Monday, April 25, 2005

Reporting is Hard

I've been periodically checking the news for the status of little Donte Manning—the 9-year-old who was shot in the head last month while playing in his front yard here in DC. It's been a massacre of young ones in the District this year, and for no reason in particular this one stuck with me, curdling in my gut. Playing in his own front yard. Gunned down in stray fire. A well-known drug den that police never touched. Killer still at large. Official expressions of concern and newly constituted seriousness. Rage, rage, rage. For a while there were semi-regular updates on Donte; they couldn't operate to remove the bullet from the base of skull until the swelling went down, and he remained in critical condition, and then the stories just sort of dropped off.

So my shoulders sagged today when a google news search showed NBC4 reporting that Donte died on Friday. But then the next story notes that Donte is breathing on his own after being taken off life support on Friday. Said story confesss:
There are conflicting reports about the status of a nine-year-old boy who was struck in the head last month by a bullet.

Calvin Woodland, a staffer for D.C. Council member Jim Graham, says the boy's family told him that Donte Manning was breathing on his own at a hospital as of early Saturday morning -- after a respirator was removed Friday night.

Woodland says he has no other information about Donte's condition.

The Associated Press ran a story Friday night that said the boy had died. The information was based on reports by several TV stations, citing D.C. police.

A police spokesman could not be reached for comment today.


This is not Fermat's Last Theorem or the fucking Dead Sea Scrolls. Pick up a phone, call the hospital, contact a family spokesman, do whatever you have to do to avoid filing a story announcing that this 9-year-old boy who's been hovering around death with a bullet in his brainpan for the last month might have died the day before, or on the other hand, he might not have. I know these reporters did not shoot the lad, but the incompetence and neglect that have dogged the heels of this kid from start to finish just all fit neatly into my little wad of rage. Hang in there, kiddo.


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