Why Did You Shoot & Kill? @ WTF 7/19

 

 

Another person was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer… an unarmed person.

After a 911 call of a possible sexual attack occurring in an alleyway outside of the caller’s home, two Minneapolis cops, officers Matthew Harrity, the driver and his partner Mohamed Noor, responded in a patrol car and went to the scene of a possible violent scene. When they arrived, they encountered Justine Damond who approached the patrol car. Then for reasons still unknown, Officer Noor, the cop in the passenger seat, fired his weapon across and past Harrity and through the window wounding Damond in her stomach. She eventually died from the gunshot wound. Her death has been labeled a homicide by the coroner’s office.

Woman leaves a message on the sidewalk near the scene where a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Justine Damond. ( photo by Elizabeth Flores/AP)

Within twenty-four hours of the shooting, a make shift memorial appeared at the scene… in the alleyway… flowers, candles, photos, messages of in chalk on the pavement, hand-made cards of condolence and a hand-written poster board asking “Why” … and… people’s outrage was heard.

The person killed was the person who had made the 911 call … she was out to meet the responding officers… she was in her pajamas… and while few facts are available or forthcoming from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)… they have taken over the investigation from the Minneapolis police…. she is assumed to have been unarmed as various anonymous reports from three different persons with knowledge of the shooting say no weapon was found at the scene. In fact all sources indicate that the only item found anywhere near the victim was her cell phone.

A updated story from last night’s (7/18 9:29 pm) online version of  the New York Daily News (NYDN) says Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators had finally released an account of the shooting where the driver of the police squad car, Matthew Harrity, has told investigators that he “was startled by a loud sound near the squad” right before Damond approached the car and Noor shot the victim Justine Damond. The BCA report also noted that investigators cannot compel Officer Noor “to give an interview about what exactly happened to make him pull the trigger.”

.The Washington Post published the following account at around 10:30 this morning (7/19)…

“The two officers were driving through an alley near the home of Justine Damond, 40, after she called 911 late Saturday to report a possible assault, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the state agency investigating the shooting. The officer who was driving the patrol car told investigators that right after (a) loud noise, Damond approached the car on his side. The officer who was in the passenger seat then fatally shot Damond through the driver’s side window, according to investigators… ”

And… the victim… the person… Justine… was white.

An Australian who had come to America in 2015 for love… she was to be married to an American citizen. Married next month to her fiancé Don Damond…

Ya wanna know my first reaction when I heard about all of this? When I heard there was another cop shooting and there was another killing of an unarmed person but this time the person was white? My very first…my initial reaction… my gut reaction?

I thought… maybe now all those peeps who been bitching and barking about Black Lives Matter might finally wake up and see there is a very real problem with how cops in this country police our society.

I might have even thought “Good, maybe now…”

Not that I think a person being killed is ever “good” but my feeling was… and still is… that now, maybe all those white folks who can’t see why others… especially Black others… are saying that cops in this country are out of control and that something needs to be done to stop them from continuing their present reign of terror… that these white folks  will finally start to see and understand what those others are saying is really the truth.

Like what happened when the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area was shocked by another police shooting just last year… when a cop fired his weapon at Philando Castile… a Black man…seven times (hit him five) in a St. Paul suburb just miles from the scene of Saturday night’s killing.

The cop who shot Castile was charged with three felonies… manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm but he was acquitted just last month. As always it came down to the fact that the cop said he feared for his safety and had to take violent action to secure the safety of the situation and to preserve the peace and a jury simply did not believe the prosecution met its burden for a conviction. Despite all sorts of video and testimony that depicted things differently

Cop’s weapon and Philando Castile’s body…

That cop is no longer employed as police officer … the day he was acquitted, he was also fired by the City of Saint Anthony.

What’s that tell you about how his employer felt about his viability to continue on as a cop to serve and to protect?

Understand… while many times there is racism involved, it isn’t always just white cops killing Black people…  sometimes the cop is a person of color…  as in the Castile case… the cop who pulled the trigger… seven times… was Hispanic. And, sometimes it is a Black cop doing the killing. Or at least involved in the killing if not the actual person who fired the killing shot.

