Here I go again.

Notes to self: Do not make promises lest someone tell you that you should be ashamed of yourself. Do not call anyone a self-important windbag lest it show up in the PG’s Cutting Edge column. Do not tell anyone to shove anything up his or her ass lest your Twitter friends reprimand you and justly so.

You may continue.

A pastor presiding at the funeral service for an Allentown man killed by a Pittsburgh police K-9 handler took to the pulpit yesterday and blasted news media coverage, police K-9 procedures and a local radio talk show.

“There needs to be a reformation in our city, a straightening of something that is not quite right. The status quo can no longer work in our city. No more business as usual in our city,” Bishop Carswell said.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard yesterday said she believes that if someone gives up, is compliant and puts their arms above their head, “then the dog will sit in front of them and bark.”

“Why was that information with held from us, the people who police dogs are usually put on?” Bishop Carswell asked.

Bishop Carswell noted that he did not personally know the Jackson family until the shooting occurred. But he criticized media stories about Mr. Jackson, who was arrested for assault as both a juvenile and an adult, saying the coverage inaccurately “painted a picture like he was such a horrible young man.”

Dear Bishop Carswell:

1. While you’re calling for the “straightening” of an entire metropolitan area, please remember that it wasn’t an entire metropolitan area and all of its inhabitants that chose to live a life punctuated with crime after crime, ultimately resulting in a confrontation with police. Justin Jackson did that. Not me. I don’t need straightened out, thank you very much. But if I did need straightened out, I’d like David Conrad to do it. Just a little humor there.

2. Regarding this super secret information about what to do when a K-9 dog attacks, here’s some things to remember. I don’t need to know how to make a K-9 dog not attack me. I just need to know that I should do whatever the hell a cop tells me to do. If you don’t brandish a gun, the police won’t release the dog. If you choose not to put your hands on your head or choose not to run away from it, but instead choose to shoot the dog, well, that’s just not a smart choice. Gunfire = return gunfire. Always. That’s the only information you need.

3. The media did not paint the picture of Justin Jackson as a troubled youth with a long history of criminal activity. That was a self-portrait and Justin Jackson and only Justin Jackson wielded the brush.



  1. unsatisfied
    May 14, 2008 11:41 am

    now THAT’S church!

    nothing more to add — except to say that I wonder if the post count on this entry will exceed the one for this subject from the other day….

  2. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    May 14, 2008 11:52 am

    Amen, PittGirl. Why is it that it is always someone else’s responsibility and not the individual’s? Why do we (the collective we, not you and me PittGirl) always have to look for an excuse when we do something bad? Some days I just want to go hide in a cave and shut the whole world out, but then I realize, hey, the Penguins are making a run and the Bucs are playing the opposite of total suckiness right now (figured I would not actually say the words) and a smile comes across my face. As a side note, I usually don’t watch American Idol after the trainwreck audition stage, but caught it last night and I must say, I was quite impressed with David Cook.

  3. Heather
    May 14, 2008 12:13 pm

    What a douche! The good bishop is blasting the very same media that he is using to get his 15 minutes. Considering he didn’t know the family before he saw the story he’s an opportunistic piece of craptastic funk.

  4. Lawrence
    May 14, 2008 12:23 pm

    Oh here we go again ….. Looks like someone of the faith needs press coverage.

    Even if the kid was trying to clean thing up in his life (not distinguished by carrying the gun) ….. it would take him years to ear back respect …… so …… the Bishop just needs to keep his mouth shut, and do the Godly thing – help the family through this …. not get his 15 minutes of fame.

    Sad to see that representation of any church can’t pass up a press op at a family’s and city’s expense.


  5. JamieO
    May 14, 2008 12:32 pm

    Police dogs bring some bad memories to the black community.

    That being said, this isn’t the police turning dogs on protesters. K-9s are considered officers, the guy shot the dog. What is the cop supposed to do, yell at him? A shot was fired. And even if you think “dogs are not officers, they are just dogs”, then how is the cop supposed to know he wasn’t next.

    The focus here shouldn’t be on the media or the police. There are definitely legit reasons to criticize police in some instances, as there are times to criticize the media. Tony Norman’s brief mention in his next to last column touches on one – easy availability of guns. Others are what is going on in the families of these kids, the economy, the cycle of violence, etc. Not making excuses for Jackson, but these are tough issues that need to be solved.

    The tough-to-ignore truth here is a 19-year-old was walking down the street with a concealed handgun.

