Its dominos

There’s got to be a phrase for the examination of the interaction between Wilson and Brown in Ferguson and the identification of what likely actually happened. It’s not ‘game theory’ I don’t think. It’s ‘chaos chain’ or ‘event chain’ or ‘crisis dominos’, although that is somewhat antiseptic in alluding to the brew of street bravado and escalation that was fomenting. But the Occam’s razor scenario can be spelled out if you are worldly / empathic enough.

I’d guess:

That Wilson drove past these guys and yelled for them to get off the road, and that he was less polite than he testified.

They lipped off, which they shouldn’t of and would have been wise not to. But these guys are dumb young men.

Wilson hit the brakes, and reversed to coral them against the curb with his SUV. He was responding emotionally to an affront to his authority and was professionally derelict here. He should have calmed down and waited for another guy to approach these two. And then tried to engage them conversationally, low key. How ya doing, whatcha upto.

He thinks he’s going to get out and make these two respect his authority. This is also bad judgment, as he’s alone, two on one. And it’s provocative. These two may very well have been nervous about the store incident, but in the split second moment they are worried about getting clubbed over the head with a baton. Which they would instinctly react to avoid. This is merely what Brown down does in closing the door on Wilson.

But we have a physical confrontation going now, in which Wilson is basically professionally obligated to subdue his foe. He’s behind the door in the SUV, and he grabs for Brown’s collar. His intent here is probably to pull hard and smack Brown’s forehead into the window frame. But Brown is too big, sturdy, and immovable. Brown punches Wilson in the face to counter him.

Wilson gets his gun out, which is, I guess, a proper response to him being in danger as a peace officer and now a proper tool to use to end the conflict. Speaking merely judicially. But it’s a direct result of having provoked a fight or flight reaction from Brown over the course of a few seconds. It wasn’t a professional attempt at an arrest, and Brown’s reaction wasn’t an ‘assault’ of a law enforcement officer. It’s a guy reacting to being jumped on the street. But the law has no way of properly crediting Brown’s reaction here to Wilson’s ham-handed malfeasance.

So they fight some more, and the gun goes off, and Brown runs, and then he turns back, and is mortally shot.

I think it’s like likely that Wilson was firing as Brown was running away, though it doesn’t seem any shots at Brown’s back hit him. I don’t know why Brown would stop, turn back, and run at Wilson. But I doubt also, and strongly, that it was a new assault attempt. It was more likely medical shock and dissonance. If he had a superficial gunshot wound to an arm from the encounter at the SUV, that still hurts like getting banged ten times on the thumb full force with a hammer. Pain like that is disorienting.

Now it can and is argued that these guys were thugs and they responded thuggishly, and Wilson responded to that professionally. But fact is Wilson didn’t respond professionally, and as a professional his obligations to act correctly are higher. Ya know, so that rights are observed and that law enforcement doesn’t cause chaos on the streets, especially those that marginalized populations live on. It’s disappointing that the civil libertarians on the right haven’t made this point yet, or are getting drowned out.

On the left, “hands up, don’t shoot” is yes, a powerful dramatic analogy I guess, but that’s not what went on here, and the truth ought to be powerful enough. There’s a credibility problem in making this something it’s not.

Anyway, I expect no progress to come out of it now that we’re arguing about the wrong things.


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