The Killing of Dexter Reed Revives Anti-Cop Narratives

Chicago police are unduly blamed as violent crime surges.

What happened: Chicago police released footage of a traffic stop that led to the shooting death of a young black man, Dexter Reed. The 26-year-old was allegedly pulled over on suspicion of not wearing a seatbelt, but his encounter with five plainclothes officers devolved into a fatal shootout, prompting outrage.

  • Reactions: Reed’s family demanded charges against the officers, called for defunding the police, and claimed, “He was just riding around in his car … and they killed him.” Activists also clashed with officers outside of a police precinct.

  • Media framing: Many news articles emphasize that police “fired 96 shots” and wait several paragraphs before explaining Reed’s actions toward the officers.

Reed shot first: Footage shows officers surrounding Reed’s car and telling him to keep his window down and open the driver’s door. As he refuses to comply, officers draw their guns and continue making commands. Multiple video angles show Reed shooting first before the police returned fire.

  • Criminal background: Reed was scheduled to stand trial for felony gun charges and may have been breaking the law by carrying a gun in his car.

  • Previously injured: Court records reveal Reed was in mental and physical recovery from a 2021 shooting injury.

Why it matters: The false narrative surrounding the case is fueling anti-police sentiment in Chicago, which often leads to detrimental policy change. This comes as law enforcement grapples with the city’s extremely high rates of violent crime, a problem that disproportionately harms black residents.

  • The violent reality: Black Chicagoans comprise most gun violence victims and as many as 77 percent of homicide victims.

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