Losing focus on reality

Facile media coverage spurs misguided public reaction

By The Advocate, Editorial Board

Death is a reality that we all must face, but coping with how and when death arrives is not as simple — especially when a loved one is ripped away and no one can answer the only question that matters — “why?”

Former Contra Costa College student Demarcus Doss, 24, was shot and killed while driving with his friend on Interstate 80 between the Macdonald and San Pablo avenue exits on Thursday around 3:30 p.m.

Family members and friends said Doss was not the target of the shooting but a victim of mistaken identity.

In reality, Doss’ death is an example of what it’s like to be black in America.

Someone can be viciously killed on a major freeway, but people take to social media to talk about their delayed commutes instead of asking which family lost their son, brother and friend to senseless violence.

His older sister, Shanyla Robinson, who played two years on the CCC women’s basketball team, said because one of the three shots that struck Doss hit the front of his head, the doctors at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek could not perform surgery.

She said Doss sacrificed himself serving as a human shield to protect his female passenger from the hail of bullets.

He died a hero.

“My brother didn’t think twice about protecting his friend — that’s just the kind of person he was,” Robinson said.

She said because her brother showed no signs of brain activity, Doss died when his family removed him from life support 24 hours after he was shot.

According to California Highway Patrol Lt. Jason Reardon, the family was forced to remove Doss from life support when the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office took his body to conduct an autopsy.

Because of the severe damage to his brain Doss was taken off of life support three hours into the six-hour period the family was given to say their final goodbyes.

Robinson said, “His own dad didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to Demarcus while he was still alive.”

Doss’ brother, Kellis Love, said Doss graduated from Pinole Valley High School in 2011, was on the basketball team there, is a CCC alumnus and was enrolled at Cal State-East Bay as a criminal justice major.

Demarcus is survived by his parents Eddie Doss and Macletus Doss, brothers Marquelle Doss, Kellis Love and sisters Shanyla Robinson, Shanay Doss and Leta Doss.

Local news groups, KTVU, FOX and ABC covered the where, when and how. But to answer the lingering “why?” would make people uncomfortable — it would make people think about how being black in America increases the chance of unexpected death.

Mainstream media organizations will bring on family members to fill their primetime broadcasts to talk about their loss.

While this is good, they won’t be asked questions about how our underfunded educational system and the decrease of entry-level jobs has created a vacuum of opportunity in impoverished communities.

Doss’ death was fueled by greed and misinformation, not hate.

Our society, which claims to be just and fair, has not only failed the misguided perpetrators of this and other similar acts, but more importantly — the families of victims like Doss.