Newswire : New report shows number of people killed by police skyrocketed in 2020

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

According to estimates compiled by the Mapping Police Violence project, roughly 1,000 people have been killed by law enforcement in the past year. The new report revealed that at least 28 percent of those killed were African Americans, who make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Although this figure is staggering, the Center for American Progress (CAP) noted that it is almost certainly under-represents the actual number of civilians who died while in the custody of the criminal justice system. The full scope of which cannot be determined due to a lack of official data. According to CAP, data on deaths in custody is crucial for holding law enforcement and correctional facilities across the country accountable. The organization said the absence of accurate and complete information on the number of people who die in custody and the nature of such deaths, stifles policymakers’ ability to examine the underlying causes, let alone determine what can be done to lower the incidence. In a new brief, CAP urged Congress and state legislatures to take the initiative to ensure the dependability of forthcoming data on deaths in custody. “One year ago, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police as the world watched, spurring a blistering call for police accountability in the United States,” CAP noted. “Floyd is one among the countless Black Americans and other people of color killed by law enforcement: Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Amadou Diallo, Botham Jean, Alton Sterling, Daniel Prude, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, and too many others. In the year since Floyd’s death, the list has grown longer still with the deaths of Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Daunte Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant, Adam Toledo, Andrew Brown, and, again, too many others.” According to CAP, while the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began collecting data on deaths in custody in 2020 under the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) of 2013, outstanding funding and compliance issues could compromise the quality of the impending data. “Findings based on such flawed data would not help policymakers understand the causes of deaths in custody or reduce their occurrence, the primary purpose of the DCRA,” CAP editors wrote. CAP’s brief underscored how critical actions could be taken to address these concerns about data on deaths in custody. “Congress should appropriate the necessary funding for the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance to implement a methodology to search for and validate leads on deaths in custody,” Kenny Lo, a research associate for Criminal Justice Reform at American Progress, wrote in the May 24 brief. “A similar approach enabled the DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to identify nearly three times more arrest-related deaths than before as part of a broader effort that cost BJS less than $5 million between fiscal years 2014 and 2017.” For their part, state legislatures should look to compel all state and local law enforcement agencies to report DCRA data, Lo continued. States such as California, Texas, Maryland, and Tennessee already have laws that require all agencies to report data similar to those required by the DCRA, serving as models for other states to follow, Lo Wrote. Incentivizing DCRA compliance by all agencies would improve the quality of the data and bring about meaningful accountability in the criminal justice system, he continued. “Our nation urgently needs to confront the scourge of police violence against communities of color. Yet for decades, the government has failed to track the number of deaths that occur in the justice system,” said Betsy Pearl, associate director for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress. “While data collection alone can’t end systemic racism in our justice system and can’t bring back the countless lives lost, it’s essential for laying the groundwork to create real accountability and justice for all.” For more information and the full report go to the Center for American Progress website.

Newswire: Former Dallas cop guilty in deadly shooting

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Botham Shem Jean and Amber Guyger

A jury on Tuesday found former Dallas Police officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder in the 2018 shooting death of Botham Jean, a black man, in his own apartment.
Guyger mistakenly entered Jean’s home in the same apartment complex and immediately assumed he was a burglar.
Jean was sitting on the couch, watching television and eating vanilla ice cream.
Guyger testified through tears while shaking her blonde hair, Jean walked towards her in a manner she deemed malevolent.
Guyger claimed she feared for her life, an excuse cops are trained to use before firing their service revolvers. She fired, shooting him in the heart. He died later at Baylor Medical Center.
The jury could have found Guyger guilty of murder, manslaughter or acquitted her.
After Judge Tammy Kemp read the verdict, loud cheers erupted throughout the court building. Guyger, who had been fired by the police department following the shooting, sat stoically. She later wiped tears from her eyes. Jean’s family traveled from his native St. Lucia for the two-week trial, cried tears of joy. Allison Jean, Botham’s mother joyfully raised her hands in the air.
Guyger faces five to 99 years in prison.
Although some view Guyger’s conviction—a white woman cop convicted of murdering an unarmed black man— as a milestone. It is and it isn’t.
In 2016, Betty Shelby, a former Tulsa, Oklahoma, cop shot to death Terence Crutcher, an unarmed motorist. Crutcher had his hands raised in air after his car had broken down alongside the road. A jury found her not guilty of manslaughter. Shelby went to work for another police department.

In another deadly shooting by police of an unarmed black man in Sacramento, California, police officers returned to duty after not being charged in the murder of Stephon Clark.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California and the FBI found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against Terrance Mercadal and Jaret Robinet in the shooting death of Clark who was standing in his grandmother’s backyard holding a mobile phone which the cops took to be a pistol. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office issued the ruling September 27.
Mercadal and Robinet shot Clark, the father of two, seven times on March 18, 2018. However, an independent autopsy showed that Clark was shot six times in the back.

Newswire : Cops in two cities not charged in shooting deaths of unarmed Black men

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

Stephon Clark

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said yesterday that he will not charge two Sacramento, California, police officers who shot to death an unarmed black man in the backyard of his grandmother’s home.
An independent investigation into the shooting death of Stephon Clark found that no criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting can be sustained, Becerra said in a statement.

Sacramento police officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal, who is black, shot to death the 22-year-old Clark in March of 2018. The cops said they believed Clark was armed with a gun. They were wrong. He held only a cell phone in his hand.
An independent autopsy found that Clark was shot eight times —- six times in the back, once in the side and once in one arm.
Becerra announced his decision two days after Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she would not charge the two cops.

