FOLLMER: “You know, there’s a video of this, and everything speaks for itself. The male’s action spoke for itself. The video clearly shows, and by the officers’ statement, that they were justified in the, in the deadly force.”
MELBER: “You’re saying that the video clearly shows that the 12-year-old boy was an imminent lethal threat to the officers?”
FOLLMER: “Oh, absolutely. I don’t know if you didn’t see it, but yeah absolutely.”
So in 1994, I joined the St. Louis Police Department. I quickly realized how naive I’d been. I was floored by the dysfunctional culture I encountered.
I won’t say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist.
One example: A couple of officers ran a Web site called St. Louis Coptalk, where officers could post about their experience and opinions. At some point during my career, it became so full of racist rants that the site administrator temporarily shut it down. Cops routinely called anyone of color a “thug,” whether they were the victim or just a bystander.
Unfortunately, I don’t think better training alone will reduce police brutality. My fellow officers and I took plenty of classes on racial sensitivity and on limiting the use of force.
The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police.
Even when officers get caught, they know they’ll be investigated by their friends, and put on paid leave. My colleagues would laughingly refer to this as a free vacation. It isn’t a punishment. And excessive force is almost always deemed acceptable in our courts and among our grand juries. Prosecutors are tight with law enforcement, and share the same values and ideas.
My emphasis added.
Policing in America is not broken. The judicial system is not broken. American society is not broken. All are functioning perfectly, doing exactly what they have done since before some of this nation’s most prosperous slave-murdering robber-barons came together to consecrate into statehood the mechanisms of their barbarism. Democracy functions. Politicians, deriving their legitimacy from the public, have discerned the will of the people and used it to design and enact policies that carry it out, among them those that govern the allowable levels of violence which state can visit upon citizen. Taken together with the myriad other indignities, thefts, and cruelties it visits upon black and brown people, and the work common white Americans do on its behalf by telling themselves bald fictions of some deep and true America of apple pies, Jesus, and people being neighborly to each other and betrayed by those few and nonrepresentative bad apples with their isolated acts of meanness, the public will demands and enables a whirring and efficient machine that does what it does for the benefit of those who own it. It processes black and brown bodies into white power.
That is what America does. It is not broken. That is exactly what is wrong with it.
A Nov. 29, 2012 letter contained in Tim Loehmann’s personnel file from the Independence Police Department says that during firearms qualification training he was “distracted” and “weepy.”
“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” according to the letter written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police.
The letter recommended that the department part ways with Loehmann, who went on to become a police officer with the Cleveland Division of Police.
“I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies,” Polak said.
Barak Ariel, a criminologist at the University of Cambridge, isn’t so sure about body cameras, either.
The technology is “surely promising, but we don’t know that it’s working,” Ariel told me. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve drugs until they’ve been studied extensively, he explained, and governments should take a similar approach with body-worn cameras. It’s a solution that has yet to be proven.
The results in Rialto have been cited in the media as proof that police body cameras work. But Rialto isn’t reproducible the world over. As Ariel and his fellow researchers note, the city’s police department is relatively small, and the police chief directly oversaw the experiment. Likewise, success in the U.K., where one person was killed by police in 2012, doesn’t necessarily translate to success in the U.S., where at least 410 people were killed by police that same year.
Too bad police unions don’t get held to the same standards or receive the same criticisms and scrutiny as teachers’ unions.
Society entrusts police officers with awesome power. The stakes could not be higher when they abuse it: Innocents are killed, wrongly imprisoned, beaten, harassed—and as knowledge of such abuses spreads, respect for the rule of law wanes.
Police say two officers were conducting a “vertical patrol” in the Pink Houses complex in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Bratton said one officer, reportedly with 18 months’ experience on the job, appeared to have accidentally fired on a darkened stairwell between the seventh and eighth floors.
The NYPD really needs to clarify exactly what happened and what it means by saying that the officer accidentally fired. Firing your weapon in a darkened stairway because you’re scared shitless, inexperienced and possibly poorly trained doesn’t qualify as accidental to me. To be clear, I don’t know what happened but the above description is my best guess based on the information released so far.
Between 2009 and 2013, more than 75 percent of police shooting victims in Chicago were black, even though African-Americans in Chicago are only about 33 percent of the population. In the first half of 2014, 23 of 27 police shooting victims were black. Taser use is similarly disproportionate: 92 percent of police use of tasers was directed at black or Latino targets. And while tasers are supposed to be a safe form of restraint, they can kill. In May, 23-year-old Dominic “Damo” Williams was tasered after allegedly stealing a bottle of liquor from a Walgreens. He died in the hospital.
While the UN may know Damo’s name, the rest of Chicago and the U.S. remain largely ignorant of his death. Michael Brown’s family also testified last week before the UN Committee against Torture, but most news reports have not mentioned the presence of We Charge Genocide. Even Chicago media has been mostly silent—the Tribune, the Sun-Times, and the Reader do not have a single article on We Charge Genocide between them, as far as I could find.
No doubt all these outlets and more will hurry to cover the Michael Brown grand jury decision, which could come as early as Monday. But that decision, no matter what it is, can only be understood in the context that We Charge Genocide provides. Their report makes clear that Mike’s Brown’s death wasn’t unique. It’s part of a routine of violence, only unusual in that the media and the public happened to have noticed. Black youth like Michael Brown, Roshad McIntosh, and Dominic Williams are dying all the time in America. We Charge Genocide wants the world to know their names.
My emphasis added.
Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts - 21 times greater i, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.
The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.
One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica’s analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring - 185, more than one per week.
ProPublica’s risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.
I never would have guessed.
And here’s a perfect example of what I was talking about in my previous page. The assumption is that this 35 year old man couldn’t have legitimately earned the money he was carrying. A 14 year old with $1,300 in cash I could understand but a grown man?
The video is very short and what happened before might shed a different light on things. But we do see the officer take the money, slap the man, pepper spray the man, and pepper spray his sister. If the man had been violent toward the cop wouldn’t other officers on the scene have intervened?
The Brooklyn district attorney’s office is investigating allegations that an NYPD cop swiped more than $1,000 from a man during a stop-and-frisk, then pepper-sprayed him and his sister when they complained, the Daily News has learned.
The encounter was captured on a cell phone video, which has been turned over to prosecutors and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau.
“One of the most disturbing things about the video is the other cops standing around watching and doing nothing to stop the wrongdoing,” lawyer Robert Marinelli said Wednesday.
Marinelli represents the siblings who were pepper-sprayed — Lamard Joye, who claims the cop took $1,300 from his pocket, money that has still not been accounted for, and his sister Lateefah Joye, a professional basketball player in Europe, who tried to get the cop’s badge number.
“I believe that this officer made an assumption that any money Mr. Joye possessed was obtained illegally and therefore he would not report the theft. This assumption was wrong. Mr. Joye is a hardworking taxpayer deserving respect,” said Marinelli.