Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Oklahoma Pastor Nehemiah Fischer Joins 'The Counted'

Victim Nehemiah Fischer and his wife Laura [Photo - Facebook]
At some point you really have to wonder when the slow-moving gears of the US justice system are going to begin a much more comprehensive review of the use of deadly force by some members of American law enforcement.
The unsettling news that an assistant pastor from the Faith Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma named Nehemiah Fischer (pictured left) has become the latest high-profile victim to be shot and killed by police comes as civil rights groups, human rights organizations and journalists around the globe are beginning to look closer at the numbers of victims of deadly police force in the United States.

As you may have heard Fischer, a married 35 year-old respected member of the local community who ran a construction company, became one of the approximately 467 people to be killed by police in 2015 after he was shot and killed sometime after 9pm on the night of Friday May 29th following a still murky confrontation with two members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

A precise account of the events that led to his death are still unavailable pending a full investigation, but according to an article posted on The Guardian Website on Sunday, Fischer and his brother Brandon were trying get their stalled vehicle out of the rising flood waters that have claimed the lives of at least nine people in Oklahoma when two as-yet unnamed officers arrived in response to a report of a stranded motorist.

Dashcam footage of the incident taken from the police cruiser shows the two Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers apparently yelling at the Fischer brothers, as they both approach the officers moving up a slight slope, it appears one of them physically went after one of the officers and they disappear from view as the other officer draws and points his pistol.

The end result is one we've seen far too many times in 2015. While the mainstream news media often seems to focus on high-profile cases of African-Americans killed by police, an examination of the numbers shows that the use of deadly force by some members of American law enforcement includes members of every major demographic in the US. 

According to data collected in 'The Counted', a database of people killed by police in the US broken down by state and name, Nehemiah Fischer was one of 236 white Americans to loose his life at the hands of American law enforcement this year.

According to 'The Counted' 135 black Americans, 67 Hispanic/Latino Americans, 10 Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders, 4 Native Americans and 15 who are classified as being from an 'Unknown' demographic (meaning ethnically mixed or unidentifiable) have been killed by police this year.

Obviously some of those were bad guys doing really bad things. But we know some of them were not. Some weren't even armed or committing crimes; Tamir Rice was 12.

Now compare that figure of 467 fatalities (and that's only counting up to June 1st of this year...) to the 55 US service men and women killed in Afghanistan during 2014; according to statistics posted on CNSNEWS.com, 76.4% of those 55 fatalities for US troops in Afghanistan, or 42 casualties, were combat-related.

According to the article on CNSNEWS.com, the deadliest year for US combat deaths in Afghanistan since President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, was 2010 - when 495 US soldiers were killed.  

So let's put this in perspective.

Here we are on June 1st, not quite halfway through 2015, and members of US law enforcement have already killed just 28 fewer civilians on American soil than the total number of US soldiers that were killed by Taliban fighters, Muslim insurgents and terrorists from groups like Al Qaeda (and illness and accidents etc.) in all of 2010.

It's telling that the US Department of Justice does not keep comprehensive figures on the number of victims of deadly police force around the nation. But if you consider the figures above, it's not surprising why.

I wish I could have kicked off June with a more light-hearted blog, but there's a dead pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma who was shot and killed by members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol three days ago and we still don't know why.

By accounts given from those who knew him, including his wife Laura and his father, he was a peaceful family man who enjoyed teaching at his church - so why did the police have to kill him? 

We don't yet know that answer, but we do know Nehemiah Fischer's middle name.

It was Blessed. And now he's joined the growing ranks of 'The Counted.'

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