By Garland Favorito
Police initiated murders of unarmed, non-threatening civilians who committed no crime or were suspected of a victimless crime have continued despite media hype around the August 6 shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Four separate killings have now actually been captured on video. Here is a recap of some murders from different areas of the country, a summary of how we can bring accountability to local law enforcement and links to videos and audios that support the conclusions reached in this article:
GEORGIA – David Hooks:
In Dublin Georgia on Sept 24, undercover Laurens Co. deputies broke into the home of David Hooks, firing about 17 shots and killing him in the presence of his wife. It was another classic, out of control drug raid gone wrong. The unidentified deputies incredibly acted on a tip from a methamphetamine addict who burglarized Hooks’ home and stole his SUV two nights earlier.
Despite a ridiculous lack of credibility of the tipster named Rodney Garrett, Magistrate Judge Faith Snell issued a “knock and announce” warrant. But the deputies did not knock and announce according to Mrs. Hooks, instead they broke into the house of the 59-year old construction company owner and grandfather, who never fired any gun even though he thought were being burglarized again.
Laurens County Sheriff Bill Harrell, indicated that officers were justified in killing Shook because had a shotgun which was later found to be unloaded. Harrell did not seem to understand that Hooks had a constitutional right to have a firearm in his house to defend himself. Mitchell Shook, the attorney for his widow, has since outlined evidence that the deputies shot Hooks through a wall and later in the back while he was lying on the floor. Officers searched the home for 44 hours and did not find a single trace of drugs.
- Wmaz13 – 2014/12/13/ – David-Hooks-Rally
- Wmaz13 – 2014/10/01 – warrant-meth-raid-led-to-fatal-laurens-shooting
OHIO – John Crawford:
In Ohio, two youths handling toy rifles were shot and killed instantly by police officers who arrived at the scene due to misconstrued 911 calls. Both of the victims were by themselves and neither had threatened anyone including the officers. Both murders were captured on video.
On August 5 near Dayton, 22 year-old John Crawford III was shot and killed instantly while shopping inside the Beavercreek WalMart and talking on a cell phone to the mother of his two year old daughter. The store video shows that he picked up a BB gun that Walmart sells and was holding it while looking at other merchandise to buy. Crawford was shot by officer Sean Williams who raced into the store in gear. The video shows that Williams fired the fatal bullet after the startled Crawford had dropped the gun and was on the floor.
After the murder, Detective Rodney Curd questioned the mother of Crawford’s daughter for well over an hour without telling her Crawford was dead. In the recorded interview, he repeatedly asked her where Crawford got the gun. At that point, Curd should have been fully informed that there was no gun. If Curd really did not know there was no gun and was not intentionally lying to her, the Beavercreek Police would have to be totally incompetent.
Ironically, it was Williams who committed the only other killing by a Beavercreek police officer when he responded to a domestic call and shot a popular retired Air Force officer, Scott Brogli. Williams arrived at the Walmart after a dispatcher received a 911 call but did not verify or screen the information received from the caller. The Walmart shooting was so traumatic that it also resulted in the death of Angela Williams, 37, of Fairborn, who had a previous medical condition. Ms. Williams was a mother of 5 children and two step children.
OHIO – Tamir Rice:
In Cleveland on November 22, 12 year-old, Tamir Rice was immediately shot to death when police arrived at the Cudell Recreation Center. You can the caller in the 911 audio tell the dispatcher, Beth Mandl, that Rice was a “juvenile” and the air rifle he had was not a real gun but “probably fake”.
The video below shows Officer Timothy Loehmann shooting the 12 year old after Loehmann and his partner race to the scene and he gets out of the police car. The officers then arrested Rice’s traumatized sister.
The Cleveland Police Dept. came under fire when reporters discovered that the dispatcher who failed to relay key information had been previously fired from her first dispatcher job and Loehmann had previously been found unfit for the small Independence Ohio police force due to his emotional and performance problems.
NEW YORK – Eric Garner:
On July 17, 2014 Eric Garner was attacked by five New York Police Department (NYPD) officers and choked to death by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. He can be heard saying at least a half dozen times that “I can’t breath” during the video of his murder. Garner had just broken up a fight. His alleged victimless crime was selling loose cigarettes.
The NYPD has a gory history of murdering unarmed civilians. In a previous OpEd article, I documented how in 2006, NYPD undercover officers fired about 50 bullets into the car of 23 year old Sean Bell, killing him and permanently injuring his two passengers,. All were unarmed, had no drugs and were on their way home from a New York night club. The families of those victims eventually received over $7 million in taxpayer funded settlements from the NYPD.
Prior to that in 1999, four NYPD officers killed Amadou Diallo after firing 41 shots and hitting him 19 times. The officers asked Diallo for identification while he was in a dimly lit area and when he produced his wallet they falsely believed it was a gun.
