Friday, December 7, 2012

13 & 137

Timothy Russell, age 42, and Malissa Williams, age 30 were shot and killed in a barrage of bullets after leading Police on a high speed chase through the streets of Cleveland, Ohio. The chase began when an unidentified Officer reported gun fire coming from the vehicle parked outside the Cuyahoga County Justice Center in downtown Cleveland on Nov. 29th. Another officer also reported hearing shots, and sparked the chase near Police headquarters.
ABC Cleveland reported that more than 30 officers were involved in the 25-minute chase, which ended behind a middle school in East Cleveland. In a scene that sounds like it came straight out of a Hollywood epic, 13 officer's fired 137 rounds into Williams and Russell's vehicle. The initial investigation uncovered no weapon or firearm inside of the vehicle, and no shell casings indicating that shots had been fired. Any bullet holes found in the Police cruiser's were as a result of their own gun fire. All 13 officers's were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by a task force including the local police department, the county police, the county prosecutor and the state criminal bureau is investigating.
This has to be the most excessive use of force that I have ever heard of, and at first glance the source of my outrage was the fact that those officer's probably would not have emptied their weapon's firing at a vehicle with white occupant's. But after reading this story several times, I began to wonder why any sane human being would lead the Police on a 25 minute chase and think that it would turn out to be anything but disastrous. Far too often these stories break and we as African-American's seem to totally ignore the fact some of us act like fools. It almost seems as if we let racism distract us from thinking in-depth. While there is no reason to fire so many shots at anyone, Police shooting African-American's down like dogs, is nothing new. There are times when we cannot avoid being victims. But there are also times when we can. We must think before we act. Unlike like other's we cannot afford the luxury of ineptitude.



  1. Well said on both counts. Firstly, why would anyone think that they could out-smart or out-run even the most inept police officer--even a "Barney Fife" type officer has access to "back-up" and fire power, which might also include dogs, helicopters and let us not forget: SWAT! What was the driver thinking?? When a person runs, it gives justification to being hunted down like a dog, as far as law enforcement is concerned. The first thing that they say is: "why did he/she/they run?" So, the message of the story is: don't bother running, you will be caught and very probably killed--all for nothing if you are innocent.
    I feel empathy for the passenger--perhaps she was frightened by the actions of the driver, as well as those of the police in hot pursuit. She may have done nothing that would have warranted an arrest. However, I also wonder WHY policemen all fire at once at the same suspect. The first time that I saw that was in a movie about John Dillinger--when the Law Enforcement Officers surrounded his "hideout", they all started shooting and kept shooting until their pistols and rifles were empty. It also happened in real life with Amadou Diallo--he was shot forty times by NYPD--his crime was that he reached into his pocket and brought out his wallet to show his I.D. and the cops claimed that they "thought" it was a gun. During the Summer, a Black man (of course) was shot by 8 NYC policemen. The man was thought to be mentally ill and he was menacing with a knife. However, the pictures taken by the New York Daily News don't show any of the police in immediate danger. Yet, they all blasted him with their guns just the same. What bugged me even more than that was that the police had the EMTs check the man--were they going to shoot him again if their previous bullets had not killed him??? They surely could not have been interested in his well being!! Wasn't Black Panther Fred Hampton shot an inordinate amount of times by the Chicago police and the man was at home in bed in the middle of the night and had no gun?? I don't think that this will stop--one of my friends is in law enforcement. I asked him why, if fifty officers show up to apprehend one suspect, they all shoot at the suspect. He looked me in the eye and he said: "do you know what would happen if an officer did not draw his gun, or if he refused to shoot in that type of situation? Can you imagine what he would have to deal with from the other officers?" So, in addition to ineptitude and racism, we can perhaps add fear of retribution from fellow officers if every officer on the scene does not fire his weapon at the suspect. This kind of foolishness makes me look up at the sky to see if Jesus has started to descend on the cloud--we are surely living in the last days. Lord have Mercy!

  2. Very well said, as usual. When I hear about cases of Police and excessive gun fire, I always think the intent is to shoot to kill. We are living in the last days, and have been for a long time now. This case definitely reminded me of the Dialo case. A tragic example of over zealous cops killing an African-American in cold blood. I can appreciate your Police Officer friend's opinion. I've been there, and there is a reason why I am not any more!