Black males and the cops who kill them
Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown have something in common: All were unarmed African American males killed by police officers. Now, we are learning that the cops who killed them have something in common. Either they or the department they worked for had serious problems. That these men were still given a gun and badge and were in a position to take the life of a black male without being held accountable is what’s rubbing the nerves raw of African Americans, all Americans.
Daniel Pantaleo killed Garner with a chokehold caught on video last July. The death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. The grand jury opted not to indict him. The Daily News and the Staten Island Advance have reported on two lawsuits involving Pantaleo and racially motivated conduct. A 2012 suit involved two black men who alleged their testicles were “tapped” during an out-in-the-open strip search. According to the Daily News, the allegations were “deemed unsubstantiated — it could not be proven or disproven….” Each accuser got $15,000 when the case was settled out of court. The charges against them were dropped.
Another suit against Pantaleo is still pending. According to a July 20 story in The Advance, Rylawn Walker “accuses Pantaleo of arresting him on Feb. 16, 2012 even though he was ‘committing no crime at that time and was not acting in a suspicious manner.``
Undated photo of Tamir Rice provided by his family’s attorney. (Courtesy of Richardson & Kucharski Co. L.P.A./AP)
Timothy A. Loehmann is the Cleveland police officer who killed Rice in a Cleveland park on Nov. 22. The video shows that the police cruiser had barely stopped and Loehmann was barely out of the car before he shot Tamir dead. Now comes word that Loehmann resigned from his last police job because his supervisor recommended he dismissed because, “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.” Issues with a girlfriend were part of the problem. According to NBC News, the deputy chief “cited a report from a firearms instructor who said Loehmann showed up for training ‘distracted,’ ‘weepy’ and unable to ‘communicate clear thoughts,’ as a result of which ‘his handgun performance was dismal.’” Oh, the irony.
And then there is Darren Wilson, the unindicted killer of Brown. As The Post reported last August, in his job before joining the Ferguson, Mo., police force, “Wilson kept a clean record without any disciplinary action.” But that force in Jennings, Mo., was so bad the city council disbanded it in 2011. Jennings is 89 percent African American. A city council member told The Post that there were “one or two black members on the force” of 45 employees. Wilson was among the officers let go.
“What [Wilson] found in Jennings…was a mainly white department mired in controversy and notorious for its fraught relationship with residents, especially the African American majority,” The Post story notes. “It was not an ideal place to learn.” Perhaps this informed the guilt-by-association mindset he revealed at the grand jury looking into his killing of Brown.
“It’s really bad when I’m overseas and more worried about your safety,” a white American friend who is working in the Middle East wrote in an instant message this morning. Then, in one line, he articulated what African Americans have known for a long time: “Cops have more influence over the administration of your constitutional rights than any judge or elected official… [not to mention] your life.” The only bright side to the horror of the past seven days is that more and more white people see that “black lives matter.”