The Killing of Kasandra Perkins by Jovan Belcher

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The Kansas City Star has a story up narrating the Jovan Belcher's actions after he murdered his girlfriend and the mother of his child:

Belcher thanked Pioli for everything he had done for him. He asked if he and Clark Hunt would take care of his daughter. Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs arrived in the parking lot and Belcher reportedly announced, "Guys, I have to do this." 

Crennel tried to dissuade him. "I was trying to get him to understand that life is not over," Crennel told The Star. "He still has a chance and let's get this worked out.''

As Pioli and Crennel tried to reason with Belcher, the men heard police sirens closing in. Belcher then walked a few steps away with the gun still pointed at his head.

"I got to go," Belcher reportedly said. "I can't be here."

Belcher knelt behind a vehicle and made the sign of the cross across his chest before firing a single bullet into his head. Kansas City police believe Belcher killed himself because he was distraught over what he had done to Perkins.

"He cared about her," Sharp said. "I don't think he could live with himself."

I think this stretches the boundaries of the word "care." If caring about the mother of your child includes killing her, then the word "care" has no applicable meaning. We might as well use the word "hate." Your feelings are known only to you. Your actions are the only evidence we have. The most important action that Jovan Belcher took toward Kasandra Perkins was the ending of her life.

It may well be true, as the Chiefs claim to believe, that Belcher killed himself because he was "distraught" over having killed someone he claimed to care about. It may also be true that Belcher killed himself because he was "distraught" at the grave consequences he would face for having enslaved a human life, for appropriating someone else's body to serve as a vessel for his rage.

But what is indisputable is that Jovan Belcher was a murderer. Like George Huguely is a murderer. Like Clayton Whittemore is a murderer.

Self-murder does not change this.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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