Guess which one of the following scenarios actually ocurred:
1) A young gang member shoots at a rival under the mistaken impression that the rival was responsible for a previous shooting. Fortunately, the rival is unhurt and the shooter’s gang realizes their mistake. But rather than make amends, they return to finish the job, shooting the rival five times.
2) A man calls 911 with the simple complaint, “There’s a dead guy in the bushes.” Police arrive at his house and find a dead guy in the bushes. After a brief investigation, during which the caller states, “You can’t arrest me, I’m the one that called 911!” he is arrested on homicide charges.
3) A man asks his neighbors if he can borrow their trash can to hide a dead body.
If you’ve been reading the Trib lately, you already know that the third scenario is, according to police accounts, a true story. The latest update on the incident states that charges have been filed against Anthony T. Clark for the killing of sixteen-year-old Devondre Davis. The story grabs us because we simply can not believe someone would ask a neighbor if they could “put a dead body in their trash can”, according to the report (9/9).
If you are cynical by nature (like most cops) you probably already knew that. You may also have realized that the first two scenarios above are also true. It’s a fact of life that the game plan used by a small percentage of very foolish people often ends in violence.
These are criminals who would: “eliminate” their fingerprints using acid, thereby becoming THE most recognizable prints in the world; report their car stolen after crashing multiple times on a drunken swerve home (congratulations, you’re the one millionth drunk to try that!); use their drug dealer as an alibi to avoid being arrested for domestic assault, “You want proof? here’s the crack I bought!
In my experience, which includes the first two scenarios above, I have formulated three possible reasons for the lack of judgment following a violent crime. The first possibility is that the perpetrator truly was that dumb, or as Forrest Gump summed it up, “Stupid is as stupid does.” The second explanation is that the taking (or almost taking) of a human life is such a shocking experience that one’s central processor shuts down. The third is based on the cliche “You don’t respect me enough to even come up with a good lie.” Put another way, another person’s life has so little meaning that it’s not worth cooking up a plausible story.
I do not know if these reasons represent Clark’s frame of mind when he asked to borrow his neighbor’s garbage can to hide a body. In any case, this alleged incident was a stupid action following a tragic act.
And it happens way too often.