I watched with disbelief and interest, among other feelings, as another all-too-familiar scenario played out on the CBS Evening News. That was late last month.
It was another police shooting of another Black man, down in Columbia, South Carolina, which was recorded on the dashboard camera of a South Carolina State Trooper as he did what White policemen in America seemingly do with frequency and impunity. The incident apparently happened on September 4 as he pulled into a convenience store.
One headline read “[…] Allegedly Unarmed Driver.” There was nothing “alleged” about what anyone watching the news that evening, September 24, witnessed. It showed the Black driver being shot after he was followed into a convenience store/gas station parking by the trooper for a “seatbelt offense.”
So we see the Black driver exiting his van and then trooper walking towards him – ready for action – and ordering him to get his license. The man complied. Now he’s heading back to hand his “license” to the officer when he squeezed off a few caps – about four from what I heard – hitting him in the leg a couple times. And there’s the ‘brother’ in one sequence his hands in the air (not dancing, surrendering), asking the trooper, “Why did you shoot me?” He was only doing as the officer ordered, poor fellow. Which is what he told the policeman.
Poor innocent Black guy! Just doing as ordered. Good thing the Dashboard Videocam was rolling.
Which is why the blue wall went up, and in defense of its members, the officer’s handlers came up with the old used trite excuse that “the officer thought his life was in danger…” How many times have we heard that one? And ninety-nine percent of the time it worked [works for the shooters…].
But that trooper ran out of luck; the dashboard video captured the whole incident. And because the evidence was irrefutable, the trooper now former) was promptly fired by his boss. Thank God for the dash cam. The state Public Safety Director called the video “disturbing.” And continued that the officer “…reacted to a perceived threat where there was none…”
But the trooper’s lawyer wasn’t having any of it. He said, “[…] the shooting was justified because…” standard excuse “…the trooper feared for his life and the safety of others…”
“You are doing exactly what the asked you to do and you get shot for it, ”
This time a recorded CBS news story) as another Black man was shot by a police. In this ‘other one’ there was no confrontation. The policeman was doing his job, but he went much too far in executing his functions. Thank God he did; the victim could’ve been dead, but he got lucky; in fact it was his lucky day.
Last I heard, the victim, who was shot in the hip (I’m surprised he wasn’t hit more than once), released a statement, which states that he “hopes his shooting leads to changes in how police officers treat suspects…”
I wonder if he realizes that using that word “suspects” is a wrong choice. Some people will extrapolate from that that he was a suspect in a crime, when all he was accused of by his shooter was not wearing a seatbelt. It was more a case of DWB, and that White police predisposition for seeing Black men through historically stereotypical eyes.
But that state trooper is in trouble. Among others, he has been charged with “assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature…” which carries up to 20 years in prison…” I watched him in a courtroom/jail cell in an orange overall/jumpsuit. He looked scared as hell, like a caged animal in captivity. It was a sort of “role reversal image.”
And the Black victim continued, “[…] I thank God everyday that I am here with a story to tell and hope my situation can make a change…”
You better not wait for that “change”; you know that White police have been shooting Black people, especially males (in your part of the world it’s a daily occurrence) since yesteryear. There probably will be another one today, tomorrow, and the day after. Some of them – like your near miss – we’ll hear about; most of the shootings/killings won’t even make the news.
Sir, you’re just another lucky Black male shooting victim, who came in contact either with a compassionate White policeman or one who couldn’t shoot straight. If you were dead, Black and other concerned, angry (over police shootings) people would be again asking that old question we hear whenever another White police shoots another Black male or other visible minority, or someone perceived as a social outcast: “couldn’t they shoot him in his leg?”
Think what you like, that South Carolina shooting smacks of “race/racism,” much like Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Mo.; and that other young Black male who, during the Ferguson protests, dared police to “shoot me”; they complied. Also, Eric (“I can’t breathe”) Garner’s chokehold murder by a gang of police on a Staten Island, N.Y., sidewalk, for allegedly selling… no, not crack, weed, hash, meth… but “loose cigarettes,” according to media reports.
And remember the February 2012 fatal shooting in Florida of Trayvon Martin by self-described neighborhood watchman/wannabe policeman, George Zimmerman, and his subsequent trial. A good defense attorney, and some contend, a biased jury, managed to find him [“not guilty”].
Which is why, bloated with confidence, and feeling empowered by the string of “not guilty” ‘White on Black fatal shooting verdicts’, Michael Dunn thought his was a slam dunk case in the so-called “Loud Music Trial” (guess he didn’t like young people music) for his 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida. He thought by digging into the bag of historical white triteness “[…] felt threatened…life was in danger” and so on], his trial would be a mere formality, ending with a “not guilty” verdict and he would walk…
No one could’ve been more surprised and devastated than Dunn (and his supporters) when the verdict came back a couple weeks ago: guilty of first-degree murder! He will be spending some long quality time behind bars.
It’s a reminder that Black lives have value too. Never mind that ole “Black-on-Black” crime cliché; statistics show that there’re more white-on-white killings in America. But it doesn’t matter who’s doing the killing, or who is being killed; all cases have to be treated fairly and justly.
Despite Dunn’s guilty verdict, many Black Americans think Dunn should have been convicted for Davis’s death rather than for the attempted murder of the three survivors of the shooting. So, yes, although he was found guilty, Dunn still got a break.
It’s like hunting season, with racial under/overtones, White police and ordinary people killing Black males, thinking it’s the norm and acceptable. And the list of police shooting deaths of Black men is endless, and continuing… And they are happening daily; a few manage to slip through the media cracks and make the [inter]national news, as a way of reminding us that we’re easy prey… Just visit that global media-leveling field, the Internet. If the mainstream media doesn’t report it, try the www.
And I watched another news item on CBS news the evening of Tuesday, October 7. It happened in Hammond, Indiana. You might’ve seen it. No one was shot; but over-zealous police could’ve killed the Black gentleman (the passenger, on his way to the hospital apparently to see his dying mother). The driver was his partner, with two children in the back seat. The car was pulled over and a long conversation ensued between – you guessed it – the man and the police.
The police did the next best thing to pumping some led into him. An aggressive one smashed the car window, tasered the man and dragged him out of the car…
By the way the Hammond police did draw their real weapons on the family because… “[…]feared for our lives…”
And the department supported them, in a statement, “The Hammond police officers were at all times acting in the interest of officer safety and in accordance with Indiana law…”
Yes! They’re suing…