Tamir Rice, Kendrec McDade, Kevin Davis, John Crawford III
Now I dialed 911 a long time ago
Don't you see how late they're reacting
They only come and they come when they wanna
So get the morgue truck and embalm the goner
They don't care cause they stay paid anyway
They treat you like an ace that can't beat a trey
A no-use number with no-use people.
-Flavor Flav, "911's a Joke"
A full 25 years ago, Flavor Flav and Public Enemy released a track named "911's a Joke." In 1990, the biggest complaint about 911, which has far from disappeared, is that when you call police for medical help in black communities they are outrageously slow to respond.
In 2015, a call to 911 is a brand-new type of death sentence for black men and boys all over the country that must be addressed on a local and national level. Here are five highlighted cases where calls to 911 caused four vibrant, innocent black men and boys to lose their lives and one grandfather from India, mistaken as a black man, to be left paralyzed—all at the hands of police paid to protect us.
Please read about them all below the fold.
A 57-year-old grandfather from India visiting Alabama to help care for his prematurely born grandson, Sureshbhai Patel was taking a morning walk in his grandson's neighborhood. A white resident called 911, thinking Patel was African American, and reporting that he was afraid for his wife's safety.
According to the Washington Post:
In a non-emergency call to police, a neighbor described Patel as a “skinny black guy” and said that he’d “never seen him before” in the neighborhood. Patel, he said, was “just wandering around” and “walking close to the garage.” The caller added that he was following Patel at a distance. When asked to estimate his age, the caller guessed Patel was in his 30′s.
The neighbor also told the police dispatcher he was “nervous” leaving his wife because of Patel’s presence in the neighborhood.
Within a few minutes, police showed up, assuming Patel was the black man the caller had reporter, and slammed Patel on the ground, severing his vertebra and leaving him paralyzed.
Sadly, of all of the cases covered here, the only instance where an officer was actually punished for causing harm after a 911 call is where someone who wasn't actually a black man was mistaken for one. Officer Eric Parker was arrested and fired for his assault on Patel.
The last known photo of Tamir Rice taken the month prior to his murder by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehman
Thirteen-year-old Tamir Rice and his older sister were playing in their neighborhood park, as they often did, on November 22, 2014. Acting like a superhero, or even a police officer, Tamir can be seen openly and lightheartedly playing with a toy gun for all to see. It was borrowed from a friend in a trade the day before.
Soon, though, a 911 caller, feeling threatened, reported it. Stating that he believed Tamir to be a child and the gun to likely be a toy, the man was careful to qualify his concerns with those stipulations.
Sadly, none of those details were shared with police. Instead, they were told by their dispatch that a black man with a gun was pointing it at people in the park. With that in mind, Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback soon rolled up on Tamir Rice in their squad car and shot him instantly when no real threat existed.
Not knowing that a camera recorded the entire incident, the police told what appear to be at least five lies
about what happened.
1. Police said that Tamir Rice was seated at a table with other people.
2. Police said that as they pulled up, they saw Tamir Rice grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
3. Police said they got out of the car and told Tamir Rice three times to put his hands up but he refused.
4. Police said that Tamir Rice then reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun, and was then shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
5. Police described the gun as looking real and later explained that the neon tip of the gun was missing.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes very adeptly narrates us through the video of the shooting to show us that these five essential points aren't true at all:
1. Tamir Rice was not seated at a table with other people. As you see, he was completely alone.
2. Tamir Rice does not appear to grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
3. As you saw, officer Loehmann shot and killed Tamir within just one second of the car stopping and absolutely could not have told him to put his hands up three times.
4. Tamir Rice absolutely does not pull the air gun out of his waistband and brandish it in any way. This fact is so crucial.
5. Because Tamir Rice never pulled the gun out on them, the police had no idea whether or not the gun was real or fake. When the police later held a press conference to report that the orange tip was missing from the air gun, it was implied that the police on the scene saw Tamir brandish a gun with the orange tip missing and shot him because they thought they saw a real weapon, but they did no such thing.
Kendrec McDade graduating high school, kissing his baby brother, celebrating a football win
Kendrec McDade was a star high school football player from Pasadena, California—a typically safe suburb outside of Los Angeles. When Pasadena resident Oscar Carillo believed a young black man to have stolen his laptop, he immediately called 911 and began lying about the incident. On eight different occasions Carillo stated that someone stole his laptop at gun point
—an armed robbery—with the expectation that if he added this lie that police would respond faster. They did.
