One of the comments I hear most often when I write about unarmed black men being shot by police is along the lines of “well, he shouldn’t have run” or “well, if he had just done as the police told him to …” Now picture this:
An autistic man in his early 20s, with nearly no verbal communication skills and very low cognitive abilities runs away from an assisted living facility and, once outside, confused and unsure what to do, where to go, he sits down in the middle of a busy street, blocking traffic, and begins playing with a white toy truck. Along comes one of the therapists from the facility (African-American) to attempt to calm the young autistic patient. Someone called the police … who knows why … to report that the man had a gun and was threatening suicide. He did not have a gun, not even a toy gun … he had only a toy truck. And since he does not communicate verbally, he obviously was not threatening suicide. (Perhaps it is time for concerned citizens to think before dialing 911???) When police arrived, the therapist, upon orders by police, lay on the ground with his hands straight up in the air, and tried to calmly talk the young patient into doing the same. He yelled to the police, who were hiding behind telephone poles, that he only had a toy truck, as he continued trying to coax the young man to lie down on the pavement. The therapist (black, remember) had his arms straight in the air, when police fired three shots, hitting him, the therapist, who was lying with his hands in the air, not the patient who was still sitting upright playing with his truck. Want to tell me again how police do not target black people unfairly?
Fortunately, a bystander caught much of the incident leading up to the shooting on video, though supposedly not the actual shooting itself. Please take a minute to watch, and I think you will agree that there was no reason for the first shot to be fired. Charles Kinsey shooting
The place was Miami Florida. It happened last Monday, fully three days ago as of this writing. The therapist is one Charles Kinsey, the autistic patient shall remain unnamed, the two white police officers have not yet, three days after the fact, been identified, however we do know that both were white, one a male and one a female. One officer claims he thought Kinsey was in danger from the unarmed autistic man playing with his toy truck, and was attempting to shoot the patient in order to protect Kinsey. How did this officer ever pass the police academy, since he or she is obviously not able to hit a fairly large target at reasonably close range? According to Kinsey, the officer who fired the shots seemed confused by what happened. “‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’” Kinsey recalled asking the officer. “He said, ‘I don’t know.’”
But this isn’t all, folks. First, the Keystone Kops handcuffed both the therapist and the patient, then left the wounded, bleeding therapist in the street, handcuffed, for a reported 20 minutes before transport to the hospital arrived.
An investigation by Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been launched, and they are refusing to name the officers involved. Attorney General Loretta Lynch noted that she is aware of the situation, but does not yet possess enough facts to determine whether or not her office will review the case.
A 73-year-old man, watching from a corner store on the street, saw that the autistic patient had a toy truck, and recognized it as such. Kinsey yelled to the police not to shoot, that the patient was autistic and was only playing with a toy truck. Yet they claim that they still believed he had a gun.
Those are the facts that have been made to the public thus far. Obviously, there are some gaps.
I join the rest of the nation, regardless of race, in mourning the slain officers in Dallas and in Baton Rouge. I condemn the behaviour of those who went on cop-killing sprees in recent weeks. I do not in any way, shape, or form condone the random and senseless murders of law enforcement officers. However, neither do I condone heavy-handed, trigger-happy, racist police officers shooting unarmed people. And I absolutely do not condone racism in our law enforcement communities! Admittedly, I do not have all the facts in this case, but based on the reported facts thus far, plus the video, this appears to have all the makings of misconduct and stupidity at the very least, or more likely a case of racism. I fear that the attacks on police officers across the nation are destined to become the norm unless we get the racists off the police force pronto. There has been and continues to be entirely too much of this. It needs to stop, but until the police who commit the crime are brought to justice (think Baltimore), then I do not foresee any good outcome, any improvement. Of late, there have been numerous stories in mainstream and social media about police and community coming together, doing nice things for each other. And that is nice. Very nice. But the reality is that out there in the streets, in the everyday world, nothing has really changed. If we want the community to respect law enforcement, then those who represent law enforcement must respect the community. Period.