Fuck Your Breath: Casualties of the Deadly Intersection of Black and Blue

ON JULY 17, 2014, Officer Daniel Panteleo took down Eric Garner in what appeared on cellphone video to be an illegal chokehold. Garner, 43, complained of not being able to breathe eleven times before becoming unresponsive. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. His last words, “I Can’t Breathe,” along with “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” (from the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo.) became the rallying cry for a movement determined to seek justice for unarmed civilians, a disproportionate number of them African-American, who are killed by police each year.

Nine months later, Eric Harris, caught in a sting operation selling an illegal handgun to undercover officers, was shot in the back by Reserve Deputy Robert C. Bates as he was being subdued by the other policemen. As Harris lay dying he too complained of not being able to breathe. Officer Joseph Byars—continuing to pin Harris down—replied: “Fuck your breath!” His callous statement to a dying, unarmed man seemed to sum up what the “Black Lives Matter” movement had been proclaiming all along: Black lives and black breath mean nothing to blue.

In 1985, the Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner ruled that a police officer can only use deadly force when pursuing a fleeing suspect if “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” However, in cases where suspects were fleeing or unarmed (or both), law enforcement officers who have nonetheless used deadly force have rarely been charged, and as we shall see from the sample case studies in this report, even when indicted—as six officers have been in Baltimore in the death of Freddie Gray—they are rarely convicted.

In 2014 over 100 unarmed African-Americans were killed by police. Young black males are 21 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than young white males. Those who are mentally ill count for approximately one-half of deaths caused by police according to a 2012 study. Although certainly not all unarmed, the count for police-inflicted deaths for 2015 as of this writing stands at 400. But none of these numbers paint a complete picture of the problem. There is no governmental agency in charge of collecting, collating and analyzing police kills; data is piecemeal and haphazard at best. A Congressional mandate to the Attorney General in 1994 to assemble and publish this data has never been carried out, nor does the Federal Bureau of Investigation keep such records.

At the beginning of December 2014, President Obama pledged $263 million in federal grants to police stations for the purpose of purchasing body cameras and providing additional training for police officers in the use of deadly force. While many feel that the addition of body cameras may curb some police brutality, others fear it may not go far enough. Capturing acts of excessive force on film has rarely lead to a conviction or even an indictment.

Below is a small sample of the #hashtags and deceased poster children—in some instances, they are actual children—of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the case of many of these victims, families and communities are still waiting for justice. And yes, they are holding their breath.

 ~

 

Victim: Freddie Gray                                 

Age: 25     

Detained/Arrested for: Making eye contact with policeman then running

Killer: Officers Brian Rice, Cesar Goodson, Jr.. Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, Alicia White, William Porter                                                      

Date: April 19, 2015              

Location: Baltimore, Md.

Video: Yes                                                  

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: 80% severed spine

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Police asserted that Gray eyeballed them and then took off running. They stated they noticed a switchblade knife in his shirt pocket and gave pursuit, catching and arresting him for possession of the knife. Video taken by a citizen with a cellphone shows Gray screaming that they were hurting his back and that he couldn’t breathe. Gray had to be dragged to the paddy wagon by two officers as he was incapable of walking. He was then placed, unsecured by seatbelts, in the back of the wagon. The transport vehicle took 40 minutes to reach the police station, making several stops along the way. When Gray finally made it there he was unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital where he expired a week later. Public outcry over Gray’s treatment while in custody led to protests and riots in Baltimore. Other cities such as Philadelphia, Oakland and Dallas also protested in solidarity. The investigation showed that Gray was illegally stopped and that the knife the officers claimed initiated the pursuit was not illegal to possess.   

~

Victim: Walter Scott

Age: 50

Detained/Arrested for: Broken tail-light/Bench warrant for child support

Killer: Officer Michael Slager

Date: April 4, 2015

Location: North Charleston, S.C.

Video: Yes

Victim armed: No

Method of Death: Shot three times in back while fleeing

Charges brought against officer: First Degree Murder

Details: Officer Slager contended that Scott had taken his Taser and he feared for his life. Slager proceeded to fire six shots at a fleeing Scott, shooting him three times in the back. Officer was videotaped dropping Taser next to deceased victim in the presence of another officer. Officer Slager laughed and joked on police radio when reporting the shooting that his “adrenaline was pumping.”

