Army Spc. Tevin Geike was walking down Pacific Highway in Lakewood, Wash., early Saturday morning with two Army buddies, Matthew Barnes and Brian Johnson. They were on their way to a party celebrating Geike’s impending discharge from the military. All three of the men were white.
A car cruised by. “The five men inside were black,” said the KIRO-7 reporter in a rare moment of journalistic honesty. “They were looking for trouble,” an emotionally wrought Barnes told him. “They were looking for someone to attack.”
Barnes believed that “maybe race had something to do with it” because of what the men yelled at him and his pals. “There is a derogatory term that they use for white people,” said Barnes. “It’s cracker and what not. I heard that phrase repeated numerous times.”
“So this is how we treat combat veterans now?” Barnes yelled at the men. The car circled back. The five men jumped out, and, according to the reporter, “One of the five men was most aggressive and stabbed Geike multiple times.”
The five men then hopped back in the car and sped away. Initial reporting out of Washington, like KIRO’s, led with the “hate crime” angle. That did not last.
On Monday, Oct. 7, Lakewood police arrested three soldiers in the stabbing death of Geike. The knife-wielder, Jeremiah Hill, cut himself in the process.
Reportedly, it was only when his buddies saw him covered in blood that they learned what had happened. At least two of them helped Hill dispose of the knife, and they, too, have been arrested.
When it became clear that the attackers were fellow servicemen at Joint Base Lewis-McCord south of Tacoma, prosecutors, with an able assist from the media, began to scrub hate from the narrative.
The Huffington Post headlined its Oct. 7 account, “Tevin Geike, U.S. Soldier Stabbed To Death, Not A Victim Of Hate Crime, Police Say.”
The CBS News lead on Oct. 8 added detail. “There may have been some ‘trash talk’ between a car full of black soldiers and three white soldiers on foot, but race was not the main issue in the weekend stabbing death of a soldier near a large Army base in Washington state, police and prosecutors said.”
The CBS report adds, “The groups were separating after realizing they were all active-duty soldiers when Geike was fatally stabbed.”
The Tacoma News Tribune quoted prosecutor Mark Lindquist as saying, “Both friends of the victim and friends of the suspect agree that race was not the issue here.” Lindquist, in fact, went so far as to call race a “non-issue.”
Barnes, however, was most definitely a friend of the victim. He was there at the scene. He witnessed the stabbing. Geike died in his arms. There is no mistaking what he told KIRO-7 40 hours after the incident and before the suspects were apprehended.
Race was an issue, likely the issue, and there is absolutely no reason to believe Barnes lied. Just as critically, he gave the KIRO-7 reporter no hint that the attackers were fellow servicemen. This was too critical a detail for him to have overlooked.
Unlike the national media, KIRO-7 continued to plug away at the truth. On Oct. 8, the station reported that both Barnes and his friend and fellow witness Brian Johnson expressed shock and disgust upon learning that Geike’s killer was a soldier.
“He should be shot for betraying his country and his comrades,” Barnes told KIRO-7. “He betrayed his nation,” added Johnson. From their comments it is clear they did not know the attackers were servicemen until after they were arrested.
The contrast between media response to the Lakewood case and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., in February 2012 could not be more stark.
In the latter case, the major media did everything in their power, including the corruption of evidence, to make Zimmerman appear racist and the killing a hate crime.
Prompted by the media, Attorney General Eric Holder assigned the FBI, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate Zimmerman for possibly violating Martin’s civil rights.
However, from his first days in office – the New Black Panther voter intimidation case come quickly to mind – Holder has chosen not to pay attention to even the most egregious black violations of civil rights law.
Given the military’s stake in suppressing all interracial friction, especially of the black-on-white variety, Holder will feel no heat to investigate Geike’s death. Nor, for certain, will the media hold his feet to the fire.
Then too, with the Zimmerman investigation still “ongoing,” government shutdown or no, where would Holder ever find the time?