A new database is highlighting the 50 Black women who were killed by police in the U.S. over the last five years and how the officers involved all avoided serious punishment. Insider tracked the 100 officers involved and found 14 were either fired or charged after the fatal shootings and none were convicted.
The report piqued my interest as I personally had not seen statistical demographics broken down involving black women and police involved shootings to this degree.
Over this last year amid the social justice awakening that occurred after George Floyd’s death, we have concentrated on the number and frequency of Black men losing their lives during encounters with law enforcement. Being a Black woman myself, I decided to take a deeper dive into the 50 women and the data set the report used as the basis for its commentary.
After reviewing a few of the data cards used for the report, I was surprised to find many of the women were in the midst of committing crimes while in possession of deadly weapons and while in the process of using them.Therefore meeting deadly force from police. Here are a few examples:
· An officer shot Laronda Sweatt after she injured a sheriff's deputy in the abdomen with an ax in Gallatin, Tennessee.
· Deresha Armstrong was fleeing the scene of a robbery outside Orlando, Florida, in May 2016 when she and a man exchanged fire with a homeowner, the police said.
In July 2017, two officers in Norfolk, Virginia, questioned India Nelson, a naval nuclear technician, after she crashed her car into her husband's during a disagreement, the police said. While she was speaking with Officer David Dreyer, Nelson pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and shot her husband. Dreyer then fired at Nelson six times, striking her three times and killing her. The officer's bodycam footage was later released.
Officer outcome: David Dreyer was not fired, charged, or convicted.
The cases of several California women were in this database including Meagan Hockaday, Redel Jones, and Yuvette Henderson.
A few of the cases were clear cut and in them the 14 officers involved- had clearly engaged in misconduct including those involved in the tragic case of Breonna Taylor whose death spawned the #SayHerName movement.
At the end of each synopsis, it was emphasized that no officers were fired, charged etc. in these cases. What puzzled me was the incendiary tone of the data reported. In the aftermath of George Floyd people seem to want to lump, or compare every police involved shooting or death to the injustice of that case. But not every case is comparable, and I have said it before, the social justice movement may inadvertently be delegitimized when we cry outrage before evaluating the entire facts of a case. As in the recent incident in San Jose involving Demetrius Stanley.
Remember the tease read “how the officers involved all avoided serious punishment “. I interpreted that to infer these officers “got away” with something -no charges and rarely disciplined. Indeed, police misconduct does happen, but most of the data set used for this feature were instances of justifiable shootings in the eyes of the law, and that is why these officers were not charged or convicted.
JADED OPINION: Whether intentional or not, the data presentation can be divisive based on how it’s delivered or scripted around what narrative is being pushed. Before we allow ourselves to get caught up – due diligence is needed in reading through the facts of each case.
As members of the black community we should be hyper-vigilant in assesing systems that oppress, marginalize, or affect us negatively. But we as a community have also got to own up to and claim our participation and bad actors as well. I have been increasingly vocal about not glorifying every criminal in officer involved shootings and to impress upon others to look at things through clear lenses instead of one of race/color. We have to monitor our bias as well.
I think certain narratives surrounding the social justice movement are indeed correct, yet the numbers do not always match to the perceived scope and depth of some of those narratives, which then skews the entire conversation.
The sentence referring to ONLY 14 out of 100 were charged could also have read 86 officers were cleared of any wrong-doing, and that has a different impact when reading it that way. Less likely then to enrage or incite social activists, and less confusion surrounding the root problems.
The defund the police movement and #sayhername movement does not gain the traction that it has, in my opinion, if the facts- were unpacked in some of these cases. If the goal was to shine a light on police misconduct- i don't see how this report/data accomplishes that.
This has been my JADED Opinion. You are welcome to yours!
What do you think about the data reporting of 50 Black women fatally shot by U.S. police since 2015’? Do you think more cops should have been charged-convicted? Do you wat to defund the police? Leave a comment below!
JADED: Journalism with a Touch of Shade is Lashaun's views and opinions on various trending topics.
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