“We’re getting some serious backlash over the police officers gunned down last week,” Nan says. “They’re saying police officers need protection, too, and it might only come from knowing criminal histories.”
“Who is ‘they’?” Birch asks while flipping through documents.
“Media,” she says.
“Is there any evidence that a person with a nonviolent criminal history is more, less, or equally likely to harm a police officer?” I ask, shoving a donut in my mouth.
“I don’t think so,” Nan says slowly. “So the assumption stands in the lack of data.”
“Not necessarily,” I say.
“There’s no way to compile that kind of data in the time we have,” Birch says. “We need to try to back out of this angle. Talk the Senator into promising future legislation on the police overreach slash Black Lives Matter issue. It’s going to tank our bill if we try to shoehorn it.”
“Mrs. Lancaster,” I say, remembering I’m not supposed to know her, “kinda made it an issue in this legislation. If we don’t address it, the Senator will lose whatever momentum he has.”
“Welp,” Kevin says as he enters the room, “here it is: every byte on the Curtis Sloan of yesterday’s press conference.”
Nan and I practically attack him for scraps of information. He proceeds to hand us each a packet.
“Eleven years, four months, and three days before Curtis Sloan died, he completed all requirements of his plea deal for his second possession charge,” Kevin summarizes.
“Did he have any weapons charges, violent offenses, anything?” Nan asks.
“Not one,” Kevin says. “I think you’ve convinced me. Or, Curtis Sloan convinced me.”
“That the information may have had something to do with his death. I said may have,” he cautions.
“Okay, well, you’re a white man of a certain age. How can you convince others of your kind that this possibility exists?” Nan reminds me of a dog with a bone: laser-focused.
The two fell silent. I continued reading.
“What does the force say?” I ask.
“They aren’t done with the investigation,” Kevin says. “So far, they’ve said that the stop was for a burned out brake light and further details are not public at this time.”
“How does someone go from a busted light to…,” Nan trails away both in word and in thought. “We should watch the video.”
“Why? We’ve seen it a dozen times. There’s just not much to go on. Most of the time the camera merely watches the man’s arm and the audio is pretty standard. No audible threat. No fast movements.” Birch seems to fatigue even as he speaks.
“Load it,” I say. The video and audio play as I scrutinize. Something. There’s got to be something we can use to protect the Curtis Sloans of the world. “Do we know whether he was right or left handed?”
Kevin skims some materials. “He’s right handed.”
“He doesn’t move. Doesn’t even twitch.” Birch says. His tone moves from statement to wonder. “His right arm doesn’t move. The picture stays the same until the shot sounds!”
“So he probably didn’t make a threatening move,” Nan says.
“But the police officer wouldn’t have known if he was right or left handed. And some people write with one hand but use the other hand in sports or whatever. That doesn’t exactly prove anything.” My irritation moves me to rise and pace. “Besides, we can’t do a blessed thing about traffic stops where drivers may or may not move in a way perceived as threatening. But we might, we just might be able to do something about the information the officer has in the middle of the stop.”