  ~

Victim: Justus Howell

Age: 17

Detained/Arrested for: Trying to purchase an illegal firearm

Killer: Officer name not released

Date: April 4, 2015

Location: Zion, Ill.

Video: No

Victim Armed: Yes

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Justus was running from police when the officer in pursuit spotted what he believed was a gun. He proceeded to fire two shots, hitting Howell in the back. Police state that a handgun was recovered at the scene. The officer involved in this shooting has not been identified.

  ~

Victim: Eric Harris

Age: 44

Detained/Arrested for: Selling illegal firearms

Killer: Reserve Deputy Robert C. Bates

Date: April 2, 2015

Location: Tulsa, Okla.

Video: Yes

Victim armed: No

Method of Death: Shot in back while fleeing

Charges brought against officer: Second Degree Manslaughter

Details: Reserve Deputy Bates stated that he intended to employ a Taser but fired his .38 revolver instead. Harris was already being subdued by three officers when Bates shot him. One officer, Joseph Byars, upon Harris stating that he was shot and couldn’t breathe, responded: “Fuck your breath.” Investigation into the incident showed that Deputy Bates did not have proper clearance or certification to be carrying a handgun. The sidearm was his own personal weapon. Bates had served as the chairman of the current sheriff’s election campaign and had donated a vehicle and equipment to the sheriff’s office.

  ~

Victim: Phillip White                                  

Age: 32     

Detained/Arrested for: Erratic behavior/disorderly conduct

Killer: Officers Louis Platania and Richard Janasiak                                

Date: March 31, 2015           

Location: Vineland, N.J.

Video: Yes                                                  

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Beaten unconscious, mauled by K9

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: Police were summoned for a man acting erratically. White was arrested and handcuffed. Reports vary among witnesses, with one witness telling the local newspaper that White resisted arrest, while two other witnesses asserted that the police officers attacked White after he was handcuffed. These two witnesses stated that White was stumped and punched by police until he was unconscious and then the K-9 was let out of the police car with Officer Platania telling the dog to “Come! Get ‘em! Get ‘em!” while he had White pinned to the ground. They stated that the German Shepherd bit White in the face and about the body while one of the officers continued punching him. White was then taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The entire event was captured on cellphone video which the officers later tried to confiscate.

 ~

Victim: Natasha McKenna                        

Age: 37     

Detained/Arrested for: Incarcerated for allegedly punching an officer

Killer: Officer names not released                                                  

Date: February 3, 2015         

Location: Fairfax County, Va.

Video: Yes                                                  

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Repeated stunning with a Taser while restrained

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Incarcerated in the Fairfax Adult Detention Center since January 2015, McKenna, who was the mentally ill mother of a young child and known by her jailers to be combative, was being extracted to be taken to another facility in Alexandria, Va. She was 5’3″ and too thin to be properly constrained by the belts in the restraining chair and was secured by being handcuffed behind her back, shackled at the ankles and having the two restraints connected by a “ripp hobble strap.” After being restrained she was then Tasered four times and her face was also covered by a spit mask. McKenna’s heart stopped beating within minutes of being Tasered and she was taken to the hospital and resuscitated where she expired on February 8. Her last words were, “You said you wouldn’t hurt me this time.” Due to McKenna’s death, Fairfax County Adult Detention Center has discontinued the use of Tasers on restrained inmates.

 ~

Victim: Tony Robinson

Age: 19

Detained/Arrested for: Disrupting traffic and attempting to strangle someone

Killer: Officer Matt Kenney

Date: March 6, 2015

Location: Madison, Wis.

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Shot in head and torso

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: Officer Kenney responded to a call of a man assaulting people and behaving erratically. He came upon Robinson and followed him back to his apartment where police said that Robinson assaulted the responding officer. Officer Kenney then shot him, claiming self defense.

  ~

Victim: Jerame Reid                       

Age: 36     

Detained/Arrested for: Passenger in car that was pulled over

Killer: Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley                                  

Date: December 30, 2014

Location: Bridgeton, N.J.

Video: Yes                                                  

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: Reid was a passenger in a car driven by his friend that was pulled over by police.  Dashboard cam video shows one officer shouting that there was a gun in the glove compartment and shouting for Reid not to exit the car. Reid did exit the car with his hands in front of his chest and both Officer Days and Officer Worley opened fire, shooting and killing Reid.

