georgia State Patrol chase policy requires troopers to evaluate all possible variables, including whether there are children in the car they are chasing, before deciding whether to perform a PIT maneuver,” and that troopers “must consider several, specific methods of stopping a fleeing vehicle before they consider using the PIT maneuver.”
Despite the troopers appearing to have completely ignored protocol, the authorities apparently disagree with Anthony that Moore only bears some of the responsibility for Lenden’s death—they think he bears all of it.
Moore is now charged with murder during the commission of a felony, first-degree homicide by vehicle, and aggravated assault against a peace officer. He’s also was charged with DUI, having an open container in a motor vehicle, and driving on a suspended license.
Indeed, Moore needs to face consequences for his role in Leden’s death but to call him a murderer when he didn’t perform the deadly PIT maneuver only reminds us of why the “blue lives matter” response to “Black lives matter” is bogus.
Our entire justice system says blue lives matter first, that their fear matters more than ours and that they’re inherently entitled to the benefit of the doubt.