Living in Baltimore City and commuting to D.C. for school I am no stranger to news reports detailing officer involved shootings. Despite my favorite crime shows' influence I do not suspect these incidents as evidence of a rookie with a hair trigger, a bad cop killing a witness or snitch or commentary about contemporary race relations in our country. Often I see or hear these reports and assume it was either justifiable and done in the pursuit of a criminal or the occasional case of mistaken weaponry.

Mistaken weaponry, you wonder? These are those dreaded incidents that most often happen on dark nights in the wee hours. Those moments when a police officer has pulled someone over for speeding, spotted someone running from a store or is chasing someone who has just roughed up an old lady and has to discharge their weapon in self defense. Only it wasn't a gun or a knife the perp was brandishing or reaching for, it was their wallet. It was their cell phone. It was a million things that could never have caused injury or death to the officer or anyone else.

When I hear about these cases of mistaken weaponry I shake my head at the tragedy that I assume is justified and turn my mind to other things. School, home, anything but the details of yet another shooting in the city. I do this not because I don't care, but as a form of self preservation. If I dwelt on every shooting in the news I would find myself afraid at night when I hear shots being fired in the neighborhood surrounding my home. I would spend too much time searching the shadows of my street when I drive home late at night. I would live in fear.

A little over a year ago I heard something on the radio that made me want to think about shootings in a different way; it was an interview between NPR's Michele Norris and author Marita Golden. Golden was talking about her new book, After.

After is the story of a shooting involving a young 20-something man, a D.C. cop named Carson Blake just minutes from the end of his shift, a dark night and a cell phone. Both the cop and the young man are black and both made mistakes on that dark night, but only one walked away.

Marita Golden said she was inspired to write the story after seeing another D.C. shooting in the news. It reminded her of an incident involving her own son, whom she had taught to do whatever he was told if pulled over by a cop, and who ended up the victim of excessive force. Her feelings over what happened to her son and her general mistrust of cops led to her story of Carson Blake and the 20-something young man. It was supposed to be about the aftermath of the shooting, how the family of the victim would hold up or fall apart in the wake of the loss of their son. Instead she found herself focusing on the cop, on his own inner turmoil and how the shooting would affect his family and forever change their lives.

What happens to a cop after he has discharged his weapon? What happens after he's killed someone because he feared for his life, only to find out the item the suspect was brandishing was a cell phone and not a gun? Marita Golden's story follows Carson as he deals with what he did, finds the courage to face his family and wonders if he is being punished for bad choices he's made throughout his life.

The book drags along, speeds up, fast-forwards and then ends abruptly. It is a unique look into an all too common occurrence, one that doesn't stop at the usual images of a tortured officer quieting his demons with a liquor bottle. A lifetime of experiences and choices are examined in a convincing story that can't help but make you think about the psychological effect of such an incident on a police officer. This is perhaps something that is needed these days, when it has become all too popular to refer to cops as pigs, assume they are assholes when they pull you over for speeding and in general disrespect the weight of the job they perform every day.

I find myself hoping they will make this into a movie and knowing they most likely won't. People don't want to pay for emotional roller coasters that don't involve sex or splodies. Then again, with the popularity of social commentary movies such as Crash you never know.


References:
After by Marita Goldman.
Interview with Marita Goldman. All Things Considered, NPR, July 2006.

Aft"er (#), a. [AS. aefter after, behind; akin to Goth. aftaro, aftra, backwards, Icel. aptr, Sw. and Dan. efter, OHG. aftar behind, Dutch and LG. achter, Gr. further off. The ending -ter is an old comparative suffix, in E. generally -ther (as in other), and after is a compar. of of, off. See Of; cf. Aft.]

1.

Next; later in time; subsequent; succeeding; as, an after period of life.

Marshall.

⇒ In this sense the word is sometimes needlessly combined with the following noun, by means of a hyphen, as, after-ages, after-act, after-days, after-life. For the most part the words are properly kept separate when after has this meaning.

2.

Hinder; nearer the rear.

Naut.

To ward the stern of the ship; -- applied to any object in the rear part of a vessel; as the after cabin, after hatchway.

It is often combined with its noun; as, after-bowlines, after-braces, after-sails, after-yards, those on the mainmasts and mizzenmasts.

After body Naut., the part of a ship abaft the dead flat, or middle part.

 

© Webster 1913.


Aft"er, prep.

1.

Behind in place; as, men in line one after another.

"Shut doors after you."

Shak.

2.

Below in rank; next to in order.

Shak.

Codrus after Phbus sings the best. Dryden.

3.

Later in time; subsequent; as, after supper, after three days. It often precedes a clause. Formerly that was interposed between it and the clause.

After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Matt. xxvi. 32.

4.

Subsequent to and in consequence of; as, after what you have said, I shall be careful.

5.

Subsequent to and notwithstanding; as, after all our advice, you took that course.

6.

Moving toward from behind; following, in search of; in pursuit of.

Ye shall not go after other gods. Deut. vi. 14.

After whom is the king of Israel come out? 1 Sam. xxiv. 14.

7.

Denoting the aim or object; concerning; in relation to; as, to look after workmen; to inquire after a friend; to thirst after righteousness.

8.

In imitation of; in conformity with; after the manner of; as, to make a thing after a model; a picture after Rubens; the boy takes after his father.

To name or call after, to name like and reference to.

Our eldest son was named George after his uncle. Goldsmith.

9.

According to; in accordance with; in conformity with the nature of; as, he acted after his kind.

He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes. Isa. xi. 3.

They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh. Rom. viii. 5.

10.

According to the direction and influence of; in proportion to; befitting.

[Archaic]

He takes greatness of kingdoms according to bulk and currency, and not after their intrinsic value. Bacon.

After all, when everything has been considered; upon the whole. -- After (with the same noun preceding and following), as, wave after wave, day after day, several or many (waves, etc.) successively. -- One after another, successively. -- To be after, to be in pursuit of in order to reach or get; as, he is after money.

 

© Webster 1913.


Aft"er, adv.

Subsequently in time or place; behind; afterward; as, he follows after.

It was about the space of three hours after. Acts. v. 7.

After is prefixed to many words, forming compounds, but retaining its usual signification. The prefix may be adverbial, prepositional, or adjectival; as in after- described, after-dinner, after-part. The hyphen is sometimes needlessly used to connect the adjective after with its noun. See Note under After, a., 1.

 

© Webster 1913.

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