Not all of us respond in the same way to the issues that are happening at this time, and for different reasons.
Here is one man’s story.
by Brian Gavin
I’ve tried to not say anything for the longest time – really, I’ve tried not to post much of anything at all lately because anything substantial I share tends to get a bit stabby and feeling-hurty and most people don’t like that – but there’s one subject I’ve tried to stay away from entirely over the past few years: the mother fucking police.
Some of you are aware of what happened a little over 4 years ago, and a lot of you aren’t. And I’m not expecting most of you to really care, I’m just sharing this to get it off my chest. That’s what FaceBook is to me; it’s my little rant diary.
Here’s the facts: my dad was shot and killed by 3 police officers in his home on November 11, 2015. My mother and I were also present. I was in my bedroom, door closed, when it all went down, but it happened 5 feet from my door, so I got to hear it all.
The cops had already come to the house twice, called by my mom, because my dad was acting aggressively towards her. He had just found out his best friend from childhood died and he was trying to carry out his evening routine of drinking, watching tv, and then going to bed. My mother was also carrying out her evening routine of drinking and trying to get under the skin of everyone in reach, which is why I would usually go to my room and dissociate with video games, occasionally ranting on here about her, and, during my last year there, pop a xanax which I was prescribed for my anxiety.
Any of you ever live with someone that just wants to tear you down and make you feel like shit just because you’re there? That’s my mother. She was no doubt doing that to my dad on a night that was already very painful for him. To demonstrate his frustration at one point, he put his fist through a window. That prompted her to call the cops.
She called the cops many times on my dad over the years, and it was always the same formula: she would emotionally abuse him, scream at him, repeatedly wake him up when he was trying to sleep for work and he would finally snap, venting his frustration in a lot of ways, but never hitting her. He’d break things, hit his head against a wall, yell, whatever. But he never hit her, never threaten her. He talked about killing himself more over those last few years. He’d joke about it, “I’ve met a lot of people I’ve wanted to kill, but she’s the only one that’s ever made me want to kill myself.”
And we’d laugh until that day the laughing abruptly stopped.
Of course, the cops didn’t know any of this. They didn’t know my dad. The way my mom told it to them was that he was inches away from beating her, which, again, was never a thing that happened in the 27 (29?) years of their marriage.
I had my headphones on blast in my room with my door closed, so I didn’t even hear them come by the first time and wasn’t aware they were there the second time until I came out of my room for a snack. Three cops were in my house and the xanax had already kicked in. I looked at the first one and grinned, saying as if I knew him, “Oh hey, what’s up, man?”
Everything was chill. In the moment, I thought it was funny that my casual greeting-a-friend demeanor probably caught him off-guard. Officer L. was clearly frustrated by the situation and gave me a terse summary of what was going on. I stuck around until they left. They told my mom to stay in the living room and watch tv like she was doing and quit waking him up. They told him to go back to sleep. I watched them leave and, just as I was turning around to go back to my room, what did I see? My mother was walking back into their bedroom, where she had just told the police she would not go to disturb my dad while he tried to sleep. I shrugged. Her behavior was pathological. She had to hurt people. That’s another thing my dad would joke about, “To her, if something’s not wrong, something’s wrong.”
Anyway, I doubt 5 minutes passed before I heard him shooting. Again, I was in my room at this point. I moved to the floor and dialed 911 myself. My mom was screaming. I said one sentence to dispatch and then heard the front door bust open and the officers telling my dad to drop the gun. Seconds later, I heard several gun shots and more screaming from my mom. An officer told me to come out of my room. So I did, holding my hands up, saying, “I understand, I understand,” in case they were still jumpy and might be worried I wouldn’t take it well seeing my dad face-down in a puddle of blood.
I walked past him and out the door to meet my mother who they had already ushered outside. She was sobbing, talking about how they killed her husband and how he had a gun to his head. I thought that was interesting and wasn’t sure if I should believe her, knowing her like I did.
But then a news article came out later with the dashcam recordings, and one of the other officers was saying the same thing – he had a gun to his head. So why, I wondered, was their official story that he was pointing the gun at my mother?
Why did all the reports prior to that tell this official version of the story when one of the officers was recorded saying something different the moment after it happened? I believe he had the gun to his head. My mother said it, which in itself is not a reliable source. But a cop who was involved also said it. Why would he lie about that and try to make it sound worse for his position? I doubt he was lying. I knew my dad. He never tried to hurt her, but he would sometimes hurt himself in those situations. And while my desire to believe something is true isn’t a viable source, it doesn’t change what the officer said.
I understand that my situation is nuanced. My dad was an armed man who fired his gun, which we later found out was only directed at the ceiling and the phone which he knocked on the floor. My mother was within arm’s reach of him then. He could have easily shot her then if he wanted to. I understand the officers were scared and didn’t know him. And I even understand why they changed their story. I understand it, but I don’t accept it.
That night, I had to go to the sheriff’s office and talk to Officer Smith from SLED and write a essay about what happened because he felt like that was better to do than just take an audio recording. In a bullshit attempt to establish rapport with me, Officer Smith asked me what game I was playing on my computer when it all went down. I didn’t really want to talk about that seeing as how my dad was just killed by 3 guys wearing a similar outfit to his, but he asked again, saying he liked games.
Just to move things along, I answered his question and he said he played that game. Right. I really don’t believe you play Galactic Civilizations 3, Officer. Anyway, I found interesting what he told me after that.
Apparently, while my mother and I had to give our accounts of what happened immediately after the fact and in separate rooms, the officers involved were given time to cool off and “remember” what happened.
So, some time between that night and a few days later, their accounts of what happened had turned into them all unanimously agreeing that he was pointing the gun at her. And that’s the official report.
It wasn’t just to make those 3 men look better; it was to make their whole organization look better. There’s no right or wrong with them. It’s an us versus them mentality, but you guys know that. And that official report is what most of the news was saying happened. I’d read the reports online and the comments had people talking about how wife beaters like him deserve to die and whatever other self-righteous bs they could think to say. None of them actually knew what happened.
Four months later, this came out: Aiken Standard
And, that’s fairly accurate. But everyone had lost interest by then and my dad had already been shit all over after he’d been killed when in reality he was just a person suffering, not trying to hurt anyone. I consider it suicide by cop, and so did the neighbors that knew him. I believe if he was given a moment, he would have reconsidered.
We have the same name. You can’t Google “Brian Gavin Aiken Sc” without that being the whole first page of results. Same for Augusta or North Augusta.
And now every time I get on here, I see videos of cops fucking people up and think back to November 11, 2015 and that image of my dad that was seared into my brain.
I’ll deal with the emotions that make me feel–that’s my cross to bear–but some of you are lashing out at people for not spamming their pages with this stuff, talking about how they’re like the citizens of Nazi Germany (I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that one the past few days) and you’re just sitting there judging them and unfriending them or whatever, and I don’t think that’s right.
Life’s complicated, okay?
I’m glad so many of you are ready to jump in and start doing something about this good ole boys club, I promise you, I really am glad to see this, but just understand that some of us are dealing with issues differently than you are.
I think it’s horrible what’s happening to people, most of which are black people, at the hands of our police.
I just want 2 things: I don’t want to be condemned because people assume I’m apathetic towards the situation; and I want society’s collective attention span to focus on the problem long enough to create a change before the next Tiger King comes along to distract us from the things that matter.
© Brian Gavin
Image by: Sharon McCutcheon