Son begins at a harrowing moment: audio recordings of emergency calls and footage from police cameras recording the shooting of Detective Sean Sweater. We see a man reviving a sweater shot in the head while on duty. His partner that day, Det.
David Bomenka, panicked and gasping for air, recounted what he had seen and heard: two shots, pause, a third shot, a man in a black jacket fleeing. The Sweater is a 43-year-old Baltimore Police Department veteran. He served in the army and was married to Nicole Sweater for 17 years and is a grandfather.
He is described as a kind and sincere man with a good sense of humour and received a “hero’s funeral”. His death also shook his whole family and friends, also the police, and the city.
But how and why are they annoying. The evidence is unclear and inconclusive.
The context – well, the context is indicative. Or maybe it just obscures the water even more. The Baltimore Police Department was embroiled in a corruption scandal in which eight officers were indicted on several charges, including theft and distribution of illegal drugs and extortion.
And Grand Jury Sweater’s testimony was scheduled for the day after his death. It turned out that he had ties to the Hot Seat Cops and served with several of them in a unit called the Arms Tracking Task Force. Do sweaters have a dark side? Did the dirty cop hit him? Or did the opportunity to testify against other officers prompt him to commit suicide, another theory the physical evidence suggests? The Occam razor seems to be missing in this situation.
However, both theories face many complications. Journalists and politicians say the Baltimore police force is indelible, historically corrupt and incompetent. The crime scene at the crime scene is negligent, and the position of the commissioner is a revolving door.
Residents in the neighbourhood where the crime occurred complained of the blockade and brutal abuses while emergency services searched for evidence and suspects.
An incident in 2010 involving Sweater and other members of the task force resulted in the illegal detention of two men. Weeks, months, years passed without a decision, and very few of those details added to the man that Sweater’s grieving wife, children, and friends knew.
Baltimore-born journalist and writer D. Watkins offer The Slow Hustle an invaluable contextual commentary. This kind cuts through many of the complications of history and gives it a moral and factual basis. (He’s a charming man who probably deserves his biography.)
With The Slow Hustle, Sohn also combines the elements from two of today’s most famous documentary subgenres;
Actual crime and social justice rob them of apparent cliches and sentiments and compose a compelling and engaging story. Suiter’s case is complex on all fronts.
Still, Sohn demonstrates the experience of an experienced journalist who conveys insightful detail – even those that contradict others – and engages multiple voices without losing clarity. The use of reconstruction remains at the crime scene with caution and consideration; the choice of people you interview with the head speaker is the same as your editorial team.
With Sweater Son’s death, he finds a new way to explore two related tragedies: unsolved crime and systemic corruption. The film claims that the two go hand in hand in this respect. The rotten culture of the Baltimore police force – which is unbelievable, Watkins and many others say – has left Sweater’s death undetected, whether he died evilly or not.
It’s a frustrating situation where the more questions are asked, the more evidence is revealed, the more voices join the fight, the blurrier the picture becomes. Son brings up ideas about what causes and encourages corruption, conspiracy, why people seek graduation when uncertainty is the norm.
This is a complex and sometimes hopeless watch; The kid is wise not to be in a straight line. But the Sweater family’s ongoing pursuit of something like justice and truth is optimistic enough to make Hope the hero of this story as well.