Two African-American men, Philandro Castile and Alton Sterling, are well known because the nation saw their deaths at the hands of police on a video. Yet the same week they died, another black man, Delrawn Small, died from police gunshots, and he barely made the local news in New York City. William Drummond, who teaches journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, says, “The ones that editors and reporters immediately react to are the cases in which somebody gets harmed or shot or killed who did not deserve it,” reports NPR.
Law Prof. Jody David Armour of the University of Southern California says that African-Americans who were hurt by police better be above reproach to get fair treatment in the media. “If you are morally immaculate, if you’re Dudley damn Do-Right, then I will give you the benefit of the doubt,” he says. In the case of Delrawn Small, who was shot dead in New York after an apparent road rage confrontation in July. Small’s killer was an off-duty policeman in plain clothes and an unmarked car. Small had prior convictions and had been drinking before he was killed. Drummond says that does not justify Small’s death, but “You can’t put that in a headline. There are too many howevers when you have to qualify something.”