With a history of policing Black Americans that evolved from the Slave Patrols in the 1700’s, it is understandable why to this day the community has an inherent distrust of law enforcement. Afterall it was just 2 years ago, when we all witnessed Derek Chauvin put a knee on the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes 46 seconds, asphyxiating him to death.
This one incident galvanized the world and caused the United States to reckon with it’s roots in racism when it comes to policing, especially the policing of Black men.
After George Floyd, activists called to defund the police and scrutiny of police incidents involving black men are sensationalized in the news.
Statistics do show that police shootings are higher among the black population:
The rate of fatal police shootings in the United States shows large differences based on ethnicity. Among Black Americans, the rate of fatal police shootings between 2015 and June 2022 stood at 39 per million of the population, while for white Americans, the rate stood at 16 fatal police shootings per million of the population. Statista
What the stats do not show however is how many of these individuals were in the process of committing crimes using firearms or how many were using deadly weapons against officers at the time they were fatally shot. Context is often overlooked in these instances.
I previously did a report on media bias in reporting 50 Black women who were killed by police in the U.S, where I gave context to the incidents and showed many of those women’s actions were threatening others or officers with deadly weapons when police used deadly force.
Jayland Walker Incident
According to the Akron Police Department in a Facebook post, on June 27, 2022, police officers attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation at Thayer Ave and E. Tallmadge Ave. The operator of the vehicle refused to stop; as a result, a vehicle pursuit was initiated. The suspect vehicle entered Route 8 southbound as the officers gave chase. During the pursuit, officers reported a firearm being discharged from the suspect vehicle.
The pursuit continued for several minutes until the suspect vehicle slowed down near the intersection of E. Wilbeth Rd. and Clairmont St. While the vehicle was still moving, the suspect fled from the vehicle on foot. Officers engaged the suspect in a foot pursuit in order to apprehend him. The suspect ran northbound into a nearby parking lot. Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them. In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.
Reaction to this officer involved shooting highlights some of the George Floyd effect:
Nichole Stephens replied -Another black man killed by the police. This is UNACCEPTABLE.
Charlotte Bess replied -He was probably scared, and he ran. The police murdered another Black man.
Terri Bayless replied- If the suspect would have obeyed the law and pulled over none of this would have ever happened
Ron Blackstone replied- I’d be surprised how he posed such an enormous threat while running from the officers. Course it's too hard to say what exactly took place hopefully body cam footage will flourish in days to come
When a Black man is shot by police it is almost automatically assumed the police are in the wrong and racist. To the point that even if the “victim” was shooting at police, some will question what led to the encounter in the first place, such as in Walker’s case, a traffic stop. Should someone be killed over a traffic violation?
Some suggest that the amount of shot fired was overkill, as it’s been reported up to 90 shots were fired and up to 60 hit Walker. Others say the police should have just let him go even if Walker had a weapon and if he discharged it during the pursuit. What is clear among those who commented on the Facebook post is they feel Blacks should be somehow given a pass instead of using deadly force.
Some feel no matter the crime- life should be preserved. And this in my opinion is the downside of the George Floyd effect. We have seen many instances since where protesters take to the streets even though the person was obviously a threat to officers. The person obviously was noncompliant, and a situation escalated. It’s almost as if they feel police shouldn’t enforce anything where Black men are concerned. This is somehow “racial justice”.
It remains to be seen whether police officers in the Walker case were justified in their use of force or not. The way the statement from Akron P.D is worded “Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them” is indeed suspicious. However, if Walker fired a weapon at them during the vehicle pursuit, I think all reactions by police are in fair play.
Will this boil down to another Black man failing to comply and lost his life or was this a horrible unforced error by police?
Akron Police are scheduled to have a press conference on Sunday July 3rd and will be releasing bodycam video. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
This has solely been my JADED opinion, leave your thoughts in the comments below.