This "very minor arrest" in Cayce, S.C., on the night of November 17 that ended in the fatal shooting of a black suspect by two white officers raises a lot of questions, but they are as much about the law the police were enforcing as about the performance of the police themselves.
Then, as the suspect apparently realized that they would find the gun in his belt, he pulled it and fired off a round next to one officers, then got the other in the leg before he ran into an alley (off camera) where one of the officers shot at him, hitting him twice, and killed him.
In the controversial policy known to cops as "stop-question-and-frisk" and to its critics as "stop-and-frisk," the questioning is actually quite important, and you see here how it can play out.
The police have stopped to see what this guy is doing in this car in the middle of the night. He rolls down the window. It's obvious he's been smoking dope. They question him extensively, in the friendliest possible way, and they do not frisk him, which is why they don't know about the gun in his belt. (They have seen a knife on the floor of the car, but don't seem too concerned about that.)
In the course of questioning him about weapons he might have, they ask him to empty his pockets and, bingo, he turns out the dope he said he didn't have. Then, quite calmly, they ask him to put his hands behind his back to be cuffed, he tenses up and resists, breaks free, pulls his gun and fires.
Bryant reportedly had been charged in the past with drug possession and with unlawful carrying of a pistol—which, perhaps surprisingly, actually is illegal for some people in South Carolina, even though buying one requires no background check and no license of any kind. For a second misdemeanor marijuana offense, Bryant could have faced a $2,000 fine and a year in jail.
Maybe Bryant was thinking about going straight. He told the officers he had just gotten a job at Amazon, and was waiting for his paycheck to register his car. Maybe not. But he was smoking dope, which probably shouldn't be a matter for the police, and he was carrying a gun, which he had bought quite legally (there is no way buying one in S.C. is illegal) even if he was breaking the law by carrying it on his person.
Because of these two bad laws about possession, one criminalizing a minor vice, the other legalizing easy access to a killing tool, he's dead.