The point being that racism…  as well as classism… can be very involved in Black people being killed by cop, but many times… and quite possibly the majority of the times…  it is also the overwhelming attitude of the cops themselves, both of their false bravado of belonging to the biggest baddest gang around… the brotherhood of the blue… and the resulting fear that sooner or later some bad ass will come along looking to make his mark and take one of the blue brothers down.

The attitude… that they are a damn cop and what they say is law and if they be talking to you then you best do what they say. No lip… no sass… no opinion… just follow orders. Although what cops claim is law is oftentimes not actual or truthful.

Part of the problem is that in most communities you don’t need to be very educated to be a cop. And, sometimes the peeps who become cops do so because they don’t have many other alternatives… like why some people go into the military… only those folks who do the military sometimes forget they can find themselves in places like Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria, or back in the day, Vietnam or Korea. Being a cop is a tad on the safer side. Less training and preparation but safer.

And sometimes the problem is…  again like them that drifts towards the military… the type of “skills” some people have translate best to do the grunt work of being a patrol cop and sometimes amongst these people are them that have a bit of the criminal within themselves… criminality that leans towards violence and psychopathy.

Suddenly, as a cop they got a weapon and they got some authority to go around puffing out their chest and being big bad ass policeman… or in actuality a bully with a badge… while inside maybe they be more a scared ass timid Barney Fifes… or at least a person possessing the fear and insecurity that resides inside of all bullies.

Kinda, sorta what the cop who killed Castile may have been going through… his fears and anxiety and his subjective projection of what he envisioned the situation to be wound up ruling his cop actions…

Per the BCA transcript of the interview of Jeronimo Yanez… the cop who killed Castile… Yanez stated that the shooting was justifiable due to his fear for his life because he believed… that Castile’s behavior was abusive toward a young girl passenger (Castile’s girlfriend’s daughter) in the car.

Yep.

Yanez told the BCA: “I thought, I was gonna die, and I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger (Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds) doing the same thing, then what, what care does he give about me?”

Castile and his previous marijuana use was a big part of Yanez’ defense strategy after a small amount of the drug was found in the car Castile was driving.

To be sure that is some damn faulty, twisted, mangled, scary, pretzel logic… but think about it… think about what he told the BCA. About what was going through his mind and why he had eventually took his weapon out and then why he fired the weapon… think about his own paranoia of how he envisioned Castile to be…  A BIG. BAD. BLACK. ARMED. DRUGGIE. Despite no real evidence of that perceived reality AND despite the other officer on the passenger side Castile’ car never feeling the need to unholster his weapon.

Other revelations from the BCA interviews show that Yanez never states that he saw a firearm … rather he uses phrases like “it appeared to me that he was wrapping something around his fingers and almost like if I were to put my hand around my gun. It was dark inside the vehicle … “it seemed like he was pulling out a gun and the barrel just kept coming” … “I know he had an object and it was dark. And he was pulling it out with his right hand” … and… “It was, to me, it just looked big and apparent that he’s gonna shoot you, he’s gonna kill you.”

He never states it as an objective fact… rather it is a subjective assumption. Based upon what? When the first reports of the shooting came out he was suppsoed to be pulling over Castile for a defective tail light. Later reports said he was pulling over Castile because Castile had a “broad nose” that resembled a suspect from an earlier robbery.

Everything is based upon his very biased interpretation of who he was dealing and of his own fears and paranoia involving that person.

I present all this from the Castile killing because I have a sneaking suspicion there will be similarities between the cop who fired the weapon that killed Justine Damond… the unarmed PJed woman…  and the cop who fired the weapon that killed Castile. The will shadow one another. That each cop involved was being ruled by his own paranoia, fear and biases.

I can’t wait for the moment to arrive where Officer Mohamed Noor… the cop who killed Justine… says the shooting and death of Justine Damond was justified because he feared for his life and/or his partner’s life.

I can’t wait for the rationalizations… the justifications… and… yeah the outright lies and falsehoods that come out of his mouth, and other mouths of members of the brotherhood of the blue, as Justine is somehow painted as either a person who had entered into a very bad circumstance and was tragically killed or is somehow made into an unfortunate accident who caused her own death by something she did that was perceived as a threat.

According to the BCA this is what has happened so far… officially…

“Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S, just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday. At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman. The BCA’s investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete … the officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.”

