Speaking out after the killing of Memphis police officer Sean Bolton, 33, who was fatally shot during a routine traffic stop Saturday, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong criticized the overarching racial theme of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“There is a theme that Black lives matter,” said Armstrong during a press conference. “At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, do all lives matter? Regardless of race, creed, color, economic status, what profession that person holds. All lives matter … and this is just a reminder of how dangerous this job is.”
Armstrong said his department was in “mourning” and that it was a “difficult time” for all the officers.
“Sadly to say, we’ve been here before,” said Armstrong, “…it doesn’t get any easier.”
Mayor A.C. Wharton took the opportunity to amplify the dangers of being in law enforcement.
“Once again, we won’t make any political statements here, but this again is evidence that there are so many guns on our streets in the wrong hands,” Wharton said. “Men and women in blue have rules of engagement they have to follow, but at any given minute in a 24 hour day they are dealing with people who have no rules of engagement.”
During a 2015 Salute to Fatherhood Awards dinner, Armstrong spoke about the importance of recognizing the humanity of Black people, saying that Black lives should matter not just when we’re protesting injustice or being used for political exploitation. He then shared a story about his own experience with police brutality.
“When I was a child I saw a police officer kill a good friend of mine’s father, an image I’ll never get out of my mind,” said Armstrong. “Once I got into law enforcement, I vowed that would never be me, nor would that ever be the image of any police department I was responsible for.”
According to USA Today, this makes the third Memphis police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 2011.
According to The Guardian, at least three Black men — including unarmed Darrius Stewart, 19– have been killed by Memphis Police Department this year.