It’s been all over the news.

Another person was shot and killed by a Greensboro police officer on June 22. The victim’s name was Graham Thomas Roberson.

When the shooting initially happened, the police department put out a press release announcing that a death had occurred. There wasn’t a lot of information in that release and much of the narrative sounded familiar.

According to the department, a police officer, who has yet to be named, was driving around Tuscaloosa Street around midnight on June 22 looking for a suspicious vehicle. That’s when the officer noticed Roberson, a 51-year-old white man, walking on the street. The officer approached him.

“As the officer approached, the subject displayed a firearm. The officer fired their weapon from inside their police vehicle, striking the subject.”

That’s what was in the initial release.

No mention of Roberson pointing the gun at the officer. No mention of Roberson being aggressive with the officer. Nothing to explain why Roberson was shot dead on sight.

(In North Carolina, open carry is permissible without a permit if you legally own a firearm.)

Here’s an interesting detail.

In the aftermath, the N&R reported that “Roberson did not fire at the officer.” But that wasn’t explicitly stated in the police department’s press release. So when TCB reached out to Josie Cambareri, the department’s spokesperson for more details, Cambareri explained that the daily “asked [her] to clarify that the word display within the release did not mean fire. And [she] confirmed, yes, that the word display does not mean fire.”

So, why not just say so plainly in the initial release?

Now, we at TCB know that it’s dubious to take a law enforcement agency — especially this police department — at their word. This is the same entity that said that Marcus Smith became combative and then collapsed and died when in fact he died from being hogtied. This is the same department that said an officer shot Nasanto Crenshaw because he was driving “toward where Corporal Sletten [was] standing.”

But too often, the narratives put out by the police don’t bear out when compared to the facts revealed later. According to Josie Cambareri, the department’s spokesperson, the police department plans to petition the courts to release all video recordings of the incident.

And so, we must wait.

Rather than blindly taking the police department at its word, we owe it to Roberson, whose family described him as “a natural DJ” who more than anything, “loved time with his family and friends,” to see for ourselves what actually happened. 

Because as we know by now, what they tell us and what is true, is hardly ever the same.

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