This is what local news newspaper have pieced together…

  • A 40-year-old Australian woman who was engaged to be married was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer after she called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home.
  • Police arrived in a squad car and the officer seated in the passenger seat shot the Sydney, Australia, native through the driver’s side window.
  • The woman was not named by police but people at the scene confirmed her identity, as Justine Ruszczyk, who goes by Justine Damond as she had already taken her husband-to be’s last name before their next month’s nuptials.
  • Damond studied to be a veterinarian at the University of Sydney before moving to Minneapolis to be with her fiancé. She worked actively as Yoga instructor, as well as an instructor on living well, since coming to the States.
  • No video of the incident has been released, and investigators are working to determine whether any exists.
  • The officers’ body cameras were not turned on and the squad camera did not capture the incident.
Why were the cameras off during the Justine Damond shooting?

The newspapers also reported that Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has questions… including “… why the bodycams weren’t on.”

The reason that is a big deal… outside the fact the cameras would have provided crucial evidence of the actual circumstances… is that it is a blatant violation of departmental policy law not to have the cameras activated when there is a police action involving a critical incident. In fact, since 2016, Minneapolis has required all officers to wear and activate body cameras “at all times when they could reasonably anticipate that they may become involved in a situation for which activation is appropriate.”

A report of a possible sexual attack occurring seems to me to be a very critical incident or a time that a cop could “reasonably anticipate that they may become involved in a situation for which activation is appropriate.”

The Australian perspective…

A newspaper from Justine Damond’s hometown… Sydney, Australia… bannered the headline about her death… “AMERICAN NIGHTMARE.”

Philip Alpers, a gun policy analyst with the University of Sydney who has studied the serious differences in gun laws between Australia and America, told reporters, “The country is infested with possibly more guns than people. We see America as a very risky place in terms of gun violence … and so does the rest of the world.”

Cops carry guns in Australia… still death by a bullet from an Australian cop’s weapon is an exceedingly rare event. Compared to America, the deaths… deadly shootings… by Australian police are exceedingly rare; there are only a handful reported each year.

While exact numbers are hard to come by…  a 2016 Washington Post article says that, by their personal accounting, there were about 900 deaths in America by cop in 2015…

The Post article says that in 2010, Australia had six people who were killed by a cop’s bullet… and… in 2013, British police officers fired their weapons a total of three times and the people killed were zero… zilch… as in not a single damn person… and… In 2011, German police were responsible for six shooting deaths.

Gun deaths in America are so rampant and death by cop are so prevalent in comparison to other countries, that the Australian government’s official travel word to their citizens going to America is to “be on guard for gun crime”, and that if anyone intends to stay in America then they should be familiar with “active shooter” training drills. Germany and New Zealand, have also actively encouraged their citizens who intend to travel within the American borders “to be aware of high levels of gun violence. Various other sovereign nations country’s foreign affairs departments tell travelers to America to “be vigilant about (the) possibility of gun crime in all parts” of the United States.

All over the damn world… no other country faces the bullshit Americans face with gun violence nor do they need to worry that if they are somehow involved or interact with an American cop that they might not live too long or to see the sun come up on the dawning of the new day.

Coming back to America…

Don Damond, Justine’s fiancé has publicly told news media folks,  “Our hearts are broken and we’re utterly devastated by the loss of Justine… (she was) a teacher to so many in living a life of openness, love and kindness. She was so kind and so darned funny. We’re desperate for information. Piecing together Justine’s last moments before the homicide would be a small comfort.”

Don Damond is comforted by his son Zach before he made a statement to the press

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she had “questions about why the bodycams weren’t on” and tha she was “heartsick and deeply disturbed by what occurred.” She added, “There are still many questions about what took place, and while the investigation is still in its early stages, I am asking the BCA to release as much information, as quickly as they are able to.”

A friend and fellow Australian told HuffPost that Justine, “… was such a shining light in so many ways. She leaves a gaping hole in so many lives. (She) deserved three lifetimes, not less than half of one.”

