Washington DC’s police chief has lambasted the US justice system and the media after another shooting incident, saying the press turns a blind eye as US local courts have failed to keep violent criminals off the streets.
Metropolitan Police chief Robert Contee decried the “unacceptable” wave of violence gripping some of the city’s neighborhoods, arguing that a dysfunctional court system is allowing dangerous offenders to run free.
He was speaking after another daytime shooting in an upscale DC district last week.
Two men were injured in the attack on Thursday as over 10 gunshots rang out on a high-end street. The suspected shooter and one accomplice fled the scene and remain at large.
DC’s police chief said the Thursday’s shooting only garnered media attention due to its location near a famous restaurant, suggesting the press often ignores violence in other neighborhoods.
Contee pointed to the 922 shootings and 198 homicides recorded in DC in 2020, a 16-year high, saying such violence “should be shocking to the conscience of every person in our city” and has “been happening for a long time.”
The nation’s capital has also recorded 105 homicides so far in 2021.
“We could take the political route and talk about all of this fluffy stuff, but I’m going to give it to you straight, where the issues are,” he said.
"The justice system we have right now – it’s not functioning the way that it should. The courts are not open. That is a fact," the police chief stressed.
US media said at least 430 people died in at least 915 shootings across the United States in a span of a week between July 17 and July 23.
The stunning numbers are indicative of the surge in gun violence across the United States.
Contee also said a large backlog of cases involving violent criminals from 2020 had “not been disposed of” due to delays caused by COVID-19, asking, “Where do you think those individuals are? Anybody want to take a guess? They’re in the community.”
Washington DC’s police chief took the US justice system to task, saying that, “Why is it that a guy who murdered somebody is out in the community after having been arrested two or three months prior with a firearm? What did we think he was going to do?”
“We want to help people, yes we should, but you cannot coddle violent criminals.”
The incidents of mass shootings have seen an alarming surge in the US in recent years, reigniting the debate over gun control laws and misuse of lethal weapons.
In the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the US, accounting for about 54 lives lost per day, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
This year, the number of casualties, along with the overall number of shootings that have killed or injured at least one person, exceeds those of the first five months of 2020, which finished as the deadliest year of gun violence in at least two decades, according to Washington Post data.