  ~

Victim: Rumain Brisbon                            

Age: 34     

Detained/Arrested for: Suspected drug deal

Killer: Officer Mark Rine                                     

Date: December 20, 2014

Location: Phoenix, Ariz.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: One gunshot to front torso, two to back

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Officer Rine shot and killed Brisbon, a father of four, after mistaking a pill bottle for a handgun. The officer had been alerted that  Brisbon and another man inside a car were participating in a drug deal. Brisbon fled and Officer Rine chased him into an apartment where he contends Brisbon reached for his waistband and had his hand around an object. The object turned out to be a pill bottle.

  ~

Victim: Tamir Rice

Age: 12

Detained/Arrested for:  Was not detained nor arrested

Killer: Officer Timothy Loehmann

Date: November 22, 2014

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Video: Yes

Victim armed: No

Method of Death: Shot in chest

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: A civilian called in to police that a male was pointing “a pistol” indiscriminately at people in Cudell Recreation Center Cudell Recreation Center but that the firearm was “probably fake” (it was) and that the male is question was “probably a juvenile.”  Within two seconds upon arrival at the scene, Officer Loehmann fired twice, one shot fired before Loehmann left his vehicle or before the vehicle even came to a full stop. Rice’s mother is now living in a homeless shelter because she says she cannot bear to live adjacent to the killing field of her child.

  ~

Victim: Akai Gurley                                   

Age: 28     

Detained/Arrested for: Neither detained nor arrested

Killer: Officer Peter Llang                                   

Date: November 20, 2014

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: Second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of official misconduct.

Details: Gurley was fired upon and killed by Officer Llang while descending a darkened stairwell at his apartment building with his girlfriend. Gurley was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. Officer Llang stated that Gurley startled him in the darkened area.

  ~

Victim: Tanisha Anderson                        

Age: 37     

Detained/Arrested for: Police called to home by family

Killer: Officer names not released                    

Date: November 13, 2014

Location: Cleveland OH

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Blunt force trauma

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: Anderson, who suffered from both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, died after officers reportedly slammed her head onto the sidewalk while taking her into custody.

  ~

Victim: Dante Parker

Age: 36

Detained/Arrested for: Suspicion of breaking and entering

Killer: Officer names not released

Date: August 12, 2014

Location: San Bernadino County CA

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Repeated stunning with a Taser

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: Police responded to an attempted break-in call with the suspect reportedly fleeing via bicycle. Officers encountered Parker riding on his bike, felt he fit the description of the suspect, attempted to arrest him and a struggle ensued. Parker died from being stunned with a Taser over 25 times.

  ~

Victim: Ezell Ford

Age: 25

Detained/Arrested for: “Investigative stop”

Killer: Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villega

Date: August 11, 2014

Location: Florence, Cal.

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: Ford, mentally ill, was shot three times, once in the back.  He was detained for what LAPD describes as an “investigative stop” and a struggle ensued. According to Ford’s family members he was lying down when the officers shot him. An investigation is still ongoing and Ford’s autopsy results have been placed on an indefinite hold by the LAPD to prevent the tainting of witness testimony.

  ~

Victim: Michael Brown

Age: 18

Detained/Arrested for: Approached for walking in the street

Killer: Officer Darren Wilson

Date: August 8, 2014

Location: Ferguson, Mo.

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Shot in chest and head (total of six shots hitting Brown)

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Officer Wilson pulled up on Brown and a companion walking in the street. An altercation between Brown and Wilson ensued, with Wilson asserting that Brown attempted to take his firearm while Wilson was still in the squad car. Brown was shot a total of six times from over 140 feet away, with Wilson stating that the 18 year-old Brown “looked like a demon.” Officer Wilson later resigned from the police force after the police department expressed concern about his continued safety in the community.. Over $500,000 was raised for Wilson’s defense via GoFundMe. Brown’s death ignited the Ferguson protests that spread nationwide and brought worldwide awareness to police brutality in the U.S. The Department of Justice also investigated the Ferguson Police Department and issued a report of racism within the department and predatory arrest and fining practices within the community.

