Thursday, December 4, 2014

NY Grand Jury Blows It In Eric Garner Murder Case: Would Body Cameras Have Made Any Difference?

Body camera worn by Denver police officer: But if visual evidence is ignored by a grand jury they won't be of much use.

"I honestly don"t know what to say.....I think what is so utterly depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case exist in the Staten Island case and yet the outcome is exactly the same: no crime, no trial,  All harm, no foul - we are definitely not living in a post racial society. And I can imagine a lot of people out there wondering, how much of a society are we living in at all." - John Stewart

I just watched the video of the NY cop putting Eric Garner into a choke hold for the fifteenth time. It is as clear to me now as it was the first time, that Eric Garner's death was a homicide - as the autopsy showed.  And the cop doing it needed to have justice meted out - yet a comatose grand jury delivered a "no indictment" verdict.

Eleven times Garner screamed "I can't breathe!" as three cops wrestled him down and the main culprit  (Daniel Pantaleo) choke-held Garner on the NYC sidewalk, with the victim obviously in distress. Even if one is sympathetic to "the shield" and perhaps a former cop- it is incredible one would not see this behavior was way out of bounds and merited a finding of at least manslaughter by the grand jury.

Now, without a proper verdict- indictment or charge-  WHO will take care of Garner's family, his wife and six kids?  Or will they now be homeless or have to take to the streets to beg for money? It is a question worth asking, especially given that the cops came down on him for selling frickin' cigarettes without a license!  Murdered for selling cigs! What the hell is wrong in this country, especially with those who are supposed to "serve and protect"?

In my earlier post (Nov. 25) on the Ferguson grand jury case, I had written:

"had Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson been outfitted with such a miniature (body) camera - like the police in Laurel, MD - it is doubtful things would have gotten to the stage they did in Ferguson.  All the events would have been immediately accessible and there'd have been no "fatal span" of time within which witness accounts conflicted.  The grand jury, as opposed to only being exposed to Wilson's account and images of his injuries, could have also seen events as they actually went down. "

But as John Stewart observed in his Daily Show comment, a video record was available and has been replayed a million times of Garner taken down and choked. How bad does the vision of the grand jury have to be to indict?  If they can ignore this visual evidence, indeed, why would they take the visual records from body cameras any more seriously? They surely wouldn't and hence the outcome would be the same whether visual video evidence was available or not.

In many instances of such visual evidence, as in the case of the LA cop that wrestled a homeless elderly black lady to the ground several months ago (for crossing a highway) and punched her several times in the face - idiotic explanations and pseudo-justifications reign. "She was resisting! Didn't you see it? She was putting up a fight!", she was not! She was supine on the ground, and you had your meaty legs straddling her arms so she couldn't move and you were punching the fuck out of her face.  What? Do these renegade cops think we're blind? Or stupid? Fortunately, the LA cop had to face the music (on further investigation) and the dept. disposed of that bad egg.

Look, no one is saying ALL cops are bad! Indeed, the sight of the Portland police officer hugging a crying black kid ought to resonate with all of us, e.g.


So let's not get it into our heads that all cops are evil, or fascist storm troopers just because of the incidents in Ferguson and Staten Island and the impotent verdicts of the grand juries in each case.  But at the same time, police departments need to help themselves in an era of burgeoning citizen distrust by ridding themselves of as many "bad apples" as possible. Like the bad apples in the military these jerks do the various precincts no good and can give them a bad name - not to mention paying out millions in damages, as has occurred  in Denver (recently documented by The Denver Post.).

Kudos then to the valiant and decent police around the nation, but brickbats to those creeps that pollute their departments and poison community relations while destroying the essential trust of citizens!

See also:

No comments: