It's important to remember that, in police shooting cases like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, the initial facts are often wrong. You don't want to end up looking like Rich Lowry, National Review editor, whose March 23, 2012, column on the Trayvon Martin shooting was titled, "Al Sharpton Is Right."
Early accounts are especially unreliable when reporters think they have a white racism story. Stirring up racial hatred is how journalists make up for sending their own kids to lily-white private schools.
As detailed in my book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, the old media's standard for any police shooting of a black person is: "Racist until proved innocent." We got three-alarm racism stories for the shootings of Jose (Kiko) Garcia, Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Stewart and Edmund Perry.
And then it turned out Garcia was a drugged-up coke dealer who pulled a gun on the cop, Bumpurs was a psychotic who came at the cops with a machete, Stewart fought the cops so violently he gave himself a heart attack, and Perry mugged an undercover cop.
Witness statements aren't always 100 percent accurate. In Garcia's case, innumerable neighbors gave the media florid accounts of Officer Michael O'Keefe beating and kicking Garcia, before repeatedly shooting the unarmed man in the back as he lay facedown on the floor. The Garcia family lawyer assured The New York Times that "this kid never was arrested; he wasn't a drug dealer."
It later turned out that Garcia was a convicted felon.
He had a gun the night of the shooting.
The autopsy proved he was not shot in the back, nor was he beaten.
The only eyewitnesses against Officer O'Keefe were drug dealers -- for whom Garcia worked -- who could not possibly have seen anything from their vantage point, as confirmed with a laser pointer used by the Garcia family lawyer.
The New York Post: "COP KILLS HARLEM HONOR STUDENT"
The New York Times: "HONOR STUDENT, 17, IS KILLED BY POLICEMAN ON WEST SIDE."
The Los Angeles Times: "SAYS VICTIM ATTACKED HIM, MOTHER CHARGES RACISM: OFFICER KILLS TOP STUDENT, SETS OFF FUROR."