Shots Fired takes aim at how race and economics determine justice in court and the media.
The idea behind Shots Fired (2017current) seems oddly simple: let’s make viewers who’d normally ignore #BlackLivesMatter pay attention to the issue of racial profiling in policing by race-swapping and having a black cop shoot a white kid. And series co- creator Gina Prince-Bythewood admits that yes, that actually is part of why the story is written this way. “It’s very easy for people to watch the news and see a piece about a shooting – if you don’t identify with who is onscreen, you just turn it off. Flipping the narrative lets folks who don’t normally identify with these characters empathise with them. Through empathy, you can get change,” she explains.
BEHIND THE DOOR
While looking into cop Joshua Beck’s (Tristan Wilds) shooting of white stu-
dent Jess Carr in episode 1, the Justice Department also finds evidence that a previous killing – of black man named Joey Campbell (Kelvin Harrison Junior) – has been covered up. And that can of worms about how differently the killings are treated spills out over the 10 episodes. “In dealing with the murders, we were able to tackle the way that the community, media, law enforcement and justice system deal with cases based on race,” says Gina.
The cases affect everyone in town, rich or poor, black or white. Special Investigators Akino and Terry (Sanaa Lathan and Stephan James) find out that everyone has an agenda. But for our money, it’s the dead boys’ griefstricken moms Shameeka Campbell and Alicia Carr (DeWanda Wise and Jill Hennessy) whose performances tell the real story. “The nature, where its real-life aspects are so heartbreaking, is that it heightens the emotions for every character,” says Gina. “These women would’ve never crossed paths but are suddenly members of a club that no one wants to be in. Their story and truth felt real to us.”
Pastor Janae James (Aisha Hinds) meets the press following the shooting.