Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain handled the case of the Atlantic City police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Derreck Mack by the book.

The Prosecutor's Office conducted a careful investigation. McClain himself presented the case to a grand jury. And the grand jury ruled that the shooting was justified.

End of story.

Except, of course, it is not.

Deputy Police Chief Henry White got it right when he said, "I want to just emphasize there are no winners here. This tragic incident has taken a severe toll on the Mack family, on our officer's family, and it's taken a toll on the entire Atlantic City Police Department."

These things are never easy - for anyone. But facts are facts. And between the prosecutor's careful re-enactment of the shooting, a report by an independent expert hired by the Prosecutor's Office to review the evidence, and the testimony of several witnesses - including civilians and law-enforcement personnel - it's clear the officer acted appropriately.

We understand that not everyone who lives at Stanley Holmes Village, where the Dec. 17 shooting occurred, sees it that way. We understand the emotions involved. To be black in America today means that you do not necessarily see the police as your friend. Racial profiling is real - and hurtful to many African-Americans.

But when a Stanley Holmes resident said of the unnamed officer who shot Mack, "Clearly, he murdered a child in broad daylight and got away with it" - well, with all due respect, that's just not fair or true.

At the time of the shooting, Derreck Mack was under surveillance by local and federal officers investigating the Dirty Blok drug gang.

He was seen dealing drugs.

He was seen with a gun in his hand.

He ran when approached by police.

And then, tragically, he slowed, raised his left hand, but kept his right hand, with the gun in it, at his waist.


You have less than a second. What would you do?

Wait for him to fire first?

The investigation subsequently determined that the .45 caliber handgun Mack was holding was loaded and had a round in the chamber. As McClain said, citing the report by the independent expert, "The officer's use of deadly force was not only justified, but (he) had no other reasonable course of action at the time."

And a grand jury agreed.

Sometimes bad things happen.

And when you sell drugs, carry a loaded gun, run from the police with the gun in your hand and refuse to drop the weapon ... you bear the responsibility for what happens next.