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Blue Lines, Shaded in Black and Brown: The Diallo Shooting, Race and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  5 the wild barrage as he ran prayer beads through his fingers. Boss had served on SCU for less than a year. After the shooting, Officer Sean Carroll, described his shock and grief when they discovered Diallo held a wallet and not a gun. “I held his hand and said, ‘Don’t die, keep breathing, don’t die.” At 36, Carroll was the oldest of the four officers and, at about two years, had the longest employment on the SCU. Each officer went beyond claiming justification, positioning himself as victim. They were certain they were about to die. They described their compassion and their trauma as they discovered their mistake. No one was present to testify for Diallo save the coroner, who reported that 41 shots had been fired, nineteen hitting the mark. Some entered Diallo’s body through the soles of his feet, indicating he was down, and probably dead, well before the bullets stopped flying. Innocent or Guilty: What’s at Stake? Other than criminal courts, there are few collective forums for dealing with tragedies like Diallo’s death. But processes of adjudication are narrowly focused on the question of the shooters’ innocence or guilt, questions that are entangled with issues of policy and procedure in the case of police officers. Testimony and judge’s instructions focused on whether a “reasonable person” would agree that their perceptions of Diallo as suspect and of Diallo as potentially lethal threat were in fact reasonable. It is common for police officers to cite the blue line and to protest to civilians,

Authors: Roy, Beth.
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the wild barrage as he ran prayer beads through his fingers. Boss had served 
on SCU for less than a year.
After the shooting, Officer Sean Carroll, described his shock and grief 
when they discovered Diallo held a wallet and not a gun. “I held his hand and 
said, ‘Don’t die, keep breathing, don’t die.” At 36, Carroll was the oldest of 
the four officers and, at about two years, had the longest employment on the 
SCU. 
Each officer went beyond claiming justification, positioning himself as 
victim. They were certain they were about to die. They described their 
compassion and their trauma as they discovered their mistake. 
No one was present to testify for Diallo save the coroner, who reported 
that 41 shots had been fired, nineteen hitting the mark. Some entered 
Diallo’s body through the soles of his feet, indicating he was down, and 
probably dead, well before the bullets stopped flying.
Innocent or Guilty: What’s at Stake?
Other than criminal courts, there are few collective forums for dealing 
with tragedies like Diallo’s death. But processes of adjudication are narrowly 
focused on the question of the shooters’ innocence or guilt, questions that 
are entangled with issues of policy and procedure in the case of police 
officers. Testimony and judge’s instructions focused on whether a 
“reasonable person” would agree that their perceptions of Diallo as suspect 
and of Diallo as potentially lethal threat were in fact reasonable. It is 
common for police officers to cite the blue line and to protest to civilians, 


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