Michael Tabman

Jovan Belcher Murder-Suicide ~ Why Crennel, Costas and Cops Were Right

In Crime and Security on December 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

As if the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide was not sad and tragic enough, we have to find fault with someone other than the perpetrator.  First, we lambasted the NFL and Kansas City Chiefs executives for allowing the game to go on.  “It’s all about the money,” everyone screamed.  The NFL has experienced disruptions, lockouts and strikes, and has always survived and thrived.  One game would have neither doomed, nor even dented, the sustainability of the NFL.

The Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioloi, Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Coach Gary Gibbs were unable to talk Belcher out of killing himself and witnessed the suicide.  Yet, they chose to play on.  When asked about this decision which seemed to shock the public conscience, Crennel answered, “As far as playing the game, I felt that was the best thing for us to do because that’s what we do … After talking with the captains, they also felt like it was best that we played, if for no other reason, it takes our mind off our misery for a few hours.”  For what they had just experienced, I admire that decision; it was one of strength, resolve and selflessness.  To be able to move forward was admirable, not a sign of coldness or greed.  The Chiefs were able to rally in their grief and bring their fans a win.

Shortly afterwards, Bob Costas was widely criticized  for appearing on television and quoting from an article written by Jason Whitlock, “What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”   Whitlock and Costas were right, despite Costas’ subsequent clarifications.  Costas was not arguing for the repeal of the second amendment.  He pointed out what may be considered an inconvenient truth.  If Belcher did not have a weapon, we can never be sure of what may have happened, but we can conclude that there is a greater chance that Perkins would be alive.  Guns are efficient killing machines.  If Belcher did not have immediate access to a gun, he may have responded with less lethal means.  Or, he may have sought a gun.  Every moment he spent attempting to get a gun was one more moment that anything may have intervened and averted this tragedy.  In previous blogs, I have argued that logical and sensible gun control can respect the second amendment and be responsive to reality and public safety.

The other assault on Costas was on the timing of his remarks.  Why would he make such a political statement so soon after this horrific murder-suicide?  That is exactly when these issues should be addressed – when our interests are piqued and we are listening.  No matter how sad, violent and high-profile a murderous event is, we soon forget it and focus on the next news-worthy shooting.  We need only look at recent history to know that is true.

And finally, when the media learned of the encounter the Kansas City police had with Belcher hours before he went on his rampage, questions arose as to whether the police “gave him a break” thus leading to the murder-suicide.  The police released the dash-cam recording of this exchange.  I reviewed the tape and discussed the police response with Kansas City FOX4 News.  My opinion is clear – the police handled this call appropriately and there was nothing to indicate that Belcher posed an immediate danger.  However, just by raising the question, these police officers will needlessly beat themselves up wondering what they should have done differently.  I was a patrol officer – I have been in their shoes.  They did nothing wrong.

We have an innate need to explain the inexplicable, to rationalize the irrational.  The brutal murder of an innocent young girl by a suicidal young man fits those words.  The only way to learn from these sad events is to be honest with ourselves and be willing to sacrifice some of our self-interests in the name of the common good for our great country.

  1. The second amendment was made at a time of such lawlessness that self protection was a necessity, surely that time has long passed, given the ever growing numbers of tragedies at the hands of these weapons that the average Joe should not require to possess.

    • While I do not want to veer too far from the basic tenets of our Constitution, our founding fathers had the foresight to allow for amendments. As you point out – times change. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts,

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