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Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

Enough of blaming the police for the problems of Black America and further politicizing our law enforcement agencies! The media needs to take a harder tact with community leaders as well.

There’s probably some risk of being called insensitive, racist, or worse in broaching this subject in a column but, hey, as the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran used to say, “The truth will out.”

The shooting death of 13-year-old South Los Angeles car thief Devin Brown was a tragedy, not because LAPD Officer Steve Garcia shot him, but because the incident is a symptom of many much larger problems. The media has as much of a responsibility to ask the hard questions of the community as it does of the police about what happened and why.

One problem is that too many so-called leaders in the African-American community seem to always label the policed guilty of murdering little Devin before they:
1) have all the facts in hand;
2) admit that their so-called leadership is exacerbating problems in poor communities;
3) seek answers on what the hell a 13-year-old was doing eluding police in a stolen car at
4 o’clock in the morning;
4) take corrective action to make sure parents like Devin’s show more responsibility and supervision over their kids so we don’t have any more deaths like this one; and
5) gain a true appreciation of the constant threats of death police face every single day.

There are other problems associated with this tragedy and they also have very serious consequences for our society that not too many people have been willing to openly discuss, including the media, but I will.

First of all, let’s not forget that Officer Garcia and his partner, Dana Grant, are veteran officers who will have to live with the shooting death not just for the rest of their careers, but for the rest of their lives. The split second decisions they made will live forever in their psyche. But the so-called leaders and many of the media who were so quick to point a finger of blame at Officer Garcia fail to note that two weeks ago, Garcia was praised for his work because he helped apprehend the man who allegedly caused the deadly train wreck in Glendale that killed 11 innocent commuters. Today, he unfortunately is at the center of the storm that has developed over Devin’s death.

Is Garcia the cold-blooded killer some Black activists allege? "Nobody wanted this to happen, on both sides," Garcia told a reporter. "I will say that. It's the last thing in the world that I wanted to happen."
That response did not get wide-spread reporting coverage. Why not?

The other problem this shooting has spawned is the crass political response by L.A. Mayor James Hahn who followed Devin’s coffin and his mother into the church service as if he was the official L.A. City honor guard. What a jerk!

Hahn, fighting for his political life and re-election, has no scruples and no shame when it comes to taking advantage of this tragedy for political gain. He forced his police commissioners to hurriedly pass a controversial change in policy about when police can fire at a moving car when they are in fear of their lives or that of innocent civilians.

Hahn brags in his political commercials about bringing former NYPD Chief Bill Bratton to L.A., but the old New Yorker can’t help trying to get media attention, even if it means he has to be outrageous as he was in the aftermath of the Devin Brown shooting. He told reporters and anyone else within ear range that "At each (shooting) incident we risk this city going up in flames once again," Bratton said, "which has happened twice in recent history (Watts in 1965 and the Rodney King beating trial aftermath in 1992)." Why is a Chief of Police pathetically promoting such a self-fulfilling prophecy?

With that 1-2-punch of Jimmy the Shameless Charlatan and Bratton the Blabber Mouth, it’s no wonder the facts inconveniently get in the way of what activist and political loudmouths want to try and get us to believe in the Devin Brown case and anything else which they find convenient to distort.

In my many years as a reporter, commentator, talk show host, and LAPD critic and volunteer, I have spent thousands of hours in police cars all over L.A., from the Harbor to the Valley, and from South L.A. to east L.A. It makes me wonder why reporters today aren’t challenging some of the disgusting claims being made by activists against the police when reporters, from experience, know better.

If reporters are willing to ask the hard questions of police and elected officials about campaign pledges and contributions, and go after business leaders on questionable business decisions, then they should use the same standard when talking with so-called community leaders who have the ear of the poorer masses in the streets of L.A. when it comes to issues affecting the community at large like this shooting.

The Monday morning quarterbacks in the Devin Brown shooting claim Officer Garcia “should have known” it was a 13-year-old driving the car even though the officers didn’t find out until AFTER the shooting. They also say Garcia should have waited to fire on Brown until he saw a weapon as Brown was driving his stolen car towards the officers.

But what these screeching street critics don’t understand is that officers have been shot and stabbed by thugs, gang-bangers, as well as seemingly innocent kids AND senior citizens and everyone in-between. Officers don’t really know if the creep driving toward them after failing to obey previous orders to stop is just angling to get closer to kill a cop. Police officers have been ambushed in various parts of the city over the years, but especially in high crime areas like South L.A.

Let me give you just one example of a case that closely parallels the circumstances of the Devin Brown case in many ways, but unfortunately, the occupants of the car being chased in the parallel case DID have weapons and a police officer WAS killed. And that officer’s life was a hell of a lot more valuable than some punk car thief.

Read this and weep for a fallen officer and hero.

On the night of Sept. 3, 1988, 77th Division officers Dan Pratt and Veronica Delao, driving an undercover car, were staked out at the Pine Liquor Store in South Central Los Angeles in Rolling 60s Crip neighborhood when they heard what they thought were two shotgun blasts. They then heard rapid gunfire and within five seconds saw a car's headlights. This was a car that had been involved minutes before in a gang drive-by shooting which left three people wounded. They radioed their supervisor for permission to follow the car and the chase began.

