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Perspective On The Brutal Murder Of Sergeant Clayton

Perspective On The Brutal Murder Of Sergeant Clayton

As usual, I try not to comment on the obvious in these situations. My intentions are to explain to the public why officers do some of the things that they do.

Markeith Loyd was wanted for his involvement in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. He was spotted near a Walmart when Master Sgt. Debra Clayton observed him.

A witness stated that the suspect was “an average- looking dude, he walked by me, had a security vest and everything! I heard the the officer tell him to stop and he shot her.” This witness account is full of educational gems. The witness felt that the suspect appeared normal. There was nothing about him that would lead a regular person to believe that he was a criminal. Loyd was walking as opposed to running. When people observe a person running, that hints at the fact that that person might be a suspect. Loyd walked. Loyd wore a security vest appearing to be a regular man on his way to work. The civilian had no warning that Loyd was capable of what he did, neither did Sgt. Clayton.

Many civilians get upset and frequently post stories about “working while black.” These people narrate their experience of wearing some type of work uniform when a citizen erroneously decided to call the police on them because they look “suspicious.” I know how annoying that is because I have had the police called on me several times too. It makes you angry because these type of things don’t happen to everyone and it further shows how far we have to go as a nation to eradicate racism. When these things happen to a certain group of people so often, it is hard to even consider that there is any legitimacy for the suspicion. The worker is usually insulted that someone called the police on them because they were simply doing their job in full uniform. The person is typically wearing a cable repair man uniform, HVAC uniform, Walmart uniform, or even a security guard uniform. I am not stupid enough to believe that the police are not unjustly called on certain people as a direct result of someone’s racism. The point I am making is that the reason for the call for police is initially IRRELEVANT to the responding officer. An officer’s first concern is safety. If the police are called to handle a situation, they have to process the situation as it was presented to them until they can determine for themselves who is the actual suspect.

This means that you could be detained, not have a clue what is going on, be frustrated beyond belief, have your kids watch you being detained, not allowed to make phone calls, not given an immediate explanation as to what is happening, all while actually being innocent. This would upset anyone, but don’t get charged with resisting because you know that you have done nothing wrong. The situation sucks for everyone involved.

Imagine attempting to investigate a suspicious person at 7:15 am. What are the odds of something transpiring at Walmart this early in the morning? Imagine having a pistol pointed in your face when you simply went to Walmart to get some socks before work. Imagine being an actual security guard in uniform, with a pistol in your face and being told to get on the ground. Imagine the frustration and anger. Imagine the assumptions you would make if you were simply standing by this incident as it occurred to someone else. Imagine how your mind would shift to the security uniform worn by the suspect and how your mind would tell you that the police must have the wrong person. After the officer said the word stop, how many tenths of a second passed before Loyd turned around and shot her? How many tenths of a second will pass before an average officer can process that someone is holding a weapon and respond to that threat?

I do not condone police brutality, but officers are allowed to protect themselves until they can determine what is going on regarding a situation. I go out of my way to explain to people why I pointed my pistol at them AFTER the situation is safe because I understand how stressful that is to an innocent person. Try to keep that in mind if you are unfortunate enough to have this situation happen to you.

Sgt. Clayton saw a man walking, wearing a security uniform and only got the words “stop” out of her mouth before she was brutally murdered. This could have ended with the suspect actually being innocent and accusing her of racial bias, but it didn’t. She was murdered. She was married with 2 children.

Police and community relations are tough for us all, but we all have to do our part to try and understand each other. RIP Sister.  #perspective

About The Author

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Chelsea Whitaker is a Dallas Area Police Officer and member of the 2005 Baylor Bear Basketball Team that won the National Championship. Her desire is to give others #perspective in order to #bridgethegap. She is a frequent contributor to Law Officer.

  • ahaz

    I think this officer is conflating issues. Of course anything can happen at any time to anyone. I could get hit by a car jogging along side a road. I could get mugged walking through an alley on my way to club. I could even get shot while hunting. I could choke to death while eating dinner. Life is full of inherent risks. When I became a soldier, I new full well that I could be put in a combat situation and potentially lose my life. I accepted that risk. A law officer willingly accepts more risk that the average citizen when they select law enforcement as a career. The officer she referenced ran into a person already involved in a murder and was tragically killed while performing her duties. The fact that anyone of these things that I had mentioned does not give an officer free reign to draw a weapon on a citizen without cause, without a direct threat to the officer. In every other Westernized nation, the act of drawing a un-holstering a weapon and pointing at a citizen is considered a violent act….but not here. In fact, drawing a weapon here is almost a casual act by too many law enforcement. Compound that act of violence with the introduction of an innocent citizen. A citizen caught up in the dragnet of “suspicious’ behavior instead of reasonable and articulable suspicion. Imagine the all too realistic scenario where a citizen walking down the street is stopped by police, attacked and then sent on his merry way because he/she wasn’t the person the police were looking for? What is the citizen supposed to think of that interaction or even toward the police in general? I understand the need to for officers to be safe, however that need shouldn’t supplant the rights of citizens to feel safe as well. I don’t believe any person will feel any difference if a the person pointing the weapon at a them wears a uniform or not…fear is the what they would feel. And in the case of LE, the fear would turn to immediate distrust and then there would be the collective shrug from LE…at least they felt safe, they had the weapon.

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