  6. JP
    May 14, 2008 12:33 pm

    If you have proof of a police cover up, put it forth. If you don’t quit bringing it into the mix. Not to belittle the loss of human life or gloat over the fact that a thug got cuaght up in his own BS, but how about all the normal every day people up in Arlington, Beltzhoover, Mt. Oliver, Allentown, St Claire Village, Konxville etc. who have to deal with the bullshit from gangs and hoods on a daily basis. Where is the outrage for these people especially the elderly who have to deal all with the crap that these little pricks bring. That kid was up there walking around with the stolen pistol for what purpose? I seriously doubt he walking back from marksmenship class.

  7. Monty
    May 14, 2008 12:50 pm

    Christ, more on this one? Now I’m going to be dreaming about police gerbils again.

  8. lw
    May 14, 2008 12:52 pm

    JP – thank you. I used to live in Knoxville. We left because of situations like this. Young punks walking around like they own the streets. I still have a lot family and friends in that area that don’t want to leave because its their neighborhood too.

  9. retiredguy
    May 14, 2008 1:00 pm

    Well, the thug had his thug funeral. I guess we can move on until the next thug Darwin Award winner comes along.

    Shame on Bishop Carswell. Shame shame shame shame.

  10. Pensrule
    May 14, 2008 1:09 pm

    Guess Ben has to buy another dog?

  11. Brian
    May 14, 2008 2:08 pm

    OK …. ugh. Look, basically (and I know this isn’t something only I figured out) Bishop Carswell is trying to say, “This is happening because the suspect was black.” That’s what this is, plain and simple. The dog was released because he was black, the cop “planted a gun” because he was black, the community needs to do something because this kid was black. And you know, with actual situations going on where real, bonafide, stinking racism DOES occur, incidents such as this water down the effect when real cases of race take place. So when a real race issue pops up, the ones that are not real and are just used as an excuse to place sympathy on an alleged criminal (and the man DID have a record) take away from things that deserve our attention and outrage.

    Just because Justin Jackson was a black man does not make him a criminal, but it also does not excuse him from anything he may have done wrong. Do you think an officer would put his canine partner in harm’s way just to carry out some sort of racist agenda? I seriously doubt it, and until people such as Bishop Carswell acknowledge what’s going on, we really can’t change our community. There IS crime in the inner city, and yes, there also is frustration there because of job situations and pverty. Making an excuse for criminals isn’t going to change this. This is sad all around.

  12. Ex-Burgher
    May 14, 2008 2:08 pm

    Another well put and FINALLY a realistic perspective! The media did not sensationalize this boys past to make him look like a criminal, he WAS a criminal. News Flash: If a police officer asks you to do something, Just. Do. It. I didn’t appreciate getting pulled over going 53 mph in a 50 every time I drove through Summersville, WV while everyone with a WVU license plate speeds past me doing 80. But I do it, because when you see sirens, or you see a badge, or in this case a gun, You listen.

    Though I would really appreciate a public service announcement about how to respond to a police dog or how to react when the police ask you to stop and put your hands up. For sh*ts and giggles, I feel like they should show “What to do” and “What not to do”

  13. John
    May 14, 2008 2:19 pm

    I get so sick and tired of the blame game in all of this. It always has to be someone else’s fault. Well, y’know, if Justin Jackson hadn’t been brandishing a gun and then fired said gun, then the police wouldn’t have opened fire on him. It’s that simple. If Justin Jackson had been at home, trying to turn his life around (as his relatives all say he was trying to do), then he wouldn’t have been out in public with a gun. It’s that simple. It’s not the police’s fault that he had a gun. It’s not any our faults he had a gun. It was his own damned fault. So, enough of the blame game, Bishop Carswell. Enough.

  14. McSmooth
    May 14, 2008 2:22 pm

    Bishop Carswell?

    Suck it.

  15. Puma
    May 14, 2008 3:32 pm

    I got a speeding ticket 2 weeks ago. 62mph in a 40mph zone. I thought, “I hate cops! These damn speed traps are just set up to meet the monthly quotas. And, great! I got 4 points!” I was mad AT the police… for about 30 mins.

    Then I realized: I was breaking the law, or at least the speed limit. And, I was mad at myself. I then got over it, quickly.

    Jackson’s parents and these so-called community leaders are just mad at themselves.

  16. JP
    May 14, 2008 3:48 pm

    @Puma I was wondering that was well; is that frustration really being re-directed? If that is the case, then man, you gotta let that go. I can’t see how an entire community can feel responsible for one kid who turns out as a criminal. I am a white guy who grew up in Pittsburgh and I do not feel responsible for Richard Baumhammer. I am a democrat and I do not feel responsible for the mayor.

