Of all of the hucksters who managed to agglomerate around the Black Lives Matter movement when they realized a few bucks could be wrung from it, Shaun King probably has to rank a close second to that white Australian guy who ran a BLM Facebook page and took in over $100,000 in donations.
King, for those unfamiliar with him, managed to turn a high social media profile into tons of donations and jobs in the media. Then, in November of 2015, King stepped away from fundraising after The Daily Caller noted many of the charities he was collecting money for didn’t actually exist. Even some of his former supporters — including the family of Tamir Rice, who was shot by Cleveland police — began abandoning him, and his credibility had pretty much tanked.
Like Al Sharpton unsteadily rising to his feet from the stentorian blow of the Tawana Brawley mishap, however, King seemed to be slowly remaking his career from those setbacks.
Last October, King was credited with helping helm an effort to track down three racists who allegedly assaulted a black counter-protesters at the infamous Charlottesville white nationalist rally, which is actually something pretty much anyone with basic moral scruples could applaud (even if King’s long history of Avenatti-like self-promotion made one question just how much of a role he really played). He was making moves toward being considered a credible figure again.
And then, into King’s world came his own Tawana Brawley: Sherita Dixon-Cole. In promoting her fake rape story at the hands of a police officer — much in the same way Sharpton did with Brawley over three decades ago — King made a lot of mistakes, impugning not one but two innocent individuals.
But, if you listen to Shaun King, the real victim is … Shaun King.
Let’s start with the basics. Dixon-Cole is a Texas woman who accused a state trooper of raping her last Sunday. It didn’t take long for King to take up her case, along with civil rights attorney Lee Merritt. He described Dixon-Cole’s story rather succinctly during a radio appearance made shortly after it broke.
“The officer first communicated to Sherita that he would be willing to let her go if she performed sexual favors for him, then proceeded to sexually assault her, touching her under her skirt,” King told WNBM-FM. “When her fiancé arrived, the officer asked Sherita if he had a gun, and threatened to kill him if she said anything about what had just happened.”
That sounds like a pretty powerful story. It also sounds like King was 100 percent certain it happened — note the absolute surety of what he says, not an “allegedly” to be found anywhere.
Dixon-Cole said that the policeman who raped her was named “Officer Hubbard” or something like that. It didn’t take long for King to make his first mistake: making a Facebook post that identified the officer only as “Officer Hubbard.”
The officer in question was Daniel Hubbard. However, many of King’s online acolytes tracked down Jarrod K. Hubbard — who obviously had the same surname — and began issuing death threats toward him.
Now, keep in mind that any responsible individual could have waited for confirmation as to who the officer really was instead of just issuing a surname. An investigation of rape by a police officer in the line of official duty — especially one publicized with great incessancy by King — could have easily identified the subject officer with great rapidity. Instead, they chose to just put “Officer Hubbard” out there, likely with the full knowledge that people would track down any Officer Hubbard.
On Monday, Jarrod K. Hubbard’s attorneys sent King a letter demanding he “minimize the harm that has been and is being caused” by “disclosing that my client is not and has been erroneously identified as the Officer Daniel Hubbard involved in the event.”
“The identification error has defamed and is defaming my client and his family resulting in substantial harassment and threats necessitating his discontinuation of his Facebook page and need and request for protection for himself and his family from appropriate law enforcement agencies,” the letter read, according to Fox News.
King replied to Jarrod K. Hubbard’s attorney by saying he was “absolutely aware that it is not him” and that “I have never misidentified a person in all my years as a journalist.”
Well, King may have had an incipient lawsuit on his hands, but at least now he had the right officer Hubbard: Daniel Hubbard, the woman who pulled over Ms. Dixon-Cole. Only he had another problem: Daniel Hubbard hadn’t raped her, either.
“On May 20, 2018, at approximately 1:32 a.m., a Texas Highway Patrol Trooper observed a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu traveling south on Interstate 35 in Ellis County near U.S. 287,” a Tuesday statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety read.
“The vehicle was stopped for a traffic violation. Based on the traffic stop, the driver was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). The driver, identified as Sherita Dixon-Cole, 37, from Grapevine, was arrested and transported to the Ellis County Jail, where she was charged with DWI.
“Following the arrest, spurious and false accusations related to this traffic stop were made against the Texas Trooper. Upon learning of those allegations, the Texas Department of Public Safety immediately took action to review the video in connection with this traffic stop and arrest. The video shows absolutely no evidence to support the egregious and unsubstantiated accusations against the Trooper during the DWI arrest of the suspect. The Department is appalled that anyone would make such a despicable, slanderous and false accusation against a peace officer who willingly risks his life every day to protect and serve the public.”
And they released the bodycam footage, too — which, to his minimal credit, King was willing to retweet.
Today the Texas Department of Public Safety released this body camera footage of the traffic stop, field sobriety test, and subsequent arrest of Sherita Dixon-Cole.
It does not appear to show any verbal threats, sexual assault, or police brutality.https://t.co/qkz35GtDJd
— Shaun King (@shaunking) May 23, 2018
But in a piece posted on Medium, King apologized directly to neither Hubbard, even saying that Dixon-Cole’s arrest “is arguably unwarranted.” He did want you to know who the real victims were, though — Shaun King, his supporters, other people who have been hurt at the hands of the police, and the black community.
“I trusted a very reliable source in this case that I have known for many years. But even in spite of trusting that source, I poked and prodded for holes and was repeatedly assured that Sherita Dixon-Cole has never and would never fake something like this,” King writes. “She proved them all wrong. In most sexual assault cases, all you have is someone’s word and every person connected to Sherita Dixon-Cole believed her words in this case. I regret that I did. Hindsight is 20/20.”
Cole, he says, “victimized us. She victimized the man she falsely accused and she victimized those who stood up for her — believing that she had experienced the worst crimes. Thankfully, she does not represent anyone but herself. She does not represent actual victims of sex crimes. She does not represent actual victims of police brutality. And she does not represent black women or black people. An awful tendency exists in this country to hold all people of color responsible for the transgressions of one person in that group. That’s racism and it must be rejected here. We reject what Sherita Dixon-Cole has done here. It’s awful.”
What we can learn from these two paragraphs is that King is a very forgiving man when it comes to himself, even if he’s not particularly forgiving of anyone or anything else. He is so forgiving of himself, in fact, that even he’s a victim of a woman whose fabulist version of events he bought into wholesale without corroborating any of the available evidence in order to advance his anti-police agenda.
All King had to do was wait — wait for the officer’s name, wait for the video, wait for the full story. All he had to do was wait mere hours and he could have saved himself and his wounded reputation heaps of trouble. The fact that he didn’t proves the worst about King: He’s nothing more than an opportunist, forever chasing that cultural ambulance without finding out what’s inside it first, forever chasing the monetization of attention without realizing that most of that attention isn’t of the positive sort.
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