‘Shots Fired’ creators want to ‘put a human face’ on the volatile issue of police shootings
— Reggie Rock Bythewood
“I think it would have been very easy for people to become desensitized if we had made it a black kid being shot by a white cop,” said Reggie.
Even though the topic of the tensions between law enforcement and minority communities is the main backdrop of “Shots Fired,” one of the main inspirations for the show was not directly related to police shootings.
Reggie recalled the moment in 2013 when he and his son, Cassius, who was 12 at the time, were watching live coverage of the verdict for George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the controversial shooting death of 17-year-old high school student Trayvon Martin.
“When the ‘not guilty’ verdict came in, we were both taken aback,” he said. “My son got very emotional, I told him to dry his eyes, then showed him a documentary about Emmett Till.” (Till was the 14-year-old black boy brutally slain in Mississippi in 1955 after being falsely accused of flirting with a white woman. His killers were acquitted).
He added, “I told him how the justice system works. It was the first time I talked to my 12-year-old as a man.”
Having the luxury of exploring the issue in a limited series rather than a two-hour film also afforded the Bythewoods the opportunity to look at the provocative issue from several perspectives — one of the storytelling factors that impressed Lathan.
“The audience is going to get the chance to sit at so many seats at the table,” said the actress. “They will get to experience the feelings of the cop behind the shooting, his family life and what he’s going through. They’ll be able to see the feelings of the mothers, the prosecutor from the justice department. It gives a 360-degree view.”
The Bythewoods hope that “Shots Fired” offers much-needed insight for viewers.
“It feels good because we’re not sitting on the sidelines; we feel a true responsibility,” said Reggie. “It’s like doing an autopsy.”
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