Police search for the gun allegedly used by Demetrius Blackwell to shoot plainclothes NYPD cop Brian Moore Saturday in Queens.
Maritza Ramos, whose late husband was a cop and one of the good guys, was in Mexico on Sunday morning when she was told over her cell phone that another cop had been shot in New York City.
“Oh, my God, not again,” she said.
Then she said, “Was it like my husband?”
She was told it wasn’t exactly like what happened to Detective Rafael Ramos, shot dead on the Saturday afternoon before Christmas while he sat in his patrol car with his partner, Detective Wenjian Liu, even if Officer Brian Moore, in plainclothes Saturday night, never really had a chance against a career punk criminal named Demetrius Blackwell. But it was close enough to what happened Dec. 20, the day Maritza Ramos got the same call from the NYPD that the family of Brian Moore got on Saturday night.
All of that day last December, before everything changed forever in her life and the life of her family, she had been texting her husband, the two of them excited because they were scheduled to go Christmas shopping later. She had been using her cell phone that way, like a schoolgirl. The call about what had happened in Bedford-Stuyvesant came later.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the guy who murdered her husband and Liu, had come up from Baltimore on a bus, bringing guns and an insane plan to use them on New York City cops. So the end to the lives of two city cops began in Baltimore that day, before Brinsley finally took himself out.
Last week, of course, there was a different kind of trouble in Baltimore, trouble that beganwhen Freddie Gray somehow suffered the spinal injury that killed him in the back of a police van.
But this is how terrible and complicated it has become in this country: On Friday, when the state’s attorney in Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, announced she was charging six Baltimore cops in Freddie Gray’s death, Mosbywas the one cheered as a hero,and credited for helping restore calm to that city.
But not all cops are those cops. Not everyone the police come after ends up a victim the way Freddie Gray did. Sometimes the person to whom cops want to talk is Demetrius Blackwell, 35. Moore and his partner saw him adjusting an object in his waistband, and pulled up behind him. In that moment, Blackwell turned and fired off two rounds into Moore’s car and in that moment we had another cop shot and down in New York City.
Five cops shot here in the past five months alone. Only when they are shot and sometimes killed, there is no rush of outraged people out into the streets these cops protect. We just honor them and mourn them if necessary and move on.
What happened in Queens Village on Saturday night was the opposite of what happened in West Baltimore to Freddie Gray, the opposite of the tragedy that we got before Christmas at Tompkins and Myrtle Aves. in Bedford-Stuyvesant with Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, as bad an execution of cops as the city has known. It was the opposite of Ferguson, Mo., and the opposite of what happened in Cleveland when a 12-year-old boy was shot by a cop who saw him reaching for an air pistol last November. And it was the other side of what happened to Akai Gurley in a dark stairway at the Pink Houses in Brooklyn when a kid cop accidentally discharged his weapon not knowing what was on the other side of a door in the night.
Sometimes it is a cop trying to keep a corner of his city safe who is on the wrong side of a gun, taking a bullet to the face the way Brian Moore did. So sometimes Freddie Gray is Demetrius Blackwell, arrested nine times before Saturday night, for attempted murder and other charges, but back on the street in Queens Village.
So this time it is Blackwell accused of shooting a 25-year-old cop from Massapequa, L.I., with everything ahead of him. But somehow, in the current climate about cops in this country, the only outrage about this came from Moore’s fellow cops. Somehow what happened on Saturday night, one more bad guy with a gun, one more shot cop and nearly two, isn’t ever viewed with enough outrage by the public, but just as the cost of doing business.
None of this means six cops in Baltimore shouldn’t be indicted to the sky if Marilyn Mosby can make her case.
But not all cops are those cops. Sometimes Freddie Gray is Demetrius Blackwell, with a gun on him. In New York City on Saturday night, the war zone wasn’t the back of a police van. It was 212th St. and 104th Road, Queens Village.
“God help us,” Maritza Ramos said to a friend from Mexico, before flying home to a city where another cop had been shot.
God help us all. We don’t burn cities in Brian Moore’s name. We just light candles.