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Blue Lines, Shaded in Black and Brown: The Diallo Shooting, Race and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  7 out, “He's got a gun!” – was it reasonable for him to believe that the black wallet in [Diallo’s] hand was suggestive of a gun and that they misread the scene? Like a play within the drama he was describing, John jumped up from his desk chair and as he spoke repeated for me the courtroom performance he believed most swayed the jury. He took several steps toward the window. “And when he went to the door and then turned” – crouching and holding his wallet close to his side, he turned suddenly, startlingly toward me – “that turn, you know, was the devastating thing for him and those officers, because that turn with the black object in the hand they mistook to be a gun and they fired. Okay? And as I said in the case, bam bam bam bam, it's over. Okay?” To be sure, it was John Patten’s job to defend his client eloquently and effectively. But in arguing that Sean Carroll’s confusion of a wallet for a gun was believable and unavoidable, by mimicking a gesture he had not himself seen, John introduced into the courtroom a portrayal of Diallo that contrasted dramatically with the wholesomeness and emotional frailty expressed by the officers. Their misunderstanding became understandable; something “suggestive” became a reality in the minds and trigger fingers of the policemen. Diallo’s “devastation”, in John Patten’s account, was not the victim’s alone; it was shared by the officers. From policing to policy The drama of the killing, the theatrics of the courtroom reconstruction, the picture of confrontation and remorse and tragedy, so outshine the

Authors: Roy, Beth.
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7
out, “He's got a gun!” – was it reasonable for him to believe that the 
black wallet in [Diallo’s] hand was suggestive of a gun and that they 
misread the scene? 
Like a play within the drama he was describing, John jumped up from his 
desk chair and as he spoke repeated for me the courtroom performance he 
believed most swayed the jury. He took several steps toward the window. 
“And when he went to the door and then turned” – crouching and holding his 
wallet close to his side, he turned suddenly, startlingly toward me – “that 
turn, you know, was the devastating thing for him and those officers, 
because that turn with the black object in the hand they mistook to be a gun 
and they fired. Okay? And as I said in the case, bam bam bam bam, it's over. 
Okay?”
To be sure, it was John Patten’s job to defend his client eloquently and 
effectively. But in arguing that Sean Carroll’s confusion of a wallet for a gun 
was believable and unavoidable, by mimicking a gesture he had not himself 
seen, John introduced into the courtroom a portrayal of Diallo that contrasted 
dramatically with the wholesomeness and emotional frailty expressed by the 
officers. Their misunderstanding became understandable; something 
“suggestive” became a reality in the minds and trigger fingers of the 
policemen. Diallo’s “devastation”, in John Patten’s account, was not the 
victim’s alone; it was shared by the officers.
From policing to policy
The drama of the killing, the theatrics of the courtroom reconstruction, 
the picture of confrontation and remorse and tragedy, so outshine the 


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