Once again, a tragic loss of life in an encounter with police has put a spotlight on two competing narratives regarding law enforcement and race in America.
The white police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old black man, Daunte Wright, on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, is expected be charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter. The charge against Kim Potter, who has resigned, is based on body-camera footage released Monday that indicates the shooting was accidental.
But it was no accident, contends prominent civil-rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Wright family as he has the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and many others who were shot and killed in high-profile incidents.
Crump said Wednesday in a statement that, in America today, “driving while black continues to result in a death sentence,” contending Potter “executed” Wright because of his race.
“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back. This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force. Driving while black continues to result in a death sentence,” Crump said in a joint statement with co-counsel Jeff Storms and Antonio Romanucci.
On Sunday, at about 2 p.m., officers pulled over Wright for expired tags in Brookyn Center, just 10 miles from the site of the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who faces charges in the death of George Floyd. After running Wright’s driver’s license, the officers learned he had a warrant for his arrest. It was when officers told Wright he was under arrest for a weapons violation and for fleeing from police officers that he resisted and tried to escape. Wright was also wanted for attempted armed robbery.
Body-camera footage released Monday shows Potter drawing her weapon after Wright breaks free from the officers and gets back in his car. She warns Wright: “I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” After firing a single shot, Wright drives away, and Potter says, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”
Crump, in his statement, argued that a “26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a taser and a firearm.”
“Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant,” he declared.
“Daunte’s life, like George Floyd’s life, like Eric Garner’s, like Breonna Taylor’s, like David Smith’s meant something. But Kim Potter saw him as expendable. It’s past time for meaningful change in our country,” Crump said. “We will keep fighting for justice for Daunte, for his family, and for all marginalized people of color. And we will not stop until there is meaningful policing and justice reform and until we reach our goal of true equality.”
On Wednesday at about 11:30 a.m. Central Time, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Potter in St. Paul and took her into custody. After consultation with the Washington County Attorney’s Office, she was booked into the Hennepin County Jail on probable cause second degree manslaughter. The Washington County Attorney’s Office will file charges later Wednesday, the BCA said. Second degree manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
On Tuesday night, police guarded Potter’s home as protests turned violent for a third straight night. Potter’s house was surrounded with protective fencing after protesters leaked her address online.
On Monday night, the Brooklyn Center City Council voted to fire the city manager, Curt Boganey, after he told reporters that Potter should be given due process, amid calls that he fire her.
One council member, Kris Lawrence-Anderson, said she voted to fire Boganey out of fear of potential reprisals from protestors, the Star Tribune reported.
“He was doing a great job. I respect him dearly,” the council member said. “I didn’t want repercussions at a personal level.”
See the Free Beacon’s video of reporters insisting there was no riot Sunday night:
An epidemic of police violence?
If Benjamin Crump is right, there is an epidemic of police violence against black men, with Minnesota at the epicenter.
But the data, both nationally and locally, compiled from many sources, don’t show that, argues Powerline blogger John Hinderaker, a retired Minneapolis attorney who now is president of a think tank, the Center of the American Experiment.
He pointed out that the Minneapolis Star Tribune has kept a running toll of deaths resulting from police encounters in Minnesota since 2000, which total 207. Aside from the circumstances – whether or not the shooting was in self-defense or otherwise justified – the raw total amounts to about 0.0002% of all deaths in Minnesota during that time period.
“If there is an epidemic going on, it is perhaps an epidemic of resisting arrest,” he wrote. “Daunte Wright, like George Floyd and many others, chose to wrestle with police officers rather than be peacefully arrested. Moreover, as in most cases, including Floyd’s, Wright’s contentious police encounter was consistent with a history of violence.”
The the case of Wright, an outstanding warrant that could have led to a substantial penitentary term likely explains why he chose to resist the officers and flee, Hinderaker said.
Hinderaker acknowledged that while most people who are killed by police officers are white, it is true that blacks are involved in such encounters at a rate that exceeds their percentage of the population.
That issue was addressed by Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald in a presentation hosted by Hinderaker’s Center on the American Experiment last August, as WND reported.
Mac Donald contended the claim that “policing in the U.S. is lethally racist” is provably false, presenting three types of evidence: the raw numbers, individual cases such as George Floyd’s, and academic research.
“A police officer is up to 30 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer,” she said, citing analyses by mainstream researchers of available data.
In 2015, under President Obama and Attorney General Holder, a Justice Department analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department found white police officers were less likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot unarmed black suspects. In 2016, the Washington Post reported a Washington State University study finding that police officers are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects.
Black leaders and scholars, such as Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele, who reject the claim that America is “systemically racist” point to the breakdown of families that has accompanied the rise in dependence on welfare since the 1960s. Boys are growing up fatherless, a major indicator of crime and poverty, with more than 70% of blacks now born out of wedlock.
Civil-rights era activist Bob Woodson offers a forum for voices such as Steele’s to counter the narrative of the New York Times “1619 Project” called the “1776 Unites Campaign.” And his Washington, D.C.-based Woodson Center helps support “more than 2,881 neighborhood leaders in 40 states who are tackling issues ranging from homelessness, addiction, to joblessness, youth violence and the need for education and training.”
The rest of the story
Black Lives Matter was launched in response to the jury acquittal of George Zimmerman in 2013 in the death of Trayvon Martin. BLM’s founders call Zimmerman and the officer involved in the death of Michael Brown in 2014, Darren Wilson, “murderers.” However, Zimmerman’s acquittal was confirmed by an investigation supported by open records that uncovered witness tampering and perjury.
BLM rose to prominence during the Michael Brown case. But three separate investigations, including by the Justice Department under Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, found the officer acted in self-defense. Obama’s DOJ found the iconic “hand’s up don’t shoot” likely didn’t happen.
In the Jacob Blake case in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August, the graphic video that caused outrage nationally showed the 29-year-old suspect being shot by police seven times. Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden were among many leaders who, before the investigation had barely begun, declared the officer who shot Blake, Rusten Sheskey, to be a racially motivated murderer.
However, other video footage and evidence came to light showing Blake resisting two officers before the shooting, wrestling with them on the ground after Tasers failed to subdue him. Blake broke free and appeared to have a knife in his hand as he walked around an SUV and opened the driver’s door. A knife was later found on the floor of the vehicle.
In the George Floyd case in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, video of officer Derek Chauvin putting his knee on Floyd’s neck amid cries of “I can’t breathe” also caused outrage across the nation. but officer body cam footage released in July shows Floyd, high on fentanyl, resisting arrest from the moment officers confronted him on suspicion he passed a counterfeit bill at a nearby store. Amid the ongoing struggle, Floyd, clearly agitated by what the coroner found to a lethal dosage, declared “I can’t breathe” before he was on the ground. In fact, it was Floyd who insisted that he be put on the asphalt as he struggled for breath, apparently from the drug overdose.
Three days after Floyd’s death, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told reporters “there is other evidence that doesn’t support a criminal charge” against the officers. However, a day later – after pointing out it usually takes months of investigation before a charging decision is made in such cases – his office charged Chauvin with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter
Last September, in the Breonna Taylor case, after evaluating the evidence, a citizen grand jury concluded the police officers acted in self-defense. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacted, calling the officers murderers and contending there are two systems of justice in the United States.
Rep. Ben Crenshaw, R-Texas, called Pelosi’s comments “inflammatory.”
“Accusing police of murder, when the evidence proves otherwise, is reckless endangerment, pure and simple,” he said on Twitter at the time. “People are listening to these words, and they’re destroying cities and shooting police officers in the face because of it.”
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