  ~

Victim: John Crawford III               

Age: 22     

Detained/Arrested for: Neither detained nor arrested

Killer: Officers Sean Williams and David Darkow                                   

Date: August 5, 2014

Location: Beaver Creek, Ohio

Video: Yes                                                  

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Crawford was holding a toy BB gun in a Wal-Mart when he was shot by Officers Williams and Darkow. The gun was unsold merchandise and was not it its original packaging. There appeared to be no confrontation between Crawford and the officers; Crawford was shot on sight. A witness, Ronald Ritchie, told a 911 dispatcher that Crawford appeared to be pointing the gun at other shoppers, but a month later recanted admitting that Crawford had not been pointing the pellet gun at anyone.

  ~

Victim: Tyree Woodson

Age: 38

Detained/Arrested for: Open Warrants

Killer: Officer names not released

Date: August 2, 2014

Location: Baltimore, Md.

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Arrested, frisked, handcuffed and brought into the Baltimore Police station by officers for having several open warrants, police contend that Woodson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound while in custody.

  ~

Victim: Eric Garner

Age: 43

Detained/Arrested for: Selling loose cigarettes from packs without tax stamps

Killer: Officer Daniel Pantaleo

Date: July 17, 2014

Location: Staten Island, N.Y.

Video: Yes

Victim armed: No

Method of Death: Illegal chokehold

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Officer Pantaleo alleged he saw Garner selling loose cigarettes from untaxed packs although several witnesses to the incident contend that Garner was detained because he broke up a fight between two civilians. Pantaleo placed Garner under arrest and went to cuff Garner’s hands. Garner swatted the officer’s hands away. Pantaleo then placed Garner in a chokehold and continued it amongst Garner’s continuous assertions (eleven times) that he couldn’t breathe while he was held face down on the ground by Pantaleo and other officers. According to the coroner, Garner died of neck compression and “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” Garner’s death sparked nationwide protest and the slogan “I Can’t Breathe” was adopted as the movement’s battle cry against police brutality.

 ~

Victim: Victor White III                               

Age: 22     

Detained/Arrested for: Stopped by officers responding to a report of a fight

Killer: Deputy name not released                      

Date: March 2, 2014

Location: New Iberia, La.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None as of this writing

Details: Officers responded to a call concerning a fight at a convenience store. They were advised that the participants in the fight were two black males and that one might be armed with a gun. Coming upon White about six blocks from the store they stopped him although they did not see a fight nor had any evidence that White had been involved in one. White agreed to be searched and the officers discovered a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. White was arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police station where the officers contend he refused to get out of the car, produced a handgun and while still handcuffed, shot himself once in the back. White was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The coroner labeled White’s death a suicide, but determined that White had been shot in the chest instead of the back. A federal investigation is ongoing. 

  ~

Victim: Yvette Smith                        

Age: 47

Detained/Arrested for: Police responded to domestic violence call

Killer: Deputy Daniel Willis                                 

Date: February 16, 2014         

Location: Bastrop, Tex.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: Murder

Details: Deputy Willis, responding to a domestic violence call, shot Smith as she opened her front door. Willis claimed that Smith was holding a handgun when she came to the door but later retracted that statement. Smith’s family has filed a wrongful death suit. 

  ~

Victim: McKenzie Cochran                       

Age: 25

Detained/Arrested for: Allegedly said he wanted to kill someone

Killer: Mall Security Officers                              

Date: January 28, 2014         

Location: Southfield, Mich.

Video: Yes                                        

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Position compression asphyxia

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: A mall jewelry store worker contacted mall police stating that Cochran said he wanted to kill someone. Security arrived and when Cochran wouldn’t leave pepper-sprayed him and restrained him face down on the ground with a knee in his back. Cochran complained of not being able to breathe and stated he was dying. Security guards continued to hold him in that position for several minutes until he became unresponsive. The coroner ruled his death to be accidental.

  ~

Victim: Jonathan Ferrell                           

Age:  24

Detained/Arrested for: Presumed breaking and entering

Killer: Officer Randall Kerrick                            

Date: September 14, 2013

Location: Charlotte, N.C.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: Voluntary manslaughter

Details: Police responded to a call of breaking and entering. Ferrell had been knocking repeatedly on a homeowner’s door. Police state that when they arrived on the scene Ferrell ran toward them. One of the officers unsuccessfully fired his stun gun at Ferrell and the other officer proceeded to open fire, shooting Ferrell ten times. He expired at the scene. Ferrell had been in a serious car accident, and police now believe that he had been trying to get help, first at the homeowner’s house and later from the police who responded to the homeowner’s call.

