In recent years, there has been an increase in civilian casualties due to the fact of discrimination and or hate. Studies have shown that a police officer tends to get more aggressive when dealing with an African American because they “fear for their safety.”According to Frank Edwards’ study it is two and a half times more likely for an African American to die in an encounter with a police officer than it is for a Caucation. The fact that a police officer has the ability to turn off their body camera makes matters even worse. In many instances, when a police officer encounters a suspect they turn off their body cameras then, on some occasions, minutes later the suspect is found dead or badly injured, where the officer claims to have done it in self defense.
The dictionary defines racism as discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s race is superior. Throughout the course of time, there has been a profusion of events that have significantly marked the United States and its people. One of the most important events is the ratification of Amendments in our constitution such as the 13th amendment which abolished slavery and gave African Americans the same rights as white people. The ratification of the 15th amendment granted the right to vote regardless of race. When the 24th amendment was passed it eliminated Jim Crow laws and Poll Taxes. Jim Crow laws prevented slaves and others from voting at all costs. One example of Jim Crow laws is the Grandfather Clause. The Grandfather Clause stated that if one’s grandfather was able to vote, then so was the individual. Due to the fact that at that time most African Americans’ grandfathers were slaves, and had no rights, they were prevented from voting. Though these Amendments did everything to prevent racial inequality, and an ample amount of people advocated and died for these rights, in today’s society a certain hate and discrimination for other races still exists, and causes some police officers to treate people abysmally.
Due to racism African American people are more likely to die in an encounter with a police officer than anyone of any other race.
According to a recent study by Frank Edwards and his colleagues, of Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice, African Americans are two and a half times more likely to be killed by a police officer than white people. Not only that, but they also found that one in one-thousand African American boys and men will be killed by a police officer in their lifetime. Whereas, according to Frank Edwards, thirty-nine out of one-hundred thousands Caucasian men and boys will be killed by an officer in their lifetime.
For instance, in a case, Amber Guyger V. Texas, a caucasian female police officer was sentenced to ten years in prison. Amber Guyger, an officer from the Dallas Police Department, (D.P.D) had just finished her shift at the D.P.D and was on her way home from work. Suddenly, before entering her apartment door, she realized that the door was semi-open. When seeing this, she quickly drew her 45 mm gun and began to assess the situation. Abruptly, she saw an African American male, Botham Jean, approach her in a suspicious manner, so she fired four shots at Jean’s chest. After shooting Jean, she quickly informed her superiors of the situation and of what she came home to, and her superiors quickly rushed to the case. Shortly after, she received a call from her superiors in which they asked, “Where are you, we are right outside from your apartment door”, and she replied with, “ No you’re not, because I’m outside my door”. In the end it turned out that Guyger did not go into her apartment, and instead went into the home of Botham Jean, a 26 year old African American male who was an accountant with his whole life ahead of him. The officer was sentenced to ten years in prison with charges of unintentional ManSlaughter. The question remained, Would she have acted in a different manner if the man who was in that apartment was not African American? The answer is yes. During the trial, when Guyger was called up to testify, she stated, “ I walked into the apartment, thinking it was mine, and asked him to put his hands where I could see them”, and the man replied with, “What? What are you doing here?” He then walked towards her, and she stated that all she saw was a dark shadow with a bucket of ice cream walking towards her, and she felt threatened, so she began to fire. In other words, she defined Botham as a “dark shadow going towards her”, so as a result, she fired, and the only reason she felt intimidated was because he was a black man in the dark, and not a white man.
Police officers have the ability to turn off their surveillance body cameras.
Many times the camera on a police officer’s chest or dashcam does not provide sufficient evidence while they encounter a potential suspect. Often, the camera is turned off, eliminating an officer’s ability to defend police actions, as well as, potentially violating the suspect’s 8th amendment rights. In other words, if a police officer commits any act of violence, he would violate the suspect’s 8th amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment. The ability to turn off a body camera does not only affect the potential suspect, but it also affects the officer. If the officer by any chance turns off the security camera, and forgets to reactivate it, anything done to the officer or anyone around him will not be accounted for since, theoretically, they will not have any substantial evidence to incriminate him.
While some people may argue that not all officers are racist and not all officers act in such manner this argument is not valid because one officer is too many and though it may not be all of them, they add up. In other words, according to a recent study conducted by Rutgers University professor, Frank Edwards, one in every 100 police officers has had a racist background. If there are 796 thousand officers throughout the United States, this essentially adds up to 7,960 police officers.
For instance in the case Martavious Banks V Memphis, the plaintiff Banks was pulled over by a Memphis Police Department officer, (MPD) and was asked to step out of his vehicle. When pulling him over, the police officer turned off his body camera and beat Martavious repeatedly with his police stick before firing his handgun one time at Banks. Later, the officer arrested Banks with no evidence or reasonable suspicion, violating his rights against false imprisonment. Evidently, the officer denied all of the actions done, but in later studies he was found guilty when they examined the hits and bruises while also taking in count witness statements.
As you can see, there are many instances where police officers violate the citizens’ constitutional rights, and in some instances, they’re not brought to justice. Studies and statistics support that more African Americans, than any other race, are treated in a terrible manner. Though these officers treat people abysmally, they’re also able to turn off their body cameras leading some cases to not have substantial evidence in order to punish and come to the correct verdict.
- Mock, B. (August 6, 2019). What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings. Retrieved December 28, 2019, from: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/
- Mccullough, J. (October 2, 2019). Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder of Botham Jean. Retrieved December 29, 2019, from: https://www.texastribune.org/2019/10/02/amber-guyger-sentencing-former-dallas-officer-gets-10-years-prison/#:~:targetText=A%20Dallas%20County%20jury%20sentenced,black%2C%20in%20his%20own%20apartment.
- Martinez, M. (October 2, 2019). Former Dallas Police Officer is Guilty of Murder for Killing her Neighbor. Retrieved January 2, 2020, from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/us/amber-guyger-trial-verdict-botham-jean.html
- Jackman, T. (June 14, 2019). Federal Task Forces ban body cameras, so Atlanta police pull out. Others may too. Retrieved January 6, 2020, from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/crime-law/2019/06/14/federal-task-forces-ban-body-cameras-so-atlanta-police-pull-out-others-may-follow/
- Jackson, P. (September 18, 2019). Martavious Banks files 10 million dollar lawsuit one year after Memphis officer-involved shooting. Retrieved February 8, 2020, from: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.commercialappeal.com/amp/2362710001