Car Jacked!!! (DVD Extra)
For me, bringing my white chick feminist self into the projects was really an act of faith in the Universe, in Half and in racism. I assumed that by virtue of my skin color, my gender and the fact that I was a filmmaker, that I was somewhat less likely to be shot at than the guys I was working with. And that assumption had been somewhat confirmed when we were robbed in Brownsville and my white cinematographer survived the 9mm pressed to his temple.
Half had juice in the Albany Housing Projects, so we hoped we’d be safer. Everyone knew him. Most people thought he was special, from what I could tell. It was understood he was a good rapper with a record deal. He had respect. He also lived in an area where there were a lot of Bloods that were watching his back—so they watched mine too. Not that that was enough for me in terms of safety, it truly wasn’t. I took seriously Pikasoe’s statement that it was his responsibility to carry a gun. And mine too.
I didn’t own a gun or even know how to shoot one, but felt I needed someone with me who had one, while we were in this dangerous neighborhood. The first person I brought in with a gun was the cinematographer who shot the Stairwell Interview. After that was completed, which took a couple of days, I ended up getting real security to be with me for the duration of the film. Shelby Oliver. My good friend. He was a licensed bounty hunter, bouncer and freelance security guard, and invariably he had an employee working with him. Sometimes it was E, Trent, Keith or Chief Hall, but every time we went in to follow Half through his daily life, I felt a little bit safer.
That is until the morning Shelby called to say he couldn’t come get me because he was on his way to the hospital to see his closest friend T, who’d been car jacked. I’d been having weird feelings all morning, and my crew was at my house ready to roll into Brooklyn and I got scared. I kept thinking, it didn’t make sense to go to Albany without security, so I rethought my plan, called Shelby back, and me and my crew headed to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, where we smuggled our equipment into the hospital to interview T.
Shelby went into the intensive care unit first to make sure it was ok with T if I interviewed him. We were told he’d been shot five times, and he might not make it. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but if the roles were reversed and a black man wanted to interview me when I was possibly dying, not looking my best and having never met the person, I’d say Hell NO! But for whatever reason, T’d heard a lot about me and wanted to do it. So we creeped in, pulled the camera just barely out of it’s bag and started shooting, while he wheezed his story out through a breathing tube, with the heart monitor alarm intermittently issuing a high pitched beep. I was in terror that our camera or sound package was going to interfere with his life support equipment. Needless to say, it was a short interview, between my fear of killing him and having never seen anyone who’d been shot before, I really wanted out of there.
T’d been followed from Brooklyn to Manhattan by three young black men in their late teens, who he’d never seen before, but apparently wanted his jeep at any cost. The first shot was in his face, when he accidentally spun his car all the way around after he realized he was about to be car jacked. Another shot went through his body and out his arm, and he just kept driving and spinning thinking his teeth had been shot out of his head. Next thing he knew he was on his back looking up and there were cops and EMT’s all over the place. Thank God the kids had followed him to Manhattan, or he might not have survived the shooting.
But he did survive, and felt no animosity for the shooter or his friends. He said he could see the innocence in the boys face right before he shot him the first time, and that he understands where they’re coming from. Probably not having anything from the time they were very young, but he’s sad about young black men killing other black men. Or at least trying to. I’m sad about it too.
Shelby was less forgiving, but said he hadn’t been shot yet, so didn’t know how he would react. As far as I know, T healed up pretty well and is leading a normal life in Brooklyn today.