On Saturday, January 13, 26-year-old Isaiah Jackson, driving a maroon Mercedes SUV, pulled abreast of a marked Kansas City police car on Blue Parkway near Cleveland, braked, fired, shot out the back window of the car and sped away.
One of the two KCPD officers was sprayed with broken glass and suffered a cut to the back of his head. He thought at first he had been shot. The officers pursued the SUV as it sped away and arrested Jackson without apparent incident a few minutes later after they pulled his vehicle over. Jackson claimed that he had fired his handgun in the air, but police videos allegedly showed him slowing down and aiming at the police car.
The reporting on this incident so far is incomplete and oddly matter-of-fact. According to KCTV-5 News Jackson is being held only on $100,000 cash bond.
There has been no attempt as of yet to suggest a motive for the shooting. There has, however, been much talk in the local media about police shootings. On January 9, for instance, the Kansas City Star ran a story with the gratuitously provocative headline, “Woman says man didn’t threaten KC police before they shot him five times.
Police are trained to shoot multiple times if they fire at a suspect. There is nothing unusual about the five shots. According to the Star, “Police said the man was fatally shot when he brandished a handgun at the officer and refused commands to drop it.”
The unidentified woman suggested otherwise, but from the description of the event it is hard to imagine how she was in position to witness the chase, the stun gun encounter, and the eventual shooting especially given that the incident was at night. That did not stop the woman from insisting–and the Star repeating–“He should have never run but he did not have to lose his life because he wasn’t threatening them in no type of way.”
On January 12, the day before the apparent assassination attempt on the police officers, the Star ran a subsequent article headlined, “Jackson County Prosecutor cleared police in five officer-involved shootings in 2017.” Although Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker insisted the police officers were all within their rights, the Star gave ample space to various relatives of those who had been shot. To a person, they insisted the shootings were avoidable or worse.
In a video accompanying the article, Linda Dowdy, the adopted mother of a man fatally shot by a Kansas City police officer a year earlier, conceded that her son had problems. “Yes, he was a gangster,” she said. “Yes, he did criminal things,” but she still insisted he was “executed” and for “no reason.”
It was this kind of reporting that poisons the atmosphere between police and the citizenry. Whether Isaiah Jackson was taking revenge on the police remains to be seen, but it is a question that the local media need to ask. They also need to assess their own role in causing these kind of incidents to happen.