Though unarmed and not the suspect who stole Carillo's laptop, police soon confronted Kendrec McDade. Lying and saying that they both heard McDade shoot at them and even saw the gun flash from the muzzle of his gun, police shot Kendrec eight times. He fought to survive, but died later at the hospital. Of course, he had no gun, the police heard no gunshots, and never saw a flash from anything.
The police officers, Jeffrey Newlen and Mathew Griffin, never served a day in jail and even kept their jobs, but the City of Pasadena, at the taxpayer's expense, paid a $1 million wrongful death settlement out to Kendrec's parents.
Kevin Davis did the right thing. On December 29, Kevin called 911 for help. His girlfriend, April, had just been stabbed and the man who did it, Terrance Hilyard, fled the scene. Within minutes, the family dog, Tooter, and Kevin were each fatally shot by Dekalb County Police Officer Joseph Pitts. According to April
Tooter ran out the door and she and Davis heard at least one gunshot. A wounded Tooter came running back inside the apartment. At this point, she and Davis were convinced that Hilyard had returned with a gun. At this point, not even the police are trying to claim that JR Pitts identified himself as a police officer, either before or immediately after shooting Tooter without warning. The neighbors all agree that police did not identify themselves until Davis was himself shot and police backup had arrived to assist JR Pitts.
After a wounded Tooter ran inside, Davis approached the door to his apartment with the gun in his hand. Before he exits the apartment, he was shot by Pitts. April and her neighbors agree that it was only after Davis was shot that Pitts said anything. His first words? "Drop your weapon."
Instead of being hailed as a hero, Kevin, for the final two days of his life, was treated like a violent criminal and charged with crimes he did not commit
The police took the fatally wounded Kevin Davis to Grady Memorial Hospital. There, in a decision that is incomprehensibly cruel, police prevented his family from visiting him for nearly 48 hours as he died and took the opportunity to criminally charge Davis with aggravated assault on his death bed.
The family has yet to receive as much as a simple apology
from the police. As reported by Jim Davis of AlterNet
Kevin Davis and his girlfriend, April Edwards, lived on the outskirts of Decatur, GA, a predominantly black community just outside Atlanta. Davis, 44, was a longtime employee at Sawicki’s, a sandwich shop located in the more affluent downtown area of Decatur, where Edwards also worked. By all accounts, he was kind-hearted, generous, never late, and a visible contributor to his relatively small community of family, friends and colleagues.
As previously reported
in the deaths of Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, and Eric Garner, nothing reveals how police really think and feel about citizens more than how they treat them after they shoot them.
John Crawford III
John Crawford with his mother, with his newborn son
On August 5, 2014, a 22-year-old father named John Crawford III made a simple trip to Walmart to pick up a few items. Randomly, as he walked through the store, he picked up an air rifle off of a shelf and walked through the store using it almost like a cane, until he stopped for nearly ten minutes to make a phone call. In the pet food section of the store, John literally stood so still while on the phone with his girlfriend that the video from that day almost looks like it is frozen. It isn't. John leans on the air rifle and just continues his call. Unbeknownst to John, while he is chilling on the phone, someone else was calling 911 on him.
Ronald Ritchie, dishonorably discharged from the military, told lie after lie in his 911 call about John Crawford. As you will see in the video below, he lies when he says he was witnessing Crawford "load the gun" and he lies when he says he sees Crawford "pointing the gun at two kids." These lies, which Ritchie later recanted a month after making the call that led to Crawford's death, were so egregious in nature that they clearly played a role in informing police on what they could expect when they confronted Crawford.
Less than one second after seeing Crawford, police shot and killed him, never even giving him a chance to understand or comprehend what the plainclothes officers wanted. Because Crawford wasn't breaking the law, it would've taken him, or anyone, at least a few seconds to even process what police believed the problem to be. By that time, Crawford had already been fatally shot. He never stood a chance.
A strange irony exists in all of this. When it benefits police or prosecutors, they are quick to remind the public that eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable. The 911 callers, though, are the most unreliable witnesses of them all. Having leapfrogged past face to face meetings with police, not having any sort of credibility or background checks, or even a true verification of their identity, police seem to hang on every word of 911 calls that criminalize black men as if the calls were coming from the chief of police.
Eyewitnesses with great character who swore under oath, under penalty of perjury, that they saw Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shoot and kill Mike Brown in cold blood were thrown away as if they meant nothing. But Ronald Ritchie, a scoundrel of a man, lies to 911 that an upstanding man is pointing a loaded gun at people and it's believed to the point of death.
It's not right. It shows 911's still a joke—a very cruel, deadly joke.