NEW MEXICO – James Boyd:
But a recent OpEd news article provided an extensive article identifying the police force that kills unarmed citizens at the highest rate as the one in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That city has paid out well over $25 million in settlements to families of citizens killed by their police officers just since 2010.
One example is the March 16th murder of James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man who was camping without a permit at the Eastern Mountain ravine. Boyd was shot and killed by officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, members of a special militarized police unit known as the Repeat Offender Project (ROP). It sports a hangman’s noose as its logo. Sandy can be heard on a police transmission calling Boyd a “lunatic” and stating that “I am going to shoot him”, which is exactly what he did. Sandy and fellow officer Sean Wallace, who has killed two unarmed civilians, were on the Albuquerque force despite being fired as New Mexico State Troopers for taking payments from Wackenhut while on duty.
The video shows that after officers convinced Boyd to come down from his position on the mountain and Boyd began to do so, they released a flash bang grenade and an attack dog. That caused Boyd to panic and draw a knife to hold off the dog. They then ordered him to get down on the ground and when Boyd obeyed, Sandy and his partner Dominique Perez fired about at least a half dozen shots from their assault rifles. As Boyd lay face down on the ground and able to barely move one leg, 3 more bean bag shots were fired until Boyd is motionless. An officer then released the attack dog fearing that the helpless Boyd could somehow still use his knife. The dog mauled Boyd’s leg but by that time Boyd appeared to already be dead. Police Chief Gordon Eden stated that the shooting was “justified” because Boyd was threatening a police officer when killed. The video indicates that Eden lied.
DISTORTING THE ISSUE: The national news media has served mainly to distort the issue by focusing on the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson even though there is evidence that Brown’s aggressive actions against the officer may have led to his own death. While emphasizing that shooting, the media rarely mentions the previous murders in nearby Berkeley where 3 undercover law enforcement agents fired 21 bullets into a car at a fast food restaurant, killing its unarmed occupants, Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley. No drugs were found and the murders left eight children to be raised by their widows.
The grand juries in that case and the Ferguson case were manipulated by the same prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, as explained in my previous OpEd article. But most news media outlets avoid discussing how grand juries can be manipulated and how the U.S. Constitution is consistently being violated in these cases. Instead, the play the race card to keep Americans divided against each other. Although the black community has certainly been victimized the most, it is not really about race. It is about enforcing the U.S. Constitution for all. In the five examples above, Hooks and Woods, the two who are rarely mentioned by the national news media, were white.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM WITH ACCOUNTABILITY
In my previous OpEd article I also explained how most of the perpetrators of these murders have gotten away with their crimes simply because they wear a badge. The New Mexico police officers were recently charged with murder. It took years to remove the officers who murdered Sean Bell in a hail of bullets from the NYPD. Most of the rest remain unaccountable along with their superiors who mismanaged their activities. These unnecessary tragedies events give local law enforcement a bad reputation nationally. But the problem could be easily solved in local law enforcement and prosecutors would make a commitment to a national initiative for accountability. Here are a few first steps that they could take to align their activities better with the U.S. Constitution and the protections from intrusion that Americans have been granted:
- Stop breaking into American homes to gather evidence of suspected crimes
The only legitimate reason for law enforcement to break into a civilian home without permission is to serve an arrest warrant that cannot otherwise be served
- Stop taxpayer funded sting operations
Police have no business committing a crime or attempting to lure someone into committing a crime. Their job is supposed to be to prevent crime
- Stop expensive, taxpayer funded undercover operations that combat victimless crimes
If the alleged crime has no direct victim there is no need to run an elaborate undercover operation in an attempt to prevent it
- Use independent prosecutors to investigate crimes committed by officers against civilians
Prosecutors outside of the local departments that were involved in the crime are more likely to conduct an investigation impartially
- Hold public grand jury hearings for officers who commit crimes against civilians
When prosecutors know that a grand jury hearing is going to be public they will be less likely to attempt to manipulate the jury with incomplete or distorted evidence
And anyone who thinks the answer is more federal involvement should think again. In 1992, a federal sniper Lon Horiuchi, shot and killed Vicki Weaver from about 100 yards away as she stood in the doorway of her Ruby Ridge, Idaho home holding her baby. Agents had attempted to frame her husband, Randy in a sting operation by getting him to sell a sawed off shot gun. Randy Weaver was awarded over $3 million of taxpayer money in a settlement for her death.
In 1993, militarized BATF agents killed six Branch Davidian church members when they attacked their property. Seven weeks later, FBI and special forces massacred 74 Branch Davidians in a military assault. The Davidians’ were militarily attacked because they were suspected of having an automatic weapon.