Not just a few folks in Minneapolis are sayin they distrust cops more than ever…

A neighborhood couple of the Damond’s typified many folk’s distrust when the husband said, that he and his wife would be reluctant to call the police for help and if they did call them they certainly would not go out to meet them when they arrived. He added. “How many people have to get shot? You can walk your dog at midnight around here. Minneapolis is not ‘Syria.’”

Bethany Bradley, of Women’s March Minnesota, asked where is the transparency in this entire debacle and why hasn’t even an audio recording of the 911 call been released?

She added, “A woman should not call the police for help and end up dead. This should not have happened. This cannot happen in South Minneapolis. This cannot happen in North Minneapolis. This cannot happen in St. Paul. This cannot happen in the whole country. I’m angry.”

Good.

And you damn well should be angry. That anger should have started long before Justine Damond was killed by a cop’s bullet but good… get angry… and then do something with that anger… badger your politicians… unelect the bastards if they don’t actively support stronger gun laws or call for better training of people who would be police officers.

And… Zach Damond… Don’s son and Justine’s future stepson… who will never have the chance to officially call Justine “Mom” though  he had unofficially already bestowed her with that honorific… in a video posted to the Women’s March Minnesota Facebook page said, “Basically, my mom’s dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know. I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call the police and demand answers. I’m so done with all this violence.”

He added: “America sucks. These cops need to get trained differently. I need to move out of here.”

White America wake the fuck up!

They are killing you, also. They have historically and systemically tried to keep you down… in your place. Just as they have done to your Black brothers and sisters. Just as they have done to the Native Americans. Only you think that because the power brokers, who rule your life, look like you that they are on your side. They ain’t.

They tried to stop you from organizing your workers… ending inhumane child labor… fighting for 40-hour work weeks… getting guaranteed salaries that a person could live on… barely…

They came at you with their goons with their clubs and worse… they tried to stop your labor movement with a systematic campaign of horror and terror and if they couldn’t stop your movement they then tried killing your asses. Just as they did to the Native Americans… the Black people.

When out of work veterans… the Bonus Marchers or Bonus Army… marched down upon Washington DC demanding promised back pay… they brought the cops down on your asses and when they were met with so much resistance that they were driven back… they brought down federal troops upon the nearly 43,000 people assembled… 17,000 plus vets and supporting family, friend and various organizations… President Herbert Hoover ordered the Army to clear out the veterans once and for all. General Douglas Macarthur… yeah, him… led the troops of the 3rd Cavalry and the 12th Infantry as well as 6 tanks that burnt your make shift shanty town down to the ground. They rode roughshod upon you… your families.. your wives, your daughters and sons… as they forced you to get the fuck out of town…

They tried gassing you with noxious and poisonous fumes and substances when you tried to tell Corporate America… the Industrial Military complex… “Hell, no! We won’t go” to Vietnam… they brought in cops on horseback and the National Guard who beat you silly with their clubs and at times shot you dead…

Police attack protesters outside of the 1968 Democratic National Convention

The same thing again at the 1968 Democratic Convention… they beat you, they gassed you, they jailed you…

They did the same thing all over again when you tried to Occupy Wall Street…

And each and every time you tried joining with Black folks and others to fight for a better and more dignified life… for human rights… the Civil Rights Movement… Black Lives Matter Movement…  they kicked the shit out of you and once again even killed some of you.

So… Wake the fuck up white America. They are coming for you, too.

Hell, they been coming at you except you have been too complacent… too blind… to see the truth… the reality… or… maybe it just didn’t really matter to you. You just didn’t give a fuck.  After all you was all snuggled down in your safe neighborhoods… in your safe and well-constructed clapboard or brick homes… it didn’t concern you…

But… maybe it does now that they killed an unarmed white woman who called for police to come to her neighborhood to protect and to keep the peace. Only she became a statistic of an ongoing problem in America… cops who don’t have a valid and real honest damn answer to the question that asks…

Why did you shoot and Kill?

That’s all I got today…

I ain’t even gonna post Another Thousand Words… but… I will post the lyrics to a Dylan song. I’m not sure why, but all through the writing of this column these lyrics kept running through my heart and my brain…

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son
And where have you been, my darling young one
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
And what did you see, my darling young one
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

(Lyrics and Music by Bob Dylan; © Bob Dylan Music/Special Rider Music)

I changed my mind.. .

Another thousand words…

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