  ~

Victim: Jorge Azucena                             

Age: 26     

Detained/Arrested for: Running a red light and evading police

Killer: Officers’ names not released                 

Date: September 6, 2013         

Location: Los Angeles, Cal.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Asthma attack

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: For over half an hour after being arrested Azucena (Latino) continuously told the police that he had asthma and couldn’t breathe. His cries for help went ignored. Eventually one sergeant told Azucena that he could talk, therefore he could breathe just fine. Azucena was then carried to a holding cell where he could be booked because he could not walk and was left unattended on the floor. His heart had stopped. Acuzena’s death was ruled an accident by the coroner and his mother received a settlement of $1.35 million.

  ~

Victim: Reynaldo Cuevas                         

Age: 20     

Detained/Arrested for: Neither detained nor arrested

Killer: Officer name not released                      

Date: September 7, 2012         

Location: New York, N.Y.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: While armed men attempted to rob the bodega Cuevas (Latino) where worked, he and his uncle took off running in fear. Cuevas was fired upon and killed by police thinking he was one of the suspects. His mother has filed a civil lawsuit. 

  ~

Victim: Rekia Boyd

Age: 22

Detained/Arrested for: Not detained or arrested

Killer: Detective Dante Servin (off duty)

Date: May 21, 2012

Location: Chicago IL

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Shot in the back of the head

Charges brought against officer: Involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct

Details: Detective Servin approached Boyd and group of friends who were coming from the park to buy cigarettes. Servin, in his car, admonished the group to keep quiet while they were in the park and was cursed by two of the men in the group. Servin then asserts he saw one of the men reach into his waistband to pull a gun. The off-duty detective opened fire with an unregistered 9 millimeter Glock over his left shoulder from his vehicle into the alley at the group, striking Boyd in the back of the head. The person the detective intended to shoot was holding a cellphone. Servin was found not guilty of all charges. City paid $4.5 million in a civil suit to Boyd’s estate.

  ~

Victim: Ramarley Graham                        

Age: 18

Detained/Arrested for: Approached by plainclothes narcotic officers

Killer: Officer Richard Haste                              

Date: February 4, 2012

Location: Bronx, N.Y.

Video: No                                                   

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Shot once in the chest

Charges brought against officer: First and Second Degree Manslaughter

Details: Officer Haste and another undercover officer approached Graham walking near his home. Graham fled to his apartment and into the bathroom where he was shot by Haste. Haste contends he ordered Graham to show him his hands and Graham did not comply. A small bag of marijuana was found in the toilet. Judge Steven L. Barrett threw out the indictment that the Grand Jury brought against Officer Haste. Graham’s family won a $3.9 million civil suit against the city.

  ~

Victim: Kelly Thomas                                

Age: 37     

Detained/Arrested for: Suspicious activity around parked vehicles

Killer: Officer Manuel Ramos & Cpl. Jay Patrick Cincinelli

Date: July 5, 2011                 

Location: Fullerton, Cal.

Video: Yes                                                  

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Chest compression

Charges brought against officer: Second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force

Details: Police were called concerning a man who appeared to be homeless looking into car windows and trying to open the car doors.  On video of the incident, Thomas, who was schizophrenic, appeared slow to respond to officers’ commands. After being told by Officer Ramos that he was about to “fuck [Thomas] up,” Thomas stood and Ramos and another officer proceeded to hit him repeatedly with their batons. Thomas screamed that he was sorry and told them he could not breathe. At the end of the video the homeless man calls out for his father—who is not present—to save him. He is left on the ground in a pool of blood. An autopsy showed that Thomas died from having his chest compressed preventing him from being able to breathe. Thomas’ mother received a $1 million civil settlement; both officers were acquitted of criminal charges.

 ~

Victim: Aiyana Stanley-Jones

Age: 7

Detained/Arrested for: Not detained or arrested

Killer: Officer Joseph Weekley

Date: May 16, 2010

Location: Detroit, Mich.

