Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash

Police Violence Takes The Life of Another Unarmed Black Man

There is a war raging in Ukraine and we have seen the gruesome images of blood and destruction on television news reports but that concern has slowly turned to impatience baked by feelings of impotence and hopelessness.
Another mass shooting is reported in a school and again we are shocked and angered and filled with revulsion. We wring our hands and demand changes in the laws that allow people to blithely purchase killing machines. Then the feelings of paralysis take over and we move on to things that matter in our daily lives, like Jeopardy.
Now we have the latest brutal police killing of an unarmed black man and again it is there for the world to see and again we demand the police change their ways but then we move on to other things, not because we don’t care but because we feel utterly disempowered and disembowled.
We have an amazing propensity to digest violence, get through it and close our eyes so we can continue with our lives. Except for the people who are cooked in the war in Ukraine, the children who are mowed down by the hate-filled assassin, the black men who are tortured and killed by police who see their victims as human detritus.
I cannot erase the image of 46-year-old George Floyd, lying on a Minneapolis street, dying and calling out that he could not breathe while a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneels on Floyd’s neck, expediting the murder. My fists clench in rage while I see the police video footage of Tyre Nichols as a gang of Memphis, Tenn., vigilantes, posing as police officers, gather around him, kicking him, punching him, Tasing him with injuries that result in his death three days later.
And I cannot turn my head and restrain my nausea from watching the violence directed upon 40-year-old Jerod Draper who was overdosing on methamphetamines when he was arrested, locked in a jail cell and is violently restrained and repeatedly given brutal shocks by police Tasers who fear the man will damage the iron door and cement walls of the cell. Several hours later, the Indiana man dies from the unrelenting torture. The video is in today’s N.Y. Times under the headline, “Authorities Used a Taser on Him 7 Times in 15 Minutes. Then He Died. Justice Never Came.”
We never really become numb to the violence as we try to digest the incidents the best we can. But those images remain seared in our minds, effecting our lives in ways that we don’t understand. Still, it’s like we’ve seen it all before and expect to see it over and over again.
For those who haven’t heard, Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after he was savaged by members of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION unit (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods), a gang of undercover officers assembled in October 2021 to deal with serious crimes. Five of the officers have been fired and charged with murder, kidnapping, assault and misconduct, including Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith and two others were relieved of their duty pending further review. The SCORPION unit has been disbanded. Police had claimed that Nichols started to fight with them and reached for one of their guns. The video shows none of this was true.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered while being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill. During the arrest, Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds after he was handcuffed and lying face down.
Chauvin was convicted on June 25 of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. Minneapolis paid $27 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Floyd’s family. Three other officers on the scene were convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights and received sentences from three years to 42 months. A verdict on a fourth officer is expected this month.
Draper’s death is less known as it was not made public until it was uncovered recently by a filmmaker, Sam Mirpoorian. It also has not made headlines because unlike most of the victims of police violence, Draper is white.
Draper, the father of a young girl, was killed in 2018 but authorities did not immediately investigate the circumstances of his death. Mirpoorian was able to examine surveillance video from the jail cell where Draper was confined. Rather than receive the medical care he desperately needed to address a drug overdose, Draper is seen writhing in agony while he is restrained to a chair in the cell and given Taser shocks that opened bloody wounds on his thighs. The authorities have refused to charge any of the jail officers involved in the death.
The Statista Research Department reported that, since Floyd’s murder, at least 229 Black people were killed this year by police officers across the U.S. Most are male and range in age from three months to 88 years.
Last year, 313 Black people were killed by the police, compared 216 Hispanics, 17 Native Americans, and 502 White people. The rate of police shootings of Black Americans is much higher than any other ethnicity, at 37 per million people. This rate stands at 28 per million for Hispanics and 15 per million for Whites, Statista Research reported.
The scenes of the carnage have congealed into a nightmarish vision, places like the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.; the Route 91 Harvest musical festival in Las Vegas; the First Baptist Church in Sutherlands Springs, Texas; the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.; and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The targets of police criminality, too many to name, have become apparitions, including the most publicized victims, people like George Floyd, Jerod Draper, Tyre Nichols, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor and Daunte Wright.
