Police officers like the killer of Philando Castile have an unbeatable defense when their victims are black: They were scared.No. Not really. As I discovered long ago during the Sean Bell trial the actual key here is mens rea. Criminal intent. Officers are assumed and presumed to not have mens rea. After all, if you are taking on the job of enforcing and upholding the law you are unlikely to have a criminal mindset. Not that there aren't persons of criminal minds who see police work as a means to skirt the law, but generally speaking, the average cop on the beat is not an undercover crook. Hence it is near impossible to stick any charge that requires criminal intent as a requirement. Hence why police are rarely charged much less convicted of things like murder. So mens rea is the first high hurdle. The "scared" argument comes after that and as we shall see, it is highly relevant and not just for black people.
If an officer believes someone could imminently cause serious injury or death—or if he fears for own his life—he can shoot. And when the victim is black, that fear is often all it takes to avoid official sanction.Actually every person in America has the right to shoot, stab, maim or inflict any other harm they deem necessary to prevent imminent serious injury or death or fears for his own life. What is actually "new" in America, historically speaking, is that civilians have been disarmed often leaving police as the only persons with ready access to a weapon. As mentioned before, the difference between a civilian and a police officer is the presumption of lack of mens rea.
Fear, for example, is why Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in the killing of Philando Castile. The day after the shooting, he attested to it in an interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a state investigative agency. “I thought, I was gonna die,” said Yanez, recounting the seconds after Castile had alerted him to the presence of a weapon in the vehicle. For the jury that heard Yanez’s testimony, the officer was right to be afraid, even as his dashcam footage depicts a polite and compliant passenger. After the trial, a spokesman for the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association affirmed Yanez’s fear. “We can’t see inside the vehicle and, most importantly, we can’t feel officer Yanez’s fear,” Andy Skoogman told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.Well yes and no. As we saw from the dashcam, Yanez asked Castile to stop reaching three times before the shooting began. How many times do YOU need to be told to not reach for something? This isn't compliance. Compliance is stop reaching for whatever the fuck you're reaching for when told to stop reaching. But going futher, we are to think that Yanez's fear was unreasonable. It is because the driver is black rather than the reaching. Yet how many police have been shot by people who "reached for a weapon"? Bouie seems to think these things don't happen.
This same credulous acceptance of the narrative of fear is why Officer Betty Jo Shelby was acquitted in the killing of Terence Crutcher (she was “fearing for her life”); why a grand jury declined to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann in the killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old (he “had a reason to fear for his life”); and why a jury deadlocked in the case of Michael Slager, a South Carolina police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott during a traffic stop (he felt “total fear”).Credulous. I'm certain that Bouie has years of police experience to tell police what is and is not "credible". But lets run this down: Terence Crutcher, high on PCP was not following directions when he was shot. Michael Slager was assaulted by Walter Scott as Scott was fleeing after having been apprehended. Scott also did not follow directions to stay in his vehicle. Tamir Rice is the one case listed that I think was a storm of bad circumstances. You had a kid with a play gun that looked real. A call to police about a kid with a gun pointing it and video of an officer who basically got out shooting. There was no time for Rice to follow directions. So I'm mostly with Bouie on that one but the others show the clear pattern in most of these shootings: Not. Following. Directions. And now comes the slavery angle:
The latter would fit our history. Before the Civil War, Southern whites held a pathological fear of slave revolts, despite lauding slavery as a “positive good.” That fear led slaveholding states to create patrols, made up of white men in the community, who would enforce slave codes, with legal authority to capture runaways, interrogate enslaved people, and punish them if necessary. Scholars see these slave patrols as one forerunner to modern police departments, “the first uniquely American form of policing,” writes Katheryn Russell-Brown in The Color of Crime: Racial Hoaxes, White Fear, Black Protectionism, Police Harassment, and Other Macroaggressions.Whoah whoah whoah. Why are we taking a trip back to the 1800s? This is the usual "woke" bullshit that is exemplified by KRS One's little line: Officer, Officer, officer, overseer! Look, if you're in 2017 talking about slave patrols like any of you have seen a cotton plantation, much less worked on one, you are a damn and total fool.
Later, in the early 20th century, fear of black criminality would shape the laws, institutions, and even geography of America in the urban Northeast and industrial Midwest. In his book The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad notes that, in Chicago, both European migrants and “old-stock native-born Americans” often felt a “powerful bond of racial solidarity,” including a “shared fear of blacks as criminals.” White city dwellers “believed that African Americans were violent and deviant” and “sought various public policy measures to seal themselves off from them.”Here's the thing. Here's the question Bouie doesn't want us to ask: Were these fears founded? I'd have to quote a whole lot more of the article but this question is THE question. I have shown conclusively(1), with data (2) that black crime, particularly murder and non-fatal assaults is way out of proportion to the population of black people. In some cases things such as shootings would drop by 80-90% if black people simply were not present. This may come to a shock to many black people but there are places in America where murders haven't happened in 50 years. Where the only assault is domestic abuse. Where if your car is broken into while parked at home, it's likely to be someone from far away. In other words, this fear of the black criminal is not some figment of white people's imagination. It is real. They are finding this out in Sweden. They are finding this out in France. They are finding this out in Germany. Now does this mean that most black people are criminals? Absolutely not. In fact 90% of us are NOT. But that 10%? They are fucking it up for the rest of us. Hiding our heads in the sand and denying this will not help. When a cop pulls you over, you should remember that that 10% has put a flag on you. If you want to behave like one of the 10% when you're pulled over, well don't be surprised when you too find yourself underground or having lead pulled out of you.