The chase ended up at Florence and Crenshaw streets, at the Chevron gas station and adjacent car wash on the north-east corner, where the two officers parked their patrol car for cover. As Officer Pratt called for back up, and requested a police helicopter, the two suspects in the car made an abrupt u-turn, coming back at the two officers. Officer Pratt saw this, and as bullets from the suspects' AR-15 assault weapon started to hit the car, he returned fire. As he fired the last round from his 9-mm service revolver, he took a fatal round, dying instantly. He was just 30 years old.

Dan Pratt was survived by his pregnant wife, Andria; a daughter, Amanda; sons, Danny Jr. and Nicholas; and unborn daughter, Heather, who was born on Feb. 7, 1989, five months after her Dad was murdered following the car chase that turned deadly. Also surviving him were his parents, Joyce and Roy Pratt Sr., four brothers, three sisters, and a host of other loved ones and fellow police officers.

And while Devin Brown left behind a mother and sister, and others who loved him, the lesson here is clear. African American leaders throughout Los Angeles must make sure they and their community take responsibility for keeping kids like Devin at home in the wee hours of the night. They must stop blaming the rest of the world for the ills they have failed to eradicate. Yes, once there was slavery and yes, there is poverty in many communities, and yes, discrimination still rears its ugly head too often in our society.

But virtually ALL segments of our society face seemingly insurmountable problems today. Blacks don’t have a monopoly on the pains of social ills. Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans deal with poverty, discrimination and violence every day. It’s not just a Black problem. Women still commonly face discrimination and are routinely paid less than men.

While some Jews survived the Holocaust, they still face discrimination all over the world. And am I the only one who finds it rather ironic that some Black leaders, like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose minions served as pall bearers at Devin Brown’s funeral, call Jews “the Devil” and claim the Holocaust never occurred? Are we expected as a society to accept one repressed group openly trying to repress another? I don’t think so.

Which brings us, finally, to the disgusting response from some community folk who apparently, in the vernacular of the streets, “don’t know no better.” They saw the shooting of Devin Brown from a perspective that raises serious questions about whether we can EVER put aside prejudice and come together as a truly peaceful and productive society. And reporters who accepted these quotes should have challenged not only the lack of accuracy of some of these comments, but they should have probed further into what these comments do in further polarizing an already divided L.A. community.

Some samples:

Rev. Andrew Robinson-Gaither of Faith United Methodist Church is quoted as saying, “Devin Brown's life was stolen by the police without a moment's hesitation. It was almost commonplace, routine: chase, stop, shoot. Another senseless killing by the police. They just like to take out young people's lives. They don't value us."

How about Congresswoman Maxine Waters who seemingly is always in search of the deepest hole she can dig: “When I learned about the killing of 13-year-old Devin Brown, an African American boy, on a street corner in South Central Los Angeles, quite frankly, my reaction was, “Once again, the police in our community act as judge, jury and executioner.”

Beverly Newton, an African American from Windsor Hills, called the fatal police shooting of Devin “a travesty. That kid shouldn't have been out at 4 in the morning," Newton admitted, but she quickly added, “…if a white teenager was out joyriding at any time of night, he would have just been ticketed."

Really? Don’t let facts get in the way of your myopic and racist view of life, my dear. Why don’t you ask the family of Nicholas Killinger, a White Man in the last high-profile incident in which an LAPD officer shot and killed him outside Santa Monica High School nearly a year ago when he backed his car toward officers at the end of a televised 90-minute pursuit. Was his skin color an issue? No!! Why didn’t reporters remind these people of the Killinger shooting when they claimed police only shoot at cars containing Black kids? Let’s be thorough in our reporting.

Those of us who have been around law enforcement a while cringed as that shooting developed. It looked wrong from the very beginning to us, but we were not facing that car as it backed up towards the officers. LAPD called it “out of policy” the day after Devin died, but bad stuff DOES happen with police officers. It’s just a matter of time, or percentages, that some shootings are clearly clean, some are a little muddy, and others stink to high heaven.

But the total ignorance of facts, and worse, the creation of pure fabrications by ignorant or self-serving activists about what happened, is still a big problem for all of us here in L.A. And reporters should NOT let people get away with making up stories and distorting the facts.

Being blind to the reality of kids gone bad in our own back yards is, in my humble opinion, as infinitely harmful and destructive as the knee-jerk reactionary assaults on our police by activists, and the knee-jerk political whoring of tragedies like this shooting by politicians.

It’s sad to say that it looks like we still haven’t learned to work together as a community in the 17 years since LAPD Officer Dan Pratt was killed after a car chase a mere two miles from where Devin Brown was shot. Not much has changed in L.A. in terms of gang crime and drive-bys, car pursuits are still a regular staple for TV, and police officers face more danger than ever before.

Maybe the Devin Brown case will finally teach us to focus on doing a better job of policing our kids so our police officers can focus on policing our communities. And let’s pray that we are able to keep more heroes like Dan Pratt alive and Steve Garcia on the streets as the thin blue line that protects our freedom and from the chaos of crime. And let’s make sure reporters ask everybody involved the same hard questions.