There have been others who were the topic of brief news articles, like 3-month-old La’Mello Parker who died on May 3, 2021, during a barrage of bullets after law enforcement officers fired on the baby’s father on Interstate 10 in Biloxi, Miss., after chasing him 140 miles from Baton Rouge, La.
Robert Coleman, 88, merited a brief report on the news after he was shot and killed by West Sacramento, Calif., police on Sept. 12, 2020. Police said they killed Coleman after they responded to a report of an African-American man in his 30s armed with a gun. Police described seeing a man get out of a vehicle armed with a gun, and the shooting ensued. Coleman’s family said the man had recently been struggling with mental illness and had suicidal thoughts. No police were prosecuted.
There have been many others whose names are not generally reported but who have died needlessly, leaving grieving families and communities seething with anger over rogue cops. The 229 Black people who have been killed by police since George Floyd include Tony McDade aka Natosha McDade, Modesto “Marrero Desto” Reyes, Ruben Smith III, Jarvis Sullivan, Terrell Mitchell, Momodou Lamin Sisay, Derrick Thompson, David McAtee, Tyquarn Graves, Kamal Flowers, Lewis Ruffin Jr., Phillip Jackson, Michael Blu Thomas, Rayshard Brooks, Cane Van Pelt, Donald Ward, Brandon Gardner, Terron Jammal Boone, Derrick Canada, Skyleur Toung, Robert D’Lon Harris, Rasheed Mathew Moorman, Aloysius Larue Keaton, Kevin O. Ruffin, Ky Johnson, William Wade Burgess III, Joseph W. Denton, Paul Williams, Malik Canty, Erroll Johnson, Richard Lewis Price, Hakim Littleton, Vincent Demario Truitt, Aaron Anthony Hudson, Darius Washington, Vincent Harris, Jeremy Southern, name withheld by police, Chester Jenkins, David Earl Brooks Jr., Darrien Walker, Ashton Broussard, Amir Johnson, Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis, Salaythis Melvin, Jonathan Jefferson, Rafael Jevon Minniefield, Kendrell Antron Watkins, Anthony McClain, Adrian Jason Roberts, Trayford Pellerin, Damian Lamar Daniels, Julius Paye Kehyei, Name withheld by police, Michael Anthony Harris, Robert Earl Jackson, Dijon Kizzee, Deon Kay, Steven D. Smith, Major Carvel Baldwin, Steve Gilbert, Jonathan Darsaw, Robert Coleman, Darrell Wayne Zemault Sr., Charles Eric Moses Jr., Dearian Bell, Patches Vojon Holmes Jr., Kurt Andras Reinhold, Willie Shropshire Jr., DeMarco Riley, Jonathan Price, Stanley Cochran, Tyran Dent, Anthony Jones, Kevin Carr, Dana Mitchell Young Jr., Fred Williams III, Akbar Muhammad Eaddy, Dominique Mulkey, Marcellis Stinnette, Rodney Arnez Barnes, Gregory Jackson, Mark Matthew Bender, Ennice “Lil Rocc” Ross Jr., Jakerion Shmond Jackson, Walter Wallace Jr., Maurice Parker, Kevin Peterson Jr., Name withheld by police, Justin Reed, Michael Wright, Reginald Alexander Jr., Frederick Cox Jr., Rodney Eubanks, Vusumuzi Kunene, Brandon Milburn, Tracey Leon McKinney, Angelo “AJ” Crooms, Sincere Peirce, Arthur Keith, Name withheld by police, Shane K. Jones, Shawn Lequin Braddy, Jason Brice, Kenneth Jones, Rodney Applewhite, Terrell Smith, Rondell Goppy, Ellis Frye Jr., Cory Donell Truxillo, Mickee McArthur, Udofia Ekom-Abasi, James David Hawley, Kevin Fox, Dominique Harris, Maurice Jackson, Andre K. Sterling, Casey Christopher Goodson Jr., Kwamaine O’Neal, Mark Brewer, Donald Edwin Saunders, Thomas Reeder III, Joseph R. Crawford, Joshua Feast, Charles E. Jones, Bennie Edwards, Jeremy Daniels, Johnny Bolton, Larry Taylor, Andre Maurice Hill, Isaac Frazier, Sheikh Mustafa Davis, Shamar Ogman, Marquavious Rashod Parks, Larry Hamm, Helen Jones, Jason Cooper, Jaquan Haynes, Shyheed Robert Boyd, Dolal Idd, Carl Dorsey III, La Garion Smith, Tre-Kedrian Tyquan White, Vincent Belmonte, Shawn McCoy, Robert “Lil Rob” Howard, Jason Nightengale, Matthew Oxendine, Patrick Warren Sr., Lymond Maurice Moses, Kershawn Geiger, Reginald Johnson, Zonterious Johnson, Christopher Harris, Eusi Malik Kater Jr., Tyree Kajawn Rogers, Randy Miller, Roger D. Hipskind, Karl Walker, Marvon Payton Jr., Jenoah Donald, Dontae Green, Treyh Webster, Christopher Hagans, Andrew Hogan, Dustin Demaurean Powell, Gregory Taylor, Jordan Walton, Brandon Wimberly, Daverion Kinard, Arnell States, Benjamin Tyson, Donald Francis Hairston, Chandra Moore, Andrew Teague, Howayne Gale, Tyshon Jones, Tyrell Wilson, Nika Nicole Holbert, Christopher Ruffin, Daryl Lenard Jordan, Kevin L. Duncan, Frankie Jennings, Travon Chadwell, Malcolm D. Johnson, Donovan W. Lynch, Matthew Blaylock, Michael Leon Hughes, Willie Roy Allen, DeShawn Latiwon Tatum, Noah R. Green, Diwone Wallace, Gabriel Casso, Desmon Montez Ray, Dominique Williams, James Lionel Johnson, James Alexander, Raheem Reeder, DeShund Tanner, Faustin Guetigo, Daunte Wright, Miles Jackson, Mathew Zadok Williams, Anthony Thompson Jr., Pier Alexander Shelton, Lindani Myeni, Innes Lee Jr., Roderick Inge, Larry Jenkins, Name withheld by police, Dequan Cortez Glenn, Doward Sylleen Baker, Ma’Khia Bryant, Andrew Brown, 42, Tory Casey, Michael Lee McClure, Marvin Veiga, Hanad Abidaziz, Terrance Maurice Parker, Eric Derrell Smith, La’Mello Parker, three months, Latoya Denis James, Ashton Pinkee, Adonis Traughber, Kalon Horton, Lance Lowe, Tyrone Penny, Darion M. Lafayette and Courtnee Lashon Warren.



Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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