There's been another cop shooting an unarmed Black man again, and this time the excuse is "It was an accident, we swear."
During a supposed routine traffic stop - because the cops spotted an expired license tag and air fresheners in the wrong spot (??) - in Brooklyn Center Minnesota, the entire thing escalated into an attempt to handcuff Daunte Wright for a misdemeanor warrant (!) for failing to appear in court on an earlier charge, and then escalated from there into this (the video - available at this Balloon Juice article - can be shocking to many, so be forewarned) according to this article by Becky Sullivan at NPR.org:
At a press conference Monday, Brooklyn Center police Chief Tim Gannon played body camera footage of the shooting, saying its circumstances demanded transparency.
"It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," Gannon said. "This appears to me, from what I've viewed and the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright."
The cop - supposedly trained for months on the weapons at hand - could not tell the difference between an 8 ounce Taser and a 31 ounce firearm. Also, they're supposed to be trained to know which hip to pull their Taser from.
This is either a massive failure to train and re-train adequately for a high-risk job, or this is an excuse for yet another cop who had no problem putting bullets into yet another unarmed Black person.
And I get to accuse the cops here about the possibility of racism being the motivation here, because as this shooting took place not more than 10 miles from this incident they are wrapping up the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for his crushing of George Floyd's neck during "a routine stop" for a counterfeit Twenty.
Someone on Twitter recently noticed as a White person that she was never asked to exit her vehicle when the cops pulled her over for traffic violations. I admit I have been pulled over myself - three times for speeding, once for an expired tag like Wright, once for failure to fully stop at a Stop sign (which I did, and the cop was an asshole clearly working a ticket quota), and also caught at a traffic checkpoint in my neighborhood where the cop told me one of my headlights was out (but he let me go because he noticed my driver's ID listed my address literally a block away). I have NEVER been asked to step out of the car when pulled over, and it's making me suspicious as a White Guy why cops seem to keep ordering Blacks to get out of their cars before everything goes to Hell.
Why the hell did they have to arrest Wright for MISDEMEANORS, when they could have simply written another ticket for the expired tag and reminded him he needed to answer his court summons on the earlier pending misdemeanor. He wasn't a rampaging criminal mastermind, he was a 20-year-old who didn't have half his shit figured out and now won't get the chance to.
I may not be a law officer, and not a lawyer, but I have had enough experiences at my end of things dealing with cops that the best way to keep things cool is to keep the driver in the car and just let some shit go until you know for a fact you got a felony on your hands and you have to make a serious arrest. And even then, there ought to be ways to de-escalate the situation so that NO ONE GETS SHOT.
Let me refer back to that Balloon Juice article by Adam L. Silverman, who points out the clear problem we have in the United States:
Daunte Wright was pulled over for expired tags, which is a running problem in Minnesota because of pandemic related delays in processing renewals. Expired tags are a misdemeanor offense. When they ran him in the computer, they got a return that he had a warrant for failing to appear after being sent a summons for a court appearance on a different misdemeanor. Neither of these things would seem to necessitate any form of escalation. Wright is not heard threatening the cops. He’s not moving towards them when he pulls away from being cuffed after the female officer intervenes while one of the two male officers is trying to cuff him. I’m not even sure why she would escalate to the Taser.
I’m going to make a semi-informed guesstimate, however. I would put money on the fact that this officer has attended a continuing education class with Bill Lewinski and the absolutely bullshit training from his Force Science Institute, which teaches law enforcement to immediately escalate to the highest level of force lest they be killed by any interaction with the citizenry. Lewinsky created his own course of study and “field” within psychology when he did his doctorate and Canadian courts won’t allow him to provide expert testimony anymore because he is a “self proclaimed authority” on law enforcement use of force. Lewinski’s “police psychology” and his expert witness testimony justify every police shooting on the basis that police cannot wait to employ force lest they be harmed or killed. And if she didn’t take one of Lewinski’s continuing education course, then she had one on “killology”, which is equally garbage. Or one of the other similar courses that have turned too many law enforcement officers into “shoot first and don’t answer questions later” responders.
I write this as someone who has taught hundreds of law enforcement officers as a former criminology professor, as well as conducted continuing education for Federal and state law enforcement on how to conduct Engagement to deescalate situations in order to be more effective. And as someone who is a member of the Nassau County, NY Detectives Association. Until or unless law enforcement training – both the initial entry education and especially the continuing education – is revised to remove the bullshit junk science that justifies immediate escalations of force, this is going to continue...
Our cops are supposed to serve the public trust and uphold the law. Cops are NOT supposed to be executioners. We need to rethink our police excessive use of force, because all it's doing is getting unarmed minorities killed at an alarming rate and making our police forces look like either fools or racist assholes. >:(