‘I Want to Pull My Gun,’ KHOU Gives Activist New Perspective

By Kevin Eck 

Sometimes a TV station does something that transcends the search for better ratings, tells a story that has impact, can maybe, possibly, somehow, start a real conversation about a real problem.

KHOU did just that.  The Houston CBS affiliate asked a man who often leads protests against police and police-related shootings if he wanted to walk in an officer’s shoes, to see what they see.

It’s a new perspective for the man playing the officer: community activist Quanell X. As the head of Houston’s New Black Panther Party, he’s led years of protests against police use of force.


But in a training exercise at the Missouri City Police Department, Quanell saw the view from inside the line of fire.

Quanell went through four live-action scenarios that were all based on things that have actually happened.

In one scenario a man with a baby pulls a knife and lunges at Quanell X. Asked when he saw the knife, Quanell X said, “To be honest with you, I never saw the knife. I never saw the knife, but I saw him come out of his pocket with something like this. If he would have pulled a lollypop out of his pocket, the same way he just did, I still would have used force to stop him and then somebody could have said well all he had was a lollipop, but you don’t know when it’s happening so fast like that.”

One viewer was not so impressed. She wrote on the station’s facebook page, “All we need now is some non-uniformed police officers to drive around and get stopped for no reason and try not to get beat or shot, to see the other point of view.”

While Quanell X said he still thinks some officers are too quick to use deadly force, his reaction to the scenarios showed he better understands the police perspective.

“Please brothers and sisters, if they tell you to do something, do it,” said Quanell. “When the suspect started being combative or argumentative, I want to pull my gun.”

He’s shocked at how many shots he fired, something he so often questions in police shootings. In one scenario he came face to face with one of his criticisms of police, that they fire too many shots.

“I think I might have emptied my clip,” said Quanell, and standing in a cop’s shoes, Quanell wants them to have more backup.

“I think police shootings would go down if you had at least two cops assigned to every vehicle,” said Quanell. “You’re trying to see everything and guess everything at the same time.”

After a lifetime of second-guessing police, Quanell now sees shades of gray in situations that once seemed purely black and white.