Friday, September 23, 2016

"He Doesn't Have A Gun."

Keith L. Scott & his mom Vernita Walker
Last night as I was watching some of the live CNN coverage of the massive protests taking place across the city of Charlotte, it almost seemed to surreal.

It was just about two months ago that  I was blogging about having had such a positive experience in the city during the first week of August during our family reunion.

The same pleasant streets of downtown Charlotte where I was strolling with family members, visiting museums and enjoying restaurants and the hospitality of local residents, are now crowded with protesters of different ages and ethnicities coming out to protest the killing of Keith Lamont Scott.

The protesters demanding the release of the police body-camera and dash-cam video taken at the scene of the shooting reflect an intense need to understand how a man who was sitting in his parked truck waiting to pick up his child from the school bus ends up being shot and killed by members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

They were't even looking for him, they were there to serve a warrant on someone else, so what was it that he did or said to make the cops who were surrounding his truck react as they did?

Moments after shooting: was there a gun or not?
The troubling cell phone video taken by the victim's wife Rakeyia Scott that was released earlier today doesn't make clear what prompted the police reaction.

Nor does it actually show her husband being shot, or whether he had a gun, or a book as some witnesses claim.

Even the still images taken from the video don't make it clear if there was a gun at the scene or not.

Both the attorneys for the Scott family and Police Chief Kerr Putney agree that there is no definitive evidence that Scott had or was pointing a gun when he was shot after watching the dash-cam and body-cam video.

Regardless the sound of Rakeyia Scott's pleading for the officers not to shoot her husband are heartbreaking and difficult to listen to.

Aside from an apparently innocent man being shot and killed for reasons that are unknown, perhaps the biggest tragedy of this incident is the degree to which it further erodes an already fragile trust between some American communities and the police sworn to serve and protect them.

A trust made more elusive over behavior by some police officers during high-profile shootings of unarmed citizens in the past.

Michael Slager stand over a dying Walter Scott
For  example after North Charleston PD officer Michael Slager shot and killed African-American motorist Walter Scott on April 4, 2015 after a traffic stop for a faulty brake light, Slager lied to investigators about Scott taking Slager's taser and trying to use it against him.

Until cell phone video taken by a bystander not only showed Scott trying to run away; it showed Slager picking up the taser and bringing it over to where Scott lay bleeding to death on the ground and dropped it next to him.

Clear evidence that he was already concocting a false story to justify his having shot Scott.

And revealing the horrifying reality that instead of calling for an ambulance or trying to administer CPR, Slager was busy working on a coverup.

Chicago police spent more than a year dismissing eyewitness, illegally confiscating CCTV footage from nearby businesses and trying to block release of the dash-cam video of officer Jason Van Dyke shooting teenager Laquan McDonald sixteen times as the victim was walking away from Van Dyke and other officers with a small knife in his hand.

Again, police created a false narrative about having had their lives threatened and being forced to shoot and kill McDonald to protect themselves - Van Dyke and at least four other Chicago PD officers on the scene all lied to investigators about McDonald lunging at them with the knife.

Protesters in Charlotte Thursday night
Those are just two of many examples of the kind of behavior on the part of some American police officers that erodes trust between citizens and police; incidents that overshadow the thousands of law enforcement professionals across the country who work hard and risk their lives to protect the communities they serve.

And do it the right way.

So this is more than just yet another African-American man being shot by trigger happy cops.

And it's certainly way more complex than asinine Republican North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger's absurd comments to the BBC that the protesters in Charlotte "hate white people because white people are successful and they are not." - do those protesters in the photo above look like they hate white people?

Obviously this remarkably out of touch delusional gas-bag Trump supporter hasn't been watching the live coverage of the protests in the city he represents, because he would have seen large numbers of white people out there protesting Keith Scott's shooting as well.

I guess he missed the fact that the cop who shot Scott was black?

The point that's going waaay over the head of Congressman Pittenger and the orange-haired presidential candidate he supports is that these protests are about justice, Constitutional rights, civil rights and the unchecked and unjustified use of deadly force against unarmed Americans taking place in this country.

So tonight while Trump and Pittenger and their ilk pontificate and shamelessly politicize the deaths of Keith Scott and Terrence Crutcher, members of the North Carolina National Guard now occupy the downtown streets where just a few weeks ago I was sitting with a couple of my cousins outside the downtown Hilton enjoying a drink with my cousins watching people wandering by on their way home from bars and clubs.

Now those streets teem with people seeking justice, who, like millions of people around the world are finding it hard to forget the sound of Rakeyia Scott voice on that cell phone video desperately pleading with police, "Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. He didn't do anything."

No comments: