The finale of season six of CBS’s Blue Bloods opens with an intense foot chase that culminates with a black New York City police officer fatally shooting a Hispanic, knife-wielding, suspect, who, according to enraged eyewitnesses, had his “hands up.”
Ripped straight from the headlines, the May 6 episode, entitled “Blowback,” is loosely based on the pernicious lie that Michael Brown had his hands up and was executed by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson.
In the case of Michael Brown, the facts outweighed the fiction and an Eric Holder-headed Justice Department investigation that concluded that Michael Brown did not have his hands up when Wilson fatally shot him. But it appears that the opportunity to advance the narrative that America’s streets are being stalked by an unknown number of trigger-happy cops, who can kill innocents free from fear of reprisal, was a narrative too seductive for the show’s writers to pass up.
When a grand jury declines to indict the NYPD officer involved in the body-camera-captured shooting, tensions begin to run high in the city and specifically for the show’s stars.
New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) is seen passionately defending his officer from a barrage of attacks from Mayor Carter Poole (David Ramsey).
“Frank, what the hell was your guy thinking just blowing him away?” Poole asks.
“He was thinking what he was trained to think,” Reagan responds. “The suspect repeatedly ignored commands to throw down the weapon.”
“His hands were in the air,” Poole said.
“And one of them held a knife,” Reagan responded.
During a stirring grand jury testimony, Officer Russell says, “I just want to say I did my job, as I was trained to do it. And I’d do it again. But the last thing I ever wanted to do was shoot that kid.”
Strain in the city reaches a boiling point after a police officer is shot while sitting in his patrol car — an ambush-style attack that appeared to be in retaliation to the grand jury decision.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, but it certainly appears that Officer Hayes and his partner were targeted because they were police officers,” Police Commissioner Reagan says of the shooting to a gaggle of reporters.
In a trademark scene that shows the Reagan family kids arguing at the dinner table, Frank chimes in, saying, “From where I sit, Officer Russell did the right thing. The problem is, somewhere along the line, the trust between cops and the public broke down — and there’s plenty of blame to go around.”
The Blue Bloods episode frequently mirrors the reality of America’s law enforcement community that has spent the last few years facing rising levels of violence from vigilante-style ambush attackers.