The Media Got It Wrong: Police Captain Didn’t Say the Atlanta Spa Killer Was Having a ‘Bad Day’
A moment from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office press conference on Wednesday quickly went viral: Jay Baker, a spokesperson for the police department handling the investigation into the horrific Atlanta spa murders, said that suspect Robert Aaron Long was having a bad day.
“He was pretty much fed up, kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” said Baker.
The comment struck many people as overly sympathetic toward Long, as if Baker was making excuses for someone who stands accused of killing eight Asian-American women in cold blood. A 20-second video clip of Baker’s statement was shared on Twitter by Vox journalist Aaron Rupar and swiftly went viral, earning widespread condemnation. Many saw it as evidence that cops are desperate to discount the culpability of white male criminals. For instance, Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor and inventor of the term “intersectionality,” described Baker’s comments as “bone-chilling,” and castigated him for refusing to acknowledge “the misogynistic dimensions of anti-Asian racism.”
A police officer excusing Long’s actions as merely the result of him having a “bad day” would indeed be contemptible. But that’s not what Baker did. In fact, many of the people so infuriated about the quote were misled by Rupar’s edit of the video.
The full video (the relevant section starts at about 13:50) makes clear that Baker was not providing his own commentary, but rather summarizing what Long had told the investigators. The “bad day” line was proceeded by a clarification that this was Long’s own explanation, as related to the police. Baker did not endorse it.
Nor did the captain endorse Long’s statement that the killings were unrelated to racism. He makes clear he’s relaying comments from Long. “He claims that—and as the chief said this is still early—but he does claim that it was not racially motivated,” said Baker. Again, the police spokesman is telling reporters what Long said, not applying his own spin. Later, when another reporter asked about this, Baker stepped aside so that At
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