American police are scared and lack all decency

By Ian Hagerty

(velo_city/Flickr)
(velo_city/Flickr)

It is becoming more and more clear that police officers in the United States are entirely irrational. Earlier this month, a white Cleveland police officer shot and killed twelve year-old African-American Tamir Rice because he was carrying a BB gun that resembled a real gun. Now several white and one Latino Cleveland police officer have filed a lawsuit, claiming that non-African American police officers are treated more harshly than African-American officers in incidents involving deadly force. In any normal circumstance, a lawsuit of this nature would be completely ridiculous and unfounded. In the wake of Tamir Rice’s death, this suit is not only idiotic, it is sickening.

Discussing the circumstance involving Rice’s death is only pointless, because police killing an unarmed twelve-year-old boy is completely unjustifiable. If anything at all, this case is just new and amazing evidence of police brutality and racism in this country. It’s almost impossible to imagine a white twelve-year-old ever being shot, regardless of circumstance.

In the United States, African-American police officers account for a little more than 10 percent of all fatal police shootings. In Cleveland, African-American police officers represent an incredibly small percentage of the present police force. The number of black Cleveland police officers is so low, that when I examined charts displaying the ratio of black to white police officers in Cleveland, it was nearly impossible sometimes to see any of the light blue representing African-American officers in different regions of Cleveland. The green representing white officers was almost exclusively all that was visible.

So, this sparked my curiosity a bit further. I began to do a bit of searching online. It’s possible I wasn’t using the right key words or looking quite deeply enough, but I couldn’t even find a publicized incident of an African-American officer using deadly force in Cleveland. Considering the tiny number of African-American police officers in the city this isn’t surprising. I’d love to hear of an example of African-American officers in Cleveland using deadly force – that way we could possibly use the information as comparison and see if African-American officers really aren’t reprimanded as seriously. Unfortunately, for the case of the officers filing suit, I couldn’t find any incidents.

It is also important to examine the police shooting that sparked reprimand for a handful of officers, and thus the eventual lawsuit. Two years ago, African-Americans Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams led police on a high-speed chase that ended with 13 police officers firing a total of 137 shots into their Chevy Malibu. No weapons were found inside of the vehicle. Both Williams and Russell were shot over 20 times. What ever happened to shooting a tire out or disabling a vehicle? It seems to me that an officer of the law would have been much more heroic by ramming the car in chase off the road, or honestly done anything else rather than stand afar from any possible danger and shower the suspects in a hailstorm of bullets. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen plenty of police chases on television end in a much less execution-like manner.

Interesting also, is the actual reason that many of the officers involved in the chase and shooting are angry. The officers were placed on three days administrative leave and then a short period of restricted duty, usually about 45 days. These officers are upset to the point of lawsuit, because they lost work for less than a week and then had more, “boring and menial tasks,” such as desk duty during their period of restricted duty. So, typical of the police, they got upset because they were bored. After all, boredom is a pretty harsh punishment for obliterating life without regard for reason. These cops aren’t only reckless – they don’t even have a shred of conscious or self-doubt after causing the death of unarmed citizens. There is a serious problem when our police force doesn’t even blink in the consideration of the death of people they are paid to protect. It seems like they only care for their own lives. Our police officers are immoral, fearful and reckless. I don’t say racist, because they are blatantly racist. How much more obvious could it be?

We need a complete overhaul of our police force in this country. Consistently they are allowed to act completely out of order and hide behind their title without any serious repercussions when they seriously screw up. It’s obvious in Ferguson with the lack of indictment for former police Officer Darren Wilson. It’s obvious in Cleveland where in the same month police officers shoot and kill an unarmed 12-year-old African-American boy and file a suit for wrongful discrimination over slight discipline after brutally killing two unarmed people. The police are supposed to put their life on the line to protect us, not cower behind their gun and badge at the first sign of danger. People are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but apparently in the United States a gun can proudly serve as a judge and jury.

Ian Hagerty is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]