A 14-year-old shot by police officers in New York City this weekend has the dubious honor of being the youngest ever killed by the NYPD. Police say Shaaliver Douse was armed with a 9-mm. pistol when he was killed. Worse, they say he was actively shooting at another man who was running away from him in the Bronx.
Now Shaaliver is dead. And two rookie cops, for whom this was their first ever on-the-job shooting, have to face the rest of their lives knowing they killed a kid.
What kind of world are we living in?
We can't say whether this was the right thing for the officers to have done. That's up to the detectives who are poring through the evidence of a shooting that rocked a city and a nation.
If the 14-year-old was indeed armed, if he was indeed shooting, if he did ignore cops' orders to drop the gun -- and there is camera footage to back up their stories -- then the case should be easy to close. The 26-year-old officer who did the shooting and the other young officer involved could be back on the streets in no time.
But whether it was a clean shooting or not, there's no way this was easy.
The officer didn't just shoot someone. He killed someone. And he didn't just kill someone. He killed a 14-year-old, a child.
That is bound to weigh on one's conscience regardless of the situation, regardless of the fact that this kid could have killed them.
Kids shouldn't be holding guns. Kids shouldn't be shooting people. Kids shouldn't be in a position to be shot by police.
But Shaaliver Douse's rap sheet shows he was a 14-year-old who was already causing problems. He'd been arrested for possession of a loaded weapon before, allegedly shot another teenage before. He was 14, but he was no innocent.
We live in a world where a 14-year-old has a rap sheet.
We live in a world where a 14-year-old is allegedly armed and shooting at someone on an open street, where a 14-year-old allegedly refuses to lay down his weapon even when ordered to do so by police.
This is reality.
My heart goes out to the family of this young boy, but it goes out to the police here too. They may have just been doing their jobs, but we shouldn't be living in a world where it's someone's job to shoot a 14-year-old so he won't shoot someone else.
Unfortunately, it seems we do.