While the youth was loaded onto a stretcher, an officer started the dirt bike that the victim had been speeding on minutes before.
Minutes before, I was sitting on my front porch on a Saturday night, waiting for a friend to arrive. The usual activities were happening: music being played too loudly, neighbors chatting on their stoops, dirt bikes being driven too fast in both directions on a one-way street behind an elementary school. This time, when the bike — not street legal — appeared to be going at least double the posted limit, a cruiser followed. By no stretch of the imagination could it be categorized as a high speed chase, but the officer was obviously in pursuit, and the youth on the dirt bike seemed intent to outrun the law.
At the corner, the officer waited for a break in traffic to turn right onto Park Terrace, but when that opening seemed too long of a wait, he flashed his lights and continued on. From my porch, I could still hear the dirt bike, which sounded like it was being driven through Pope Park North, or maybe across the lawn of the Latino Studies Academy at Burns. Maybe I was hearing other dirt bikes, which are far too common in a neighborhood where there are no places to legally ride them.
Sometimes sound bounces in a way that makes it hard to tell exactly what is happening.
I did not hear a gun discharged, nor did I hear people yelling. But in another minute, the familiar sound of emergency vehicles drowned out the loud music. People at the end of my street began running.
My friend arrived, not knowing what happened, but knowing there were police, an ambulance, and a firetruck down there. That in itself is not uncommon here either. Usually the response is far greater than needed for the situation.
As we approached the end of my street — this is a typical way for us to travel toward Downtown, where we were planning to have dinner — people continued to run. A car sped into the driveway where the youth with the dirt bike lived. The man’s cries could be heard before he haphazardly parked and ran out. He ran, toward Putnam Street, inconsolably grieving in Spanish, as one would expect a parent, close family member, or friend to do when given the worst news imaginable.
Another resident intercepted him: “Don’t go over there,” she said, restraining the man.
Nobody intercepted the dozens of children and teens, primarily, who gathered in front of the Burns School.
The emergency personnel were gathered in the street. Their movements made clear the situation; this was not a rescue mission.
There was no police tape. We walked right by the remains of the young male, whose face was flawless and pudgy. Visible signs of trauma had been covered up.
This was all within five minutes from seeing him race by my porch.
From the sidewalk, some angry bystanders accused the police of shooting him twice. Words were exchanged. There was an attempt to clarify the situation. In the confusion, a person standing in the street amid the police and other first responders yelled for a hostile resident on the sidelines to shut his mouth.
The dirt bike, ditched at the edge of Pope Park North along Russ Street, was being started and revved by another officer. Two children under ten, with no parental supervision, stood closer to the police than to where the young male had been on Putnam Street.
The crowd was told that “it” happened by the park, the young male ran off, and then details were unclear. We stood, listening to information not yet filtered through the media or an official spokesperson. The youth, we were told, reached back to pull something out from the back of his pants.
We heard “tased.” We heard “shot.”
While the politicians gather to discuss the sanctity of life, it is all to evident that this rhetoric does not apply to those outside of the womb, and especially not in places like my neighborhood where the brutal collision of bravado, poor judgment, and absence of vision all too often have devastating results.
UPDATE: The above piece was written to show how utterly chaotic and confusing accident and/or crime scenes can be, where there is a crowd gathered and pieces of information are being shouted above the noise. The local paid media has, to date, reported nothing on the incident that occurred on September 1, 2012. The police have released no information publicly about the incident. If there is anyone who has credible information on this incident — not speculation or rumor, but real information — they are welcome to contact me.