Golden State Warriors’ Coach Steve Kerr doesn’t like guns. In fairness to him, he has a reason. His father was shot and killed, which can push someone to not like firearms, particularly if they’re inclined in that direction anyway.
However, the problem is that Kerr likes to pontificate on the topic of guns and police procedure, even though he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.
Steve Kerr wasn’t shocked to hear of another Black man killed by law enforcement, and neither was Lloyd Pierce. They’re NBA coaches, Kerr with the Warriors and Pierce with the Hawks. They’re also activists.
They’re achingly familiar with such incidents as that which took place Monday in Philadelphia.
Walter Wallace Jr., 27, was shot multiple times by multiple police officers in Philadelphia. He was waving a knife while experiencing a mental health crisis when he was killed by officers standing at least 10 feet away. His mother went from begging the officers not to shoot to wailing in agony as her son dropped to the pavement.
The incident was, of course, caught on video. It’s nauseating. It’s too routine in America.
“We’ve come to expect this sort of thing,” Kerr said. “The disturbing thing, the most disturbing thing, that is even after the social justice movement, all the protests and even after all the anger and the outrage, these incidents are still happening.
“There’s got to be an alternative way of meeting the needs of mental health issues, rather than going in with a SWAT team, guns blazing.”
Alright, there’s a lot going on that Kerr and people like him don’t even begin to comprehend.
First, let’s address the fact that Wallace was having a “mental health crisis.” That may well be the complete and honest truth. However, it also doesn’t matter nearly as much as some people want to think. If someone is having a mental health issue, they may need help, but that has to come secondary to the safety of other people.
I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. You can try to talk them down, but you’re simply not going to have time to do it if they’ve decided instead to hurt someone for whatever reason.
Further, law enforcement isn’t remotely able to judge whether it’s a mental health episode that will fizzle out in a few seconds or if the subject is going to kill people. They have to act. If they don’t and people die, what do you think the headlines would say? Honestly, the cops were in a no-win situation.
Second, let’s address the whole “officers standing at least 10 feet away.”
Folks, it takes no time at all to clear 10 feet. For example, a slow time in the 40-yard sprint is about six to seven seconds. That’s slow for the NFL, at least, but probably decent for most people. A good time in that is around 4.5 seconds or faster. Now, that’s 40 yards.
10 feet is just a smidge over three yards.
Almost any able-bodied person can cover that in a second.
To put that in perspective for someone like Kerr, think of the distance between the baseline and the free-throw line on a basketball court. That’s 19 feet, so just under twice that distance. How long does it take someone to cover that distance? Not long at all.
In gun training, we talk about something called the 21-foot rule. The basic idea is that someone inside 21 feet can get to you fast enough that a knife has a chance of potentially beating a gun.
Wallace was around 10 feet away.
So yes, the police shot him when he wouldn’t put down the knife. His mental health state wasn’t relevant since he represented a danger to other people at that moment. The fact that he had a knife was relevant, but only because it was a lethal weapon and thus justified lethal force. The distance was irrelevant because he was still close enough to cover the distance quickly and injure or kill someone else.
Look, there will be an investigation and they may find that the officers did something wrong. What I will say, though, is that what people like Kerr are focusing on? That’s not where the problem is going to be.