Something as seemingly simple as two basic facts still must be investigated thoroughly so that no dispute exists as to the circumstances of Garay’s death.
Perhaps he rolled over on the loaded gun and it misfired. Maybe he shot himself. Maybe somebody else shot hm.
All hypotheticals, each scenario, must be investigated in depth.
This is a matter of life and death.
What is not hypothetical is the stark accusation that police executed Garay, as told by his sister, Veronica, who called “Corbett” last week to make her shocking claims.
Veronica said her brother was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and that he was, indeed, armed the night of his death.
So police were immediately out of line when they say they noticed him with a gun in his waistband and “grabbed” him, according to published reports and attributed to police.
In our Northeastern Pennsylvania gun culture where far too many people are walking around carrying loaded firearms thanks to lax concealed weapons permit policy, would police have grabbed anybody else? Would police have grabbed a white Chamber of Commerce member, a soccer mom or even a militia man with an open carry sidearm walking around in public like he’s living in the old wild West?
I doubt it.
Police can and should usually approach a man or woman with a gun without pulling one. To the best of my knowledge that is standard operating procedure in a gun culture where those who carry guns legitimately argue that they are mostly law-abiding citizens there to help when times turn violent and bullets fly.
Veronica said that she possesses a surveillance video – a video she gave to friends for safe keeping because she fears retribution - that shows her brother walking into her mother’s house alone. The video, she said, then shows an officer coming through the gate and walking into her mother’s house without announcing that police were on the scene or asking permission to enter.
Veronica said her mother witnessed her son’s killing as police fired a second bullet into his head as he lay dying in his mother’s arms. Garay’s mother suffered a heart attack last week in the aftermath of the madness, Veronica said.
District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis has told the press that she expects to have the results of the police investigation into the fatal shooting by Friday.
I wonder if that’s not too soon.
Tension grips Hazleton in the wake of Garay’s death in a city already much too tightly wrapped because of the well-deserved reputation city officials have as being less than sensitive to its significant and increasing Latino population.
Garay was of Puerto Rican heritage.
I don’t know the police officer’s race but in Hazleton it’s fair to say that he is not Latino, African-American or Asian. The cop is likely of Western European heritage – a white cop in a white town that resists change – sometimes to the death.
Latinos in Hazleton already get the brunt of unfair criticism for an increasing crime rate. People tend to forget when La Costra Nostra organized crime ruled the city and other Western European ethnic groups contributed to drunk and disorderly violence, including murder.
People should always remember that a 16-year-old boy died not that many decades ago in a Hazleton car bombing when he was mistaken for a mobster.
But a police shooting is always different. People who already do not trust police deserve to be reassured that police are on their side, that the search for justice is part of the community conscience and that cover-ups, bribes, kickbacks, unconstitutional public policy and overt threats and intimidation of good people is a thing of the past.
A public meeting might help. The good people of Hazleton need to speak up about their fears and concerns.
Veronica said that her brother did not have a police record. And, if he did possess a government issued concealed weapons permit, that fact alone should attest to his clean record.
Jonathon Garay, according to those who knew him, was the kind of person who would have attended a public meeting to address a growing crime rate and violence in his city and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those who want peace. But he won’t be at the meeting if one is held.