Police Killing Unarmed Minority Men on Video with Impunity is not New
The grand jury’s decision to not indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner despite video of the incident, in the wake of the failure to indict Darren Wilson, further illustrates the apparent immunity of police officers in cases where officers have killed ethnic minority Americans. The Garner case is a reminder that the interpretation of (crime) videos is filtered through pre-existing cultural lenses, but it also speaks to a more fundamental problem. The case provides more evidence that video has not been a panacea in addressing lethal violence by police officers, a fact which is relevant in discussing the likely efficacy of cop cams. I have posted other similar disturbing videos of lethal force being used against unarmed ethnic minority men (after the jump) wherein there has been no accountability in the criminal justice system for the officers involved.
From the Chicago subway, an officer shot and killed an unarmed man at point blank range:
Officer Weems was never charged and received only a 30-day suspension.
More recently from the Windy City, two officers had guns trained on an unarmed man before one shot him:
That case is still under administrative review.
In Oklahoma, officers killed Luis Rodriguez after he refused to provide identification to the police:
Like Garner, Rodriguez’s last words were that he couldn’t breathe. The District Attorney cleared the officers of wrongdoing.
Police shot and killed Ernesto Duenez Jr. after attempting to confront him for a parole violation:
Police said that Ernesto was pulling out a “large knife,” but the only knife found at the scene was in the truck bed.
In Arizona, police shot an unarmed man in the back while his arms were raised in the air:
Police reports made no mention of his hands being up and the officer was cleared of wrongdoing.
In Georgia, police shot and killed Kenneth Brian Walker during a traffic stop while he was on the ground in custody:
The police believed Walker was a drug dealer, but no evidence was found to support that claim. The grand jury did not indict the officer who shot Walker.
The above cases are a just a sample of the unusual instances where video was recorded (and made public) during the use of lethal force by the police. Without such evidence, the odds of indictment are likely even less (if that is possible). The mentally ill and homeless have also proven to be populations vulnerable to police shootings with no criminal liability for the police. There are more videos out there, including the well-known case involving the death of Oscar Grant on the BART train, but the videos above give a small window into the problem of police unjustifiably using lethal violence against minority populations.
Update (7/6/2016): I changed one of the video links which no longer worked in light of the recent shooting of Alton Sterling. I’m still looking for a link to the other missing video.