  17. 15 min of fame seeker
    May 14, 2008 5:47 pm

    Bishop Otis L. Carswell has a blog to promote some sort or subscription based pod/video cast … why am i not surprised

    hmmm, nah, nm

  18. 15 min of fame seeker
    May 14, 2008 5:51 pm

    my mistake … it’s not the rev’s blog … officially, it’s a podcast he contributes to

    he does have a guestbook at his website though:

  19. xena
    May 14, 2008 10:30 pm

    When I was old enough to drive a car–and thus capable of escaping the eagle eyes of my parents–my dad had a very short conversation with me about getting stopped by police officers. This was in the early 1970s, when police were still being called “pigs” by some people. Here’s the gist of what he told me: “Roll down your window, put your hands on the steering wheel in plain view, and do what you are told. If you do something stupid, you could get shot. Police officers have every right to protect their lives. And if you smart off to a cop, that’s the last time you’ll drive a car that belongs to me.”

    Just so.

    The late Mr. Jackson was 19 years old. He had a GUN. He pulled it out and SHOT a police K-9. The Bishop’s questions should be: What in the world did he think would happen if he pulled a gun in the presence of cops and then shot a K-9? And why didn’t anyone teach him that if he continued to make bad choices (multiple assaults, carrying a gun, pulling the gun, using the gun) there would be a consequence? Clearly, the justice system tried to teach him something since he was arrested as a juvenile and an adult. But he failed to learn the lesson. Just as all the other 19 year-olds carrying guns will learn nothing from what happened to Mr. Jackson.

  20. Steeler_tom
    May 14, 2008 10:30 pm

    Racism exists everywhere. Even in the black community.
    Hey Bishop next time before you point fingers at what you consider dirt everywhere. Sweep your damn back door first! Then come talk to me.
    You nasty bastid!

  21. Sue
    May 15, 2008 8:03 am

    Well put, Xena. Where were his family, church, neighborhood, teachers when he entered into a life of crime several years ago? Discipline and respect begins at home. Bishop Carswell should be asking questions of this kid’s family. He obviously learned nothing from his previous arrests or from his family. “Sometimes, it takes a village.” The Bishop should be trying to figure out a way to keep these type of kids out of trouble instead of questioning the city police and why they did what they did.

  22. morepittsburghthanyou
    May 15, 2008 8:05 am

    Just thought it should be mentioned…

    This was the same police dog that went crazy biting a grandma and a 20 year old male on Forbes Ave. in Oakland on August 20, 2005 during a peaceful anti-war protest.

    “Another woman, Carol Wiedmann, 68, of Sewickley, was taken to Presbyterian University Hospital after being bitten in the thigh by a police dog, and was to be charged with disorderly conduct and failure to disperse…Tom Boney, a visitor from Graham, N.C., who was helping enroll a child at Carnegie Mellon University, said he could not see any provocation by protestors, but said police did use the police dog to force the protesters to move. Boney also said he did not see Wiedmann do anything to provoke the dog into biting her.”

    This dog was clearly out of control, or it’s handlers were not capable of keeping him from misbehaving.

    Or the Pittsburgh Police think it’s appropriate to let a dog bite a 68 year old grandma who is protesting war. Either way, something is messed up, and I don’t think it’s just Justin Jackson.

  23. julia
    May 15, 2008 8:48 am

    1. No where in that article does it name the police dog that bit Grandma so how do you know it was the same dog?

    2. Are you really trying to make the arguement that it was the Dog and not the Parolee with multiple convictions with a Gun who just happened to be in the same area where police were responding to reports of gun fire?

    Xena and Sue — Well put! I think the point to all of this – which any mature, well taught, law-abiding person will tell you – When a police officer tells you to do something, you listen.

  24. retiredguy
    May 15, 2008 10:13 am

    “Boney also said he did not see Wiedmann do anything to provoke the dog into biting her.”

    Yeah, HE didn’t SEE. Doesn’t mean she didn’t.

  25. Dan (Not Onarato)
    May 15, 2008 7:20 pm

    Truer words have never been spoken…preach it

  26. blue_collar
    May 16, 2008 8:52 am

    Please, I urge you not to be naive. You must realize that Bishop Carswell’s interview was cut into snippets and then was posted into the article. Bishop Carswell is calling for a Reformation of our city not just because some black male has died but if you would visit the church you will understand that he has been calling for a reformation of “business as usual” for several weeks. If you would continue to read the article, you would notice that he called for a reformation of not only police-community relations, but also for black-black relations as well. Bishop Carswell, from my understanding, wants our city to change for the better to prevent any more deaths in this year and the years to follow; He is trying to spread an idea of individual reformation to every person in Pittsburgh. If every person chooses to improve themselves and the situation/neighborhood that they live in then we can reform our city.

  27. blue_collar
    May 16, 2008 9:40 am

    Please listen to the interview talking about this incident and the article…
    Marty speaks with Bishop Otis Carswell-EXCLUSIVE