Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Racial Bias in Pace University Police Shooting?

In the 1995 classic, Higher Learning, John Singleton (shout out to my Kappa Alpha Psi frat bruh) explored a myriad of issues affecting the college experience - one of which happened to be racial bias in the police force.  In one of the final scenes of the film, we see the neo-nazi character, Remy (played by Michael Rapaport), who has just opened fire on a campus crowd, clash with the protagonist, Malik (played by Omar Epps) in the stairwell of  a campus building.  When the police catch up with the two, without asking any questions they automatically grab and start beating Malik but they let Remy, the killer, walk away.  Then, after they're done with Malik, they follow Remy, who at this point has drawn out a handgun and started waving it around at everybody including the cops, and, instead of shooting him, the police actually try to talk him down.  Eventually, Remy shoots himself in the head and the cops cry out in anguish and you can't help but pick up on Singleton's inference that if the roles between Remy and Malik had been reversed, not only would the cops have lacked any empathy to cry about the suicide of a Black armed gunman, but they probably would have shot him sooner rather than later.   Did a similar scenario play out this past Sunday in New York?

From the Boston Herald:

Two drastically different stories of the chain of events that led to the death of a Pace University student from Easton emerged yesterday as his childhood friend recounted how his buddy was handcuffed and left on the ground after being shot by cops.
Danroy Henry Jr., 20, died of gunshot wounds after being shot by a Pleasantville, N.Y., police officer outside Finnegan’s Grill in Thornwood, N.Y., Sunday at about 1:19 a.m., cops said.
“To handcuff D.J. after he’s been shot and to lay him on the ground face down bleeding and to be left there like some wild, wounded animal . . . that just shouldn’t happen,” said Thomas Parks, whose stepson, Brandon Cox, 20, survived the police shooting with a wound to his left arm. A third man in the vehicle also survived....
The chain of events started after 1 a.m. Sunday in Thornwood when Pleasantville police officer Aaron Hess noticed a fight going on outside Finnegan’s Grill while he was on patrol, Alagno said.
Authorities said an officer knocked on the door of Henry’s vehicle, which was parked in a fire lane. That’s when cops said Henry accelerated and struck Hess, who ended up on the vehicle’s hood, police said.
While clinging to the hood, Hess fired at Henry, who continued toward Mount Pleasant officer Ronald Beckley, Alagno said. He added Beckley also fired at Henry’s car.

Normally, if I heard about a guy ramming a car into or towards a police officer, it used to be that I could at least understand the possible use of deadly force.  But now if I hear about that same scenario 2 problems immediately pop into my mind:

#1 - that's the same line the cops used in the Sean Bell police shooting and the controversial evidence there arguably did not support the cop's use of deadly force in that case.

#2 - something like this just happened a few weeks ago here in New York where a guy did NOT get killed:

One day after being released from federal prison, a 69-year-old man was shot and wounded by a police officer after trying to hold up a bank branch steps from Penn Station on Thursday afternoon, police officials said.
The man, whose name was not immediately released, was hit once in the leg. The officer who fired was one of two who had trailed him after they were alerted by a manager from the bank. They followed as he descended to the shopping arcade leading into the station, rode an escalator back to street level and emerged into a breezeway that stretches from 31st to 33rd Streets.
There, the police said, he turned toward the officers with the 10-inch knife in hand.
They told him to drop it. He did not.
He headed toward 31st Street with the officers a few paces behind.
Near a loading dock, they told him once again to drop the knife. Once again, he did not.

Oh and by the way, in case you were wondering, the knife wielding bank robber was White.

So we have two similar scenarios where cops are being threatened in some way, but in one case they try to talk the guy down like Remy, but in the other case they automatically start using force against the guy like Malik.

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