Saturday, April 2, 2016

No Slack, and It's Deadly

I have not commented on the local case of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old black man shot to death by police last fall in North Minneapolis. A few days ago, the Hennepin County Attorney announced he would not charge either of the two cops involved.

As multiple people have said upon viewing the videos that are now finally available, Clark was not acting combative, or in any way one would have imagined, based on how police described the scene in the past. The cops were at the scene for only 61 seconds before one of them fired his gun directly into Clark's  head (twice! the first time, it didn't go off).

The only thing you can see in the videos is that Clark has his hands in his pockets, and didn't take them out. In response, one of the cops used a "take down" move that is not approved or taught by Minneapolis police, which put Clark on his back with the cop on top of him, also on his back.

Supposedly at this point, the cop's gun holster had slid around to his back, between him and Clark, and he could feel that Clark was grabbing the gun handle. He yelled to his partner, "he's going for my gun." The partner then put his own gun against Clark's head and told him to stop.

This is when the two cops report Clark said "I'm ready to die." No one else heard that, nor did they hear the cop say that Clark was going for the gun.

The shooter pulled the trigger, but the gun didn't fire. So he shot again, fatally.

All in 61 seconds.

What I take from this is that these two cops approached this young man differently than they would have if he was a white man. He was given no time to get his hands out of his pockets, and when he didn't do it immediately, he was tackled rather than talked to. As a letter writer in today's Star Tribune put it,

During the Aquatennial one year, I saw a drunken white man jump on the back of a white policeman. They both fell hard to the ground, the drunk on top of the cop. Some other cops helped them to their feet. Everybody laughed. If the drunk had been black and in north Minneapolis, what would have happened? I guarantee no one would have laughed and calmly helped the two men to their feet. White cops’ instincts tell them that black men are lethal and lethal force must be used against them.
The unapproved take down led to an uncontrolled situation where the aggressive cop either felt threatened or actually was threatened (no way to know at this point). But he created it through his actions.

I think it would have been appropriate to bring the case to trial, rather than dismiss it outright.


Here's another commentary on the killing from today's Star Tribune.

And a past post about the lack of slack for some in our society.


Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I too was disappointed that Freeman skated past some obvious remaining questions. I am glad that people are continuing to speak out, as in the opinion piece you linked to, and I hope the continuing investigations will at least change some procedures, such as the legality of that kind of takedown. But I don't know what will change the underlying racism as displayed, for example, in the comments on the Strib site.

Daughter Number Three said...

Ooo, never read the comments, especially on a newspaper site. Amazing they even have comments open on it, since they usually don't open them on stories that clearly will bring out the racists.