McEachin and Wade met in a debate on Thursday night, and one moment from their session has drawn national attention.
It came during a question about the ongoing turbulence between law enforcement and African American communities. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, McEachin, who is black, answered first, describing his own experience with racial profiling, and voicing support for police bias training and body cameras.
Then Wade, who is himself a sheriff, answered.
“We always talk about the police officer as being the one that’s wrong in these situations,” he began. “Some of ’em are wrong, no doubt, but some of ’em are right.”
He described the anxiety he had felt in situations where, as a law enforcement officer, he’d had to pull his firearm on a suspect, and stated bluntly that “I think the greater problem in this area is the problem we have in this country of mental health and substance abuse,”
It’s not the worst point. A 2015 report from the Washington Post claimed that fully one quarter of the people shot by police that year were “in the throes of mental or emotional crisis.” It’s a significant problem, and one with which law enforcement continues to struggle.
But Wade wasn’t finished.
“You gotta look at the whole problem, not just the police officer and the gun,” he explained. “You know, the majority of those people in these situations that are shot are on the way to jail.”
Never mind that Wade didn’t expand upon his claim with any statistical data. The fact that someone may or may not be on their way to jail has zero direct bearing on whether or not they deserve to be shot by law enforcement.
“I am absolutely stunned,” McEachin replied. “I cannot believe I just heard you say that the people who have gotten shot were on their way to jail anyway. You know, [Philando Castile,] the man who was shot in Minnesota with a broken taillight, was NOT on his way to jail.”
You can listen to their entire exchange below.
According to electionprojection.com, Wade is trailing his democratic opponent by nearly 15 points.