On May 25, 2020 Minneapolis Police received a call of a possible fraud that had just occurred at a local business. Officers arrived on scene, and arrested George Floyd, a 46 year old black man, for providing counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. Mr. Floyd was passively resisting which led to a brief struggle between him and the four officers on site. Once on the ground, Officer Derek Chauvin, was on top of Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Causing the victim George Floyd to die from asphyxiation. Chaos ensued afterwards. Protests across the world began and are still ongoing. Demands for justice, police reforms, defunding of departments, and even abolishment of police can be heard around the world. The one thing that’s not talked about is because of Derek Chauvin’s action, we have all been traumatized by police brutality.
For example, in Atlanta while protests were happening, six Atlanta Police Officers were arrested, 5 of them for aggravated assault, for their use of tasers of two black people. The District Attorney of Fulton County, Paul Howard, came out in a press conference and stated that “Under Georgia Law a taser is considered a deadly weapon.” A week later, this statement was put to the test unfortunately, as Atlanta PD officers were involved in the shooting and killing of Rayshard Brooks. APD was called on scene for a man passed out in the middle of a Wendy’s drive thru. When they arrived on scene, officers had Mr. Brooks step out of the vehicle and conducted a field sobriety test. After the test was over, a breathalyzer was used to determine Mr. Brooks intoxicated level. He blew a .108 percent, which is higher than the legal limit of .08. Officers began to arrest Mr. Brooks for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), when he began to resist arrest. He assaulted both officers, he was tased, to not avail, and he grabbed the officer’s taser and began to take off running. A short foot pursuit ensued, where Mr. Brooks turned around and deployed the taser to the officers. Fearing for their lives, because according to the Fulton County DA “Under Georgia Law a taser is considered a deadly weapon”, one officer drew his service weapon and shot Mr. Brooks 3 times, striking him twice, ultimately leading to his death. Within a week, chaos had occurred again. The officer who fired his weapon was fired, by the mayor because the chief of police refused to do as such. The second officer was placed on administrative leave. Both officers were charged in the death of Rayshard Brook, because according to the Fulton County DA, “tasers are non-lethal weapons.” This is I say we’ve all been traumatized.
Just a week ago tasers were lethal when used on citizens, but when a citizen attempts to use it on an officer, it is no longer lethal? Where is the fairness and justice this country is all about? I believe the DA felt tremendous amount of pressure to bring chargers to the officers, even though the chargers do not fit the crime. Mr. Brooks was out on parole for his previous conviction of, False Imprisonment, Simple Battery/Family, Battery Simple and Felony Cruelty/Cruelty to Children. This was not an innocent man that had made the mistake of drinking and driving. This was a man that was out on parole, was out drinking and driving, luckily did not cause an accident, and resisted arrest because he knew if arrested, he would be going back to prison. Because of the movements around the world, these officers were charged for a crime they did not commit. They followed department’s procedures and policies, and acted accordingly. But due to the world wanting to see the police burn down, the DA is out to make an example of them when is it not warranted.
After the DA announcing of the charges, Atlanta PD officers began to call out of work sick, and what is known as the “blue flu”. Officers fearing for their lives, have not shown up to work at the night shifts in Atlanta. About 30 or so officers called out, because they are scared that they’ll receive a call, follow procedure and still be prosecuted for it. They’re afraid that the department, the city, and the justice system is failing them for doing the right thing. Police brutality traumatized us all to the point where police officers are afraid to their jobs. Across the country officers are leaving the force because they don’t want to be in a situation where following procedure gets them arrested and sentenced. They are scared, and they cannot be blamed for it. Unfortunately, the citizens will feel the backlash of these actions. Less officers will be available to respond to 911 calls, meaning higher chances of criminals getting away with committing crimes.
Police officers aren’t the only ones traumatized by police brutality, citizens, especially those of colors, are more than ever afraid of police. This became very real, and sadly true when I saw a specific video. In this video, out Trumbull Connecticut, there’s a young teenager, dribbling a basketball outside his house. The kid is by himself, he’s dribbling minding his own business. When suddenly, he stops and begins to hide by a white SUV that is parked on the driveway. At this point we can’t see why he is hiding. After a few more seconds, a police cruiser comes into the frame, and just drives on by. The officer appeared to be just cruising around. However, the kid was hiding from the officer. This was very heartbreaking, a young boy playing basketball has to hide from the police because of the actions of other officers. He has to hide because he is scared that he will be attacked or worst, if the cop sees him.
It is beyond saddening seeing this around the country. People are afraid of the police, and the police are afraid to do their job. This is because the actions of the bad officers that unfortunately exists in our country. Officers, the good ones, the ones out there on the streets trying to make positive change, all their hard work. All of their struggles, and fights to make the streets a lot of safer, and to build a strong community relationship, everything is tinted by the action of others. This career, this passion that some of us have, we’re judged not by we do, but by others do. This is the only career, where an officer, no, a criminal disguised as an officer in Minnesota can kill an innocent victim because he has no heart and soul, and have the backslash of it be felt by an officer in Massachusetts, that had nothing to do with the situation. Now more than ever a strong community policing needs to put in place, departments across the country need to start healing that bond, and making it stronger with the community. Showing them they’re support in their movement and passion, but at the same time demonstrating that they are out to do the good work.
Hill, E., Tiefenthaler, A., Triebert, C., Jordan, D., Willis, H., & Stein, R. (2020, May 31). How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody. The New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/george-floyd-investigation.html
Waldrop, T., Gallagher, D., & Kirkland, P. (2020, June 4). 6 Atlanta police officers booked on charges after alleged use of excessive force during protest. CNN. Retrieved June 21, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/03/us/atlanta-police-booked-felony-charges-protest/index.html.
Young, R., Levenson, E., Almasy, S., & Maxouris, C. (2020, June 17). Ex-Atlanta Police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks charged with felony murder. CNN. Retrieved June 21, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/17/us/rayshard-brooks-atlanta-shooting-wednesday/index.html.
O’Leary, F. (2020, June 17). Did Rayshard Brooks have a criminal history and was he on probation the night he was shot? The U.S. Sun. Retrieved June 21, 2020, from https://www.the-sun.com/news/998770/rayshard-brooks-criminal-history-probation-atlanta/.
Spocchia, G. (2020, June 17). Ten-year-old boy seen hiding from passing police car ‘because they killed George Floyd’. Independent. Retrieved June 21, 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/george-floyd-killing-boy-hiding-police-car-footage-a9569986.html.