There were days of planning. Repeatedly, he went by The Party Venue to rehearse his entrance and his exit. Careful planning was the only way to make sure that things didn’t go sloppy. The gun was easy to acquire. When the night finally came, he got all of his equipment and headed for his target. Throughout the night, he hunted Kevin Berry, Jr. He needed him to get in just the right place. When he stepped on the right spot, he opened fire. There was no way he was going to miss tonight. Blood went everywhere. Once he knew Berry was dead, he didn’t care about all the others. He accomplished exactly what he set out to. In the pandemonium, he slipped away. Though many people saw him, nobody really saw him. They knew better than to talk. His plan was working perfectly. Before long, his accomplice pinned the whole thing on a man named Brandon Gonzales. In a place like Hunt County, he knew that they were going to jump on the first person of color that they could find. Sheriff Randy Meeks had always been good for that. When he saw Gonzales on television, he knew that he had outsmarted them all. Nobody was coming for him. They already had their guy.
These words might offend your sensibilities. Honestly, that’s what they’re intended to do. Truth most often finds us in the midst of offense. While this is certainly not a detailed report of what happened, it is a very plausible scenario. To exist anywhere beyond plausibility at this point is to deny Brandon Gonzales a fundamental right that we are all entitled to in this country…the presumption of innocence.
Like many of you, I was horrified by the news of this shooting. The descriptions of the scene made me sick. I prayed for justice…and I prayed for justice fast. I knew that there was someone out there capable of killing again. I wondered what evil incarnate might look like. When I saw the shooting at Berry’s vigil in Dallas, I grew even more frightened. Fear can be a powerful motivator. Truthfully, I was ready to believe that anybody that Sheriff Meeks brought out was guilty. When I heard that there had been an arrest, I wanted to see what the monster looked like. When I saw Brandon Gonzales, I believed that he deserved everything that was coming to him. That is…until I didn’t.
Doubt might be a more powerful motivator than fear. You can’t seem to suppress it…it just gnaws at you. The more I watched Sheriff Meek’s press conference…the less I believed what he was saying. Quickly, it became apparent to me that this was a small town department leading the investigation of a big time crime. Nothing was deemed connected. Everything came across as so simple. Then it got worse. No gun. No motive. No surveillance cameras. No knowledge of whether or not he had been a local college student. No idea where he had been since the shooting. Sheriff Meeks made a joke about his reelection. To end the press conference, Sheriff Meeks declared his compassion for all people. By the end of the press conference, I began to wonder if he had any evidence at all. Then I got my hands on the arrest warrant. Shockingly, the entire case is currently based on one eyewitness. It seems that the Sheriff forgot one thing in his presentation…the truth.
Quite honestly, this is an odd place for me to be. I don’t know Brandon Gonzales. I don’t know Sheriff Meeks. Hell, I don’t know much about Hunt County. I just know what I have seen and heard over the past few days…and that was enough for me. In his press conference, Sheriff Meeks kept calling Gonzales “the shooter.” It is beyond clear that he doesn’t have the evidence to be using such a phrase. I think that it is also very clear that Sheriff Meeks has done exactly what I did at the beginning of this piece…create a plausible scenario. The only difference is that he called his truth and locked an innocent man up over it. God don’t like that shit…and nor should we.
So, rise your ass up…
and let’s set Brandon free.