UPDATE 1.15.09 – Please add Robbie Tolan (African-American) to the list of “questionable police shootings” below. Sitting in a car IN HIS OWN DRIVEWAY, accused of “stealing it,” shot in response. As it turns out, he’s a professional baseball player on the minor league level. Also a New Year’s Eve shooting.
If you’ve ever sincerely wondered why there has been a historical distrust of law enforcement by African-Americans, let the recent murder of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on New Year’s day best explain the rift in shorthand form.
Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was arrested Tuesday for the murder of Grant. Grant was shot once in the back while being detained by Mehserle and other officers who responded to complaints of a fight aboard a BART train in San Francisco, CA.
According to witness testimony and cellphone video at the scene, during Grant’s detainment by officers he struggled (while face-down) to which Mehserle responded by withdrawing his gun from the holster. He fired one shot into Grant’s back killing him at the scene.
Subsequent to the incident, Mehserle refused to discuss the incident with department investigators and resigned his position. Tuesday he was booked on suspicion of murder. Those are the facts. The nuances will be argued in court.
Another unarmed African-American man has been killed by law enforcement. Note, I didn’t not specify “White” law enforcement. The ethnicity of the officers is largely irrelevant; although in this incident Grant was Black and Mehserle is in fact White. History is replete with all types of “incidents” irrespective of the color of the law enforcement officer in question, the LAPD Rampart scandal illustrates this point clearly.
For whatever reasons, there isn’t the prevalence of these “tragic misunderstandings” involving the death of White unarmed citizens. Here’s just a short list of unarmed African-Americans who’ve been killed by police in recent years.
Gary King Jr. 20 – (killed by) Oakland Police Department – shot twice in back
Devin Brown 13 – LAPD – shot while joyriding
Sean Bell 23 – NYPD – died in hail of 50 bullets by multiple officers
Nathaniel Jones 41 – Cincinnati PD – beaten to death by 6 officers.
Unnamed man – Baltimore PD – shot to death
Unnamed teenager – Inglewood PD – shot to death
Timothy Thomas 19 – Cincinnati PD – shot in an alley
The previous individuals are only a short list of “questionable” murders of unarmed men this decade. No, not all of the aforementioned were angels but the use of deadly force in each and every one of the incidents was highly, highly questionable.
While conducting a search of unarmed Caucasian men killed by police I could not readily find any…this decade or otherwise. If a reader should come across one or more, please email me accordingly and I will update this editorial to reflect their inclusion.
Take your time…I’m here all day.
Some in the African-American community would wrongly use this editorial to further justify the criminal “stop snitchin’” phenomenon. It would be wrong and misguided to do so. At the same time, if an African-American male expresses an innate distrust of law enforcement, to the point of fear for his life…know it’s not racial paranoia. It’s legitimate and verifiable. And that’s coming from someone who too was “almost” shot by law enforcement…while sitting quietly as a passenger in my mother’s car in broad daylight at age 13. The bank my mother was in was being robbed. The Torrance police department responded accordingly.
Torrance police assumed the bankrobber was African-American and clearly an adolescent. I twitch, I die. Fortunately, I did not and am here to relay the story and not become one of many.
Unfortunately, the bank robbers were both ADULT and not African-American.
The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant; published weekly at www.eurweb.com. It is meant to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse…as well as entertain. The Mo’Kelly Report is syndicated by Newstex and Blogburst. For more Mo’Kelly, http://www.MrMoKelly.com.
Morris W. O’Kelly can be reached at Mo@MrMoKelly.com and he welcomes all commentary.