During the same time period, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday that it would not pursue civil rights charges against former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Joe Shelby, who shot to death Terrence Crutcher, 40, on September 16, 2016. Crutcher’s car was disabled. Crutcher had his hands raised in the air to surrender when Shelby murdered him.

Newswire : Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores for racial-bias training

By Frederick H. Lowe, NorthStar News

Starbucks in Philadelphia.jpg
Police surround Starbucks in Philadelphia

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores affecting 175,000 employees in the United States on May 29th to address implicit racial bias, following arrests of two black-male customers last week at its Center City store in Philadelphia.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to fix it,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks. ” All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed in the afternoon of Tuesda Newsy, May 29. During that time, partners (employees) will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and Heather McGhee, president of Demos, a think tank and research policy center, are assisting in developing Starbucks’ curriculum.
Johnson made his announcement after he met with two black men police arrested when the manager of a Center City, Philadelphia, Starbucks complained they wouldn’t leave the coffee shop after they weren’t allowed to use the restroom because they hadn’t purchased anything.
Spokespersons for Seattle-based Starbucks did not disclose what was discussed between the two men, who were not identified. Earlier, Johnson called the incident “reprehensible” and publicly apologized to the men involved.
Six Philadelphia police officers arrested the men Thursday afternoon for trespassing. The men were waiting to meet another man, who is white and who had scheduled a meeting with them in the Starbucks.
The arrests, which were captured on cell phone video, sparked demonstrations inside and outside the Starbucks, which is located on swanky Rittenhouse Square, and more national and international conversations over social media about the state of race in the era of President Donald Trump.
Richard Ross, Philadelphia’s police chief, who is black, defended his men, arguing they did not do anything wrong in making the arrests.
But the arrests caused hand wringing among others. The Philadelphia district attorney later released the two men because Starbucks refused to press charges. Jim Kenny, Philadelphia’s mayor, wasn’t happy about the arrests.
The woman manager who called the police has either left the store or the company, according to various news reports.
Facebook released a video showing a black man being ordered to leave a Starbucks in Torrance, California, after complaining employees gave a white make customer the numerical code to open the door of the men’s restroom before he ordered food. The black man was not given the same code. Starbucks officials said they are aware of the video.
The Rittenhouse Square arrests angered the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“The arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks represents another ominous signal on the increasingly dangerous environment for African Americans,” wrote Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of stereotypes and embedded fears of others…Racism and biases that make simply breathing while black so dangerous will not just go away without our society committing more resources to discussion, education and training on implicit bias and racism.”
“We know if two Black men in Philadelphia require six police officers to handcuff and arrest them for waiting to order coffee, then we begin to understand the mind state that allows for such overzealous and reactionary use of deadly force by those who are paid to serve and protect.
“Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of the stereotypes and embedded fears of others. How else can we explain why 14-year-old Brennan Walker who missed his bus on his way to school would be shot at by a homeowner just outside Detroit? Or explain Saheed Vassell, a mentally-ill man in Brooklyn fired at ten times and shot dead by police officers. Or why Stephon Clark was shot at 20 times and hit 8 times, mainly in the back, by police officers in Sacramento, based on the assumption that he was the culprit responsible for breaking into cars. We are at least glad in the case of Starbucks that no one mistook a wallet for a gun.

Newswire : Clark autopsy reveals he was shot in the back six times

Clark

Renowned pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu reveals his findings of the independent autopsy he performed on the body of Stephon Clark. Dr. Omalu said Clark, who was killed by Sacramento police officers, was shot six times in the back. PHOTO/Robert Maryland

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Sacramento Observer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Trice Edney News Wire) – The eight bullets that struck unarmed Stephon Clark hit him in the back or side, and none came from the front, clearly refuting the contention by police that Clark was moving toward them when they gunned him down. Those are the findings of an independent autopsy performed at the request of Stephon’s family by internationally renowned pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu.

“These findings from the independent autopsy contradict the police narrative that we’ve been told,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who has been retained by members of the Clark family to obtain justice.

“From the time this investigation began, statements provided by the Sacramento Police Department have proven to be self-serving, untrustworthy, and unreliable. This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances,” Crump continued.
“The children lost their father and deserve justice. We are conducting a thorough investigation to determine how this happened,” co-counsel Attorney Brian Panish said.
Crump said the Clark family requested the independent autopsy after Stephon’s body was released to them by the medical examiner. Dr. Omalu has been widely hailed as the man who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and its relationship to brain damage in football players. His story was illustrated in the theatrical film “Concussion,” in which he was portrayed by Will Smith.
According to Dr. Omalu’s findings, Clark was shot eight times with no front entry wounds. His independent autopsy identified four entry wounds in the lower part of Clark’s back; one in the side of his neck, with an exit wound elsewhere in his neck; one in the back of his neck; one under an armpit entering from the side, with an exit wound on the other side of his body; and one in the outside of a leg.
Crump said this information shows that Clark clearly was not moving toward officers in a threatening manner and they could have given him time to comply with their commands to show them his hands at the time they opened fire.
“Beyond the fact that police at first said Stephon’s cellphone was mistaken for a gun, but then changed their story to say they thought it was a crowbar, our autopsy has shown that he was shot repeatedly in the back – which is certainly not characteristic of someone menacing officers or preparing an imminent attack,” Crump said.
Crump said he expects that authorities will try to dispute or minimize Dr. Omalu’s findings because they directly contradict the official story of this unjustifiable shooting.
“When Dr. Omalu said football players were suffering brain damage, the NFL tried to dismiss his findings as completely wrong, but later had to reverse themselves. I’m sure the police will similarly try to discredit his findings about Stephon Clark, but once again the truth will win out.”