So, one year ago today, I shared a video on Facebook. You can take a trip down memory lane with me and watch here.
On July 10th of last year, Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation by state trooper Brian Encinia. He threatened to “light [her] up” with a Taser before pinning her to the ground and arresting her for “assault of a public servant;” she allegedly kicked Encinia. She was jailed.
Three days later, she was found hanged in her jail cell. Her death was ruled a suicide.
She was 28.
Eventually, Encinia was charged with perjury and fired for lying about what occurred at the traffic stop. To add to an already unfortunate and suspicious situation, new details are emerging that the guard lied too. It was noted that the guard watching Bland checked on her an hour prior to her death.
It was already peculiar that Bland, whose family claimed that she had no history of suicidal tendencies, was said to have hung herself in her cell. Now, one could justifiably speculate that her death was more than a suicide.
Bland was killed, ladies and gentlemen, for failing to signal a lane change.
But I digress.
Last night, I was watching the Republican National Convention – best reality show on television – because it was the finale, and Donald Trump was saying things and talking about things for a very long time. It was something he said though, a claim he made, that really caught my ear. Trump said the following:
“The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year.”
That was a lie. A very big lie. The increase was actually just 8 percent. It was interesting because I was waiting for Trump to comment on the recent acts of police brutality that have been occurring, but instead, the focus was on keeping the police officers safe. Never mind the fact that last year was one of the safest to be a police officer in America, in history.
I shouldn’t be surprised at this, I know that. And I’m not. However, it’s troubling considering what happened this week.
Charles Kinsey was shot on Monday by a police officer.
He is a behavioral therapist who works at the MacTown Panther Group Homes. An autistic resident had run away, and was sitting in the street, playing with a toy truck, and Kinsey was trying to look after him. The officers arrived on seen after accepting a 911 call about a potentially suicidal man with a gun. When the officers arrived, Kinsey pleaded with them not to shoot, laying in the street with his hands up.
He was shot anyway.
Kinsey was unarmed. The officer who shot Kinsey, Jonathan Aledda, was asked on the released video footage following the shooting why he shot Kinsey. His response?
“I don’t know.”
It turns out that the officer did not know a lot of things. He didn’t know that the person Kinsey was lying next to with the toy truck was autistic. He also didn’t know that the toy truck wasn’t a gun. So, because he knew so little, another black male was shot on Monday.
Another black male was shot on Monday, for no reason.
I just find it so peculiar that it seems every time I look up, an officer’s first instinct is to shoot, or electrocute, or use some sort of force. Why? Instead of pretending like there is some war on police officers (looking at you Donald Trump), it’s time for the powers that be – the police departments, the local governments, and so on – to finally wake up and realize that we have a problem. Too often, officers involved in these types of situations have continued to escape legal consequences.
Police departments and police officers themselves need to be held accountable. This has happened too many times, and it will continue to happen unless some conscious steps are taken to encourage proper use of force and proper conduct in high-pressure situations.
When will enough finally be enough?