by Travis Mateer
Don’t let the cute headline fool you, something stinks so bad with the “officer involved shooting” on August 27th that the Missoulian’s editorial board quoted a line from the movie Tombstone, asking “Who’ll be our huckleberry?”
Here’s how bad the lack of transparency has been, according to the Missoulian (emphasis NOT mine):
Somebody died by gunfire surrounded by law enforcement in Missoula on August 27 outside the Missoula Smokejumper Center. We still don’t know their name. We don’t know if they died by a law enforcement bullet or their own gun. We don’t know which law enforcement agency — Missoula City Police, Missoula County Sheriff, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Ravalli County Sheriff, Montana Highway Patrol, or Missoula Montana Airport — has the direct connection to the dead person. We do know all those agencies had personnel on the scene. We do know that “robberies” were involved, although we don’t know what connection the dead person had to those robberies. We do know that in past “officer-involved shooting” incidents, the name of the dead person has been released in a much more timely manner. In this time of extreme nationwide tension regarding “officer-involved shooting” incidents, law enforcement credibility and public trust depend on transparency and accountability. Chokecherries are an inadequate metaphor of disapproval for the official silence surrounding this incident.
I find this admission by the Missoulian–of being locked out of basic facts that would normally come in a timely manner–to be truly shocking. If they’re saying this in print, what’s been going on behind the scenes?
While it’s easy to start blaming on-the-ground authorities for whatever happened, I know from the work I used to do that it’s not that simple. For example, before posting the footage I recorded earlier today of a someone I know being arrested, I want to tell a quick story about a female officer I spoke with earlier this week.
While taking my morning skate around the streets of downtown for coffee, I came across an officer talking to Harley. Was there a call on him, I asked? No, she said, she was just checking in to see how he was doing. After a short chat with her, I determined this was a genuine check-in, not a harass-the-homeless-dude-for-his-vodka check-in.
I think it might have been the same officer who I saw earlier today arresting the alleged grandkid of Norris Bradbury. Before recording the footage, I was watching the officers speak with the group of homeless people who have been regularly hanging out on the sidewalk across from the courthouse. The man who got himself arrested was using some harsh profanity toward the officers, then he stood with his arms outstretched to be arrested. That’s when I started recording.
What was Doug arrested for? Resisting arrest.
The chaos from drug abuse, and the co-occurring presence of mental health issues, are increasingly difficult to ignore. If law enforcement is responding by shutting out the little media coverage we DO get, that is NOT good at all.
Another incident that needs to be examined is the “false alarm” that brought SWAT to West Broadway. WTF is going on in this
I’m glad to see the Missoulian editorial board getting a little pissed about this breakdown in information sharing. I hope they let us know what kind of response they get so I can return to blaming their meager reports on the idiotic slashing of newsroom capacity for shareholder profit.
Thanks for reading this special report as Labor Day Weekend kicks off! Stay safe out there!