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Weekend Read: Another black life cut short in police shooting

Last week, police shot and killed an African-American teen in a Dallas suburb, where he was leaving a party that he was concerned was becoming dangerous. Fifteen-year-old Jordan Edwards was a passenger in a car full of teens, including two of his brothers.

Police initially said an officer fired because the car was moving in reverse toward officers in an "aggressive manner." But by Monday morning, the story had changed. Police Chief Jonathan Haber announced that he had reviewed body-cam footage and determined that the car had been driving away from — not toward — police when an officer shot Edwards through a passenger window.

Haber's announcement that he "misspoke" is, as David A. Graham wrote for The Atlantic, "the blandest possible gloss on what appears to have happened: the police on the scene dissembled."

That's not without precedent.

In April 2015, Charleston police officer Michael Slager shot and killed Walter Scott, 50. Scott had been fleeing — not moving toward — the police officer who shot him. Afterward, the officer who killed Scott appeared to try to distort (or dissemble, as Graham might call it) the events leading up to Scott's shooting.

Despite the alarming series of police shootings of black men over the past several years, there remains a "deep racial divide" on the issue, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Two-thirds of white Americans see these deaths as "isolated incidents," while more than eight in 10 black Americans say they are part of a "broader pattern."

In a week such as this, the divide was apparent. 

On Tuesday, the same day that Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott's civil rights — part of a plea deal that would dismiss murder charges — news broke that the Justice Department would not charge the officer who shot and killed Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year.

SPLC President Richard Cohen described the Justice Department's decision as "deeply troubling."

"The American people need an answer as to why the final moments of Sterling's life looked less like a police stop and more like a public execution," he said.

As for Edwards' family, they honored his life at a funeral service Saturday in Dallas.

The officer who killed him has been fired. And Friday, news broke that the former officer had been charged with murder by the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

It's an encouraging sign that local authorities took action — because it's much more uncertain in the Trump era that the Justice Department will demand accountability in the wake of such tragedies.

The Editors.

SPLC’s Weekend Read is a weekly summary of the most important news reporting and commentary from around the country on civil rights, economic and racial inequality, and hate and extremism. Sign up to receive the Weekend Read every Saturday morning.