Video: Yes, of outside of home

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Shot

Charges brought against officer: First degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and recklessly discharging a firearm

Details: The Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team were searching for Chauncey Owens, whom they believed had shot and killed Je’Rean Blake earlier in the day. They believed Owens to be at 4054 Lillibridge St and obtained a search warrant for the premises. The raid was being filmed for a television program for A&E which shows the officers on the outside of the house. A flash grenade was fired into the home and Officer Weekley was the first one in. Weekley stated that Jones’ grandmother grabbed his weapon causing it to discharge hitting the seven year-old. Jones’ grandmother refuted this claim, contending that she only grabbed Aiyana in fright when the flashbomb was shot into the house. Later tests showed the grandmother’s fingerprints were not on the officer’s weapon. Owen’s was found to be on the second floor of the home with Jones’ aunt. First degree murder charges were initially filed against Officer Weekley but were downgraded to involuntarily manslaughter and recklessly discharging a firearm. These charges resulted in a mistrial. Involuntary manslaughter charges were then dismissed by a judge and the second trial for reckless discharge of a firearm resulted in yet another mistrial.  A prosecutor cleared Weekley of this last charge to prevent another trial. A civil suit has been filed by the Jones family.

  ~

Victim: Oscar Grant III

Age: 20

Detained/Arrested for: Fight on Bay Area Rapid Transit

Killer: Officer Johannes Mehserle

Date: January 1, 2009

Location: Oakland, Cal.

Video: Yes

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Shot in back while face down on ground and handcuffed

Charges brought against officer: First Degree Murder

Details: Officer Mehserle stated he was going to Taser Grant while Grant was handcuffed face down on the ground after resisting arrest, but pulled out his pistol and shot him instead. Mehserle was convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter and sentenced to two years minus time served.

  ~

Victim: Sean Bell

Age: 23

Detained/Arrested for: Approached for statement about “getting a gun”

Killer: Officers Paul Headley, Michael Carey, Marc Cooper, Gescard Isnora, Michael Olive

Date: November 25, 2006

Location: Queens, N.Y.

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Shot four times in neck and torso

Charges brought against officer: First and second-degree manslaughter, first and second-degree assault, and second-degree reckless endangerment

Details: Leaving his bachelor party, Sean Bell and his friends Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman were shot a total of fifty times within seconds while in a car by both plainclothes and undercover policemen. Bell was killed and his friends wounded. The cops contend that Officer Isnora approached Bell and his group in Bell’s car while displaying his badge.  Bell’s friends say Isnora showed no badge, only a drawn weapon. Bell struck Officer Isnora (who is also African American) with his vehicle. Four other cops joined Isnora and opened fire on the car. Three of the five cops involved were arrested on the charges listed above. None were found guilty. A later civil suit paid a total of $7.5 million to Sean Bell’s family and his friends who were wounded.

  ~

Victim: Gilbert Barber

Age: 22

Detained/Arrested for: Breaking into church/erratic behavior

Killer: Deputy Thomas Gordy

Date: May 18, 2001

Location: Greensboro NC

Video: No

Victim Armed: No

Method of Death: Gunshot

Charges brought against officer: None

Details: Barber was involved in a one-car accident where it was determined he was driving over 65 mph in city traffic. Barber then, according to police, left his vehicle, broke into a church and then returned to the street without his clothing. Deputy Gordy stated he pepper-sprayed Barber to no effect then proceeded to shoot him three times when the unclothed man approached him in a “threatening” fashion. Although shot in the chest in the street, Barber was found inside the church along with pools of blood and five of his teeth, some of which displayed gum tissue. Barber had no previous history of mental illness and no PCP was found in his system during autopsy.

No Justice, No Peace.

Helena Baptiste

About Helena Baptiste

Helena Baptiste is a former madam of MaLo's International House of Ho, an infamous but quaint, small-town Louisiana brothel masquerading as a Chinese restaurant. Amidst trumped-up charges from local law enforcement due to her refusal to offer complimentary doughnuts while you wait (No doughnut! Only fortune cookie!) and increasing threats from local gangsters for her grandmother's notorious Cathouse Jambalaya Love Spell recipe rumored to be the secret to her success, Baptiste escaped to the Midwest where she is now working on a collection of poetry, "The Way My Fingers Smell" and her memoir, "Mama Sure Effed Me Up" while living in constant fear of being sacrificed to the corn. Her motto is "You can keep me up here all day, but I got secrets I ain't tellin'!"
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