But man, stuff like this should never happen.
The police report says that Shawne Williams was simultaneously:
Driving a Cadillac that was not properly registered,
Without a valid license,
While neglecting to signal a lane change in front of a cop,
In a car thick with marijuana smoke, with an active blunt in the front ashtray,
With the butt of an unlicensed, stolen gun visible from outside the car.
I mean, look, I'm more disturbed by plenty of other crimes (including the way Rashard Lewis and his friends have operated motor vehicles).
These are all, luckily, victimless crimes and apparently at low speed with a sober driver.
I've heard that the stuff about his license and registration not being up to snuff might prove to have been unfounded as the legal process unfolds.
And the lane change -- who hasn't done that?
But you take all that mess of questionable stuff, and add to it the marijuana (police are charging Williams with possession) and the gun that is being charged to his passenger.
In theory, both of those things could have been the fault of the people Williams was hanging out with. He is from a very tough part of Memphis. His brother was shot before his very eyes. And he has not been in this kind of trouble before, that I'm aware.
Maybe when you're Shawne Williams and friends stop by this is just what you get, despite all those warnings you'll hear from a thousand smart people saying you have to be careful who you hang out with, you have to be aware of your surroundings, you have to do things the right way.
But I'll never understand why marijuana must be smoked in a moving car. Anything you do in a moving car is a magnet to the police. Picture "the police." You picture a car, right? (I remember a great cartoon I saw once, of a dude in a tie-dye, with a big rasta hat on, who had been pulled over, and he's saying "Seriously officer, I wouldn't have been going so fast if I wasn't so stoned. Oh s---, did I just say that or did I just think that?") When you get in a car, you can practically guarantee that you'll see a police car. And if it's late at night, and your windows are tinted darkly, that police officer might just decide to have a look inside. He couldn't do that to you in your house. But in your car ...
And the gun? Let's run through this for a second. The red and blues were flashing behind you, and you have an unlicensed and stolen gun visible? (This wasn't Shawne Williams, but the dude in the backseat.) What kind of idiot do you have to be to own that thing, and what kind of super double idiot do you have to be to not hide it?
I know, I know, I know, there are thousands of incidents of police reports that aren't proven totally accurate. The truth may have been a lot more complicated. The police report is one person's version of events.
(And there is always the race issue. Why'd they get pulled over again? Not signaling a lane change? I'm guessing that gets ignored by police millions of times a day. That all-too-common phantom charge of "driving while black" might be part of it too.)
But COME ON! How do you get in this situation? Isn't this why the Rookie Transitions Program exists? Isn't there someone, somewhere, who can teach Shawne Williams the things to say and do to make sure this kind of thing never happens again?
If your license situation is sketchy, get someone else to drive! If you must smoke pot, stay home! If your car lacks the proper tags, call a limo! If you're an NBA player hoping to have a long career, tell your friends to leave their illegal guns at home! If you have any reason to fear the police, signal every lane change! (If all of the above are true, then, then, then ... I don't even know what to say.)
Look, I remember being a teenager (not that Williams is, he's 21). I remember being ruled by peer pressure and hormones. I have done stupid things that I am glad to have survived. I was lucky enough to have a lot of good role models around, and the sense to mimic them. I hope Shawne Williams does too.