Disturbing footage of Kajieme Powell’s death has emerged:
The newly released video begins before police arrive on the scene. A bystander has followed Powell after he took energy drinks and muffins from a market without paying for them, and can be heard chuckling over Powell’s erratic behavior. Powell is seen slowly pacing around the scene of the eventual shooting before police arrive. When the officers enter and draw their guns, Powell ignores warnings to put down his knife, and advances on them. He then repeatedly yells, “Shoot me!”
But Powell does not appear to be holding a knife high, and he looks to be walking normally — and to be further than two or three feet from the officers — when they open fire, killing him.
Ezra is deeply troubled by the video:
It is easy to criticize. It is easy to watch a cell phone video and think of all the ways it could have gone differently. It is easy to forget that the police saw a mentally unbalanced man with a knife advancing on them. It is easy to forget that 20 seconds only takes 20 seconds. It is easy to forget that police get scared. It is easy not to ask yourself what you might have done if you had a gun and a man came at you with a knife.
But there is still something wrong with that video. There is something wrong that the video seems obviously exculpatory to the police and obviously damning to so many who watch it. The dispute over the facts in the Michael Brown case offers the hope that there is a right answer — that Wilson either did clearly the right thing or clearly the wrong thing. The video of the Powell case delivers a harder reality: what the police believe to be the right thing and what the people they